John Mackey and Roy Spence Headline RISE 2009

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Entrepreneurship Conference to Launch Online Tools, Expects to Add Sessions and Double Attendance; Free Conference Registration and Call for Sessions Now Open

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Both have traveled the road from aspiring entrepreneur to successful impresario and can offer important lessons to all our attendees no matter where they are in their entrepreneurial journey.

Austin, TX - The Relationship and Information Series for Entrepreneurs (RISE) will kick off its third annual gathering March 2-5 in Austin, Texas with keynote addresses from acclaimed entrepreneurs and local business leaders John Mackey and Roy Spence.

Mackey is chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Whole Foods Market, Inc., and Spence leads GSD&M Idea City as its chairman and chief executive officer. New to RISE 2009, the keynote addresses anchor four days of independently organized and peer-led workshops and sessions covering a wide variety of topics of interest to aspiring, new and established entrepreneurs in all industries.

"We are thrilled to welcome John Mackey and Roy Spence, two of our city's most storied and admired entrepreneurs, as the keynote speakers for RISE 2009," said RISE co-creator Roy Sosa, general manager of MPOWER Ventures and CEO and co-founder of MPOWER Labs. "Both have traveled the road from aspiring entrepreneur to successful impresario and can offer important lessons to all our attendees no matter where they are in their entrepreneurial journey."

Co-hosted by MPOWER Foundation and the Acton School of Business as a non-profit initiative with no cost to participate, RISE offers a unique forum where attendees can exchange expertise with entrepreneurs from diverse industries and backgrounds and form lasting professional connections.

Unlike a traditional conference, RISE sessions are limited to 25 participants and take place in venues throughout Greater Austin, from board rooms to coffee shops, from office parks to Zilker Park. This year, the conference also plans to introduce new online tools to help participants connect, interact and maintain contact before, during and after the conference.

Mackey opened a small health food store in Austin in 1978 and grew it into the multi-billion dollar business it is today, respected for its performance and its principles of social and environmental responsibility. Mackey was named 2003 Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and has been honored by numerous respected publications for his business acumen and philanthropic values.

Under Spence's leadership, GSD&M Idea City, a leading national marketing communications and advertising company, has helped grow some of the world's most successful brands including Southwest Airlines and Wal-Mart. Spence has been named Ad Man of the Year and Idea Man of the Century and is a sought-after speaker and marketing expert quoted in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, BusinessWeek and other leading publications. He is author of the definitive book about Purpose in business, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose, to be published in February 2009.

"Mackey and Spence's successes reflect Austin's proud history in developing entrepreneurs and offer an important reminder - the entrepreneurs developed and ideas incubated today will lead toward economic growth tomorrow," said Sosa.

Spence will deliver the opening keynote for RISE 2009 on Monday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. from GSD&M Idea City. Mackey closes RISE 2009 with a keynote and wrap party on Thursday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. from Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Co-hosted by RISE and FLOW, a non-profit dedicated to entrepreneurship that Mackey co-founded, the wrap party will celebrate the conclusion of RISE 2009 and the release of Passion & Purpose: The Power of Conscious Capitalism a conversation with John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods Market and Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World's Problems by Michael Strong with a foreword by John Mackey.

First held in 2007, RISE has grown from 500 attendees in 40 sessions in 2007 to 800 attendees in 80 sessions in 2008. In 2009, RISE expects to attract more than 1,500 entrepreneurs to participate in more than 100 sessions.

RISE Participation is free due to the generosity of returning sponsors Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, Austin Ventures, Ernst & Young, GSD&M Idea City and new sponsors anthonyBarnum Public Relations, Austin Business Journal, Austin Women Entrepreneurs, Capital One Bank, Club E, Grande Communications, Give Realty, Holtzman Moellenberg Panozzo and Perkins, LLP and Silverton Foundation.

Conference registration and the Call for Sessions are now open online at through February 28, 2009.

About RISE
RISE, a Relationship and Information Series for Entrepreneurs, provides a forum for entrepreneurs to connect and exchange ideas that inspire the entrepreneurial spirit. RISE 2009 takes place March 2-5 when more than 1,500 entrepreneurs will participate in approximately 100 sessions hosted by successful business leaders throughout the Greater Austin area. There is no cost to participate. For more information, to register or to volunteer to host a session, visit RISE is an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

About the Acton School of Business
The Acton School of Business, located in Austin, Texas, is a one-year MBA in Entrepreneurship program taught by successful, practicing entrepreneurs. The program is based entirely on experiential learning, featuring intensive 90-hour work weeks where students stand in the shoes of the entrepreneur in over 300 case studies, run real assembly lines and must sell products door-to-door in order to graduate. The student-faculty ratio is lower than any MBA program in the country, allowing students to develop strong bonds with their entrepreneur teachers. The Princeton Review has ranked Acton's teachers among the top five MBA faculties in the country for the past five years and rates Acton as the second "Best Classroom Experience" in the nation. The Acton MBA in Entrepreneurship is offered through Hardin Simmons University.

About MPOWER Foundation
The MPOWER Foundation ( is the philanthropic arm of MPOWER Ventures (, a socially committed venture fund that identifies, creates and invests in early-stage businesses targeting underserved markets. The Foundation extends MPOWER Ventures' efforts to promote access to financial services and extend the global reach of markets by supporting mission-critical programs that cannot sustainably return revenues. It funds, conceives and operates financial education, research, policy and social initiatives independently and through strategic partnerships. The MPOWER Foundation awards grants by invitation only.


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