Wayne State University

DETROIT— Officials at Wayne State University announced today that Rick Inatome, Michigan native, life-long entrepreneur and co-founder of two multi-billion-dollar companies – Michigan-based Inacomp and Computer City -- will talk about the tremendous opportunities available to businesses during times of economic downturn as one of the keynote speakers at the fifth annual E2 Detroit conference on Thursday, October 15. The event, co-sponsored by WSU, TechTown and WWJ Newsradio 950, and emceed by WWJ’s technology editor, Matt Roush, brings entrepreneurs together with business leaders, authors, investors and others for a program that educates and inspires.

Inatome, who today is managing director of Sterling Partners, a $4.2 billion private-equity fund with 34 portfolio companies, says that Michigan companies need to think proactively and recognize that when the economy is weak it’s a good time to reassess and sharpen their market position.

“In a downturn, companies can achieve a 20 to 25 percent improvement in operating performance,” said Inatome. “During these times, companies have very little to lose and a great deal to gain. At the same time it requires taking a close look at their competitive advantage, looking for new opportunities and taking some risks.”

According to Inatome, companies should look for ways to strengthen their competitive advantage by taking a hard look at two aspects of company performance: 1) their existing processes and 2) the company’s internal culture. Both of these, according to Inatome, represent major factors for creating a stronger business model that is well positioned for economic recovery.

“No matter what your business strategy is, this is a great time to reassess and sharpen your position," Inatome said. “Strengthening existing processes and creating a company culture that produces measurable results are both essential to building competitive advantage.”

Inatome is considered Michigan’s first computer entrepreneur and played a key role in helping to guide Michigan's business and education technology infrastructure. He was appointed chairman of the Michigan Information Network and Michigan Technology Council by former Michigan Governor John Engler and served as president of Microsoft's advisory council and on the advisory boards of IBM, HP and Apple. He currently serves on the boards of AAA Michigan, R.L. Polk & Company and Saturn Electronics & Engineering.

“Although the current economic climate may be discouraging, there are tremendous opportunities for businesses to position their companies even when times seem chaotic,” said Judy Johncox, director of business services at WSU. “Michigan does offer a viable business environment for young companies, and Rick’s experience in building unique corporate cultures, scaling businesses and leveraging technology for competitive advantage will offer E2 Detroit attendees great advice from a world-class business leader.” 

Built upon the foundation of entrepreneurship and excellence, E2 Detroit provides attendees with the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs. Business experts and CEOs of local start-ups will share their successes and challenges to provide “real world” insight to entrepreneurs seeking practical knowledge. E2 Detroit is focused on establishing Michigan as an enterprise hub and Wayne State University as a premier training ground for entrepreneurship.

“The E2 Detroit conference is geared towards business entrepreneurs, and attracts nationally-known speakers and a growing audience of entrepreneurs,” said Johncox. “Earlier this summer, three major events called ‘FastTrac to the Future’ were held at Wayne State University. They were highly successful, however, this event differs in that the focus is on people who are already in business and seek to grow their business by identifying new sources of funding, new high quality staff as well as new technology that may be available through Wayne State University’s Technology Commercialization office.”

Registration is now open. To learn more about E2 Detroit, visit http://www.e2detroit.wayne.edu today. 
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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting, ranking in the top 50 in R & D expenditures of all public universities by the National Science Foundation. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.

Media Contact: Julie O’Connor
Voice: (313) 577-8845
E-mail: ag2712@wayne.edu