OCEC logo

In December 2005, Michael launched OCEC, the Orange County Entrepreneur Community, on the platform Meetup.com.  OCEC was a network of entrepreneurs that met monthly for Mastermind meetings and seminars.  The program followed an annual subscription model and grew to over 1000 members.

The platform provided exposure to new contacts and investment opportunities. Many startups joined the group ultimately seeking investment into their companies. Michael invested into a search engine start-up as one of his first investments through the entrepreneur group, with others to follow.

OCEC promoted itself and its sponsorships at business events and convention-style trade shows such as Largest Mixer, which held 4 annual tradeshows in Orange County, Los Angeles, Ontario, and Las Vegas.  The shows had a combined attendance of 10,000 business-minded individuals and 1000 vendors.

OCEC had the main attraction at the show in Orange County, which consisted of a recording studio setup used to record interviews with business owners.  Due to the success of the show, from 2006 to 2014, Michael was Show Manager and worked the showroom floor for all 4 annual trade shows.

Aside from organizing monthly networking events and training seminars, Michael, along with his colleague and an OCEC member, produced an exclusive event with California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.  The event was held at IPTV studios in Irvine, California in August 2008 with a live studio audience of 40 OCEC members.

Michael Banks with Dana Rohrabacher

OCEC also worked with Christine Comaford, a former Microsoft employee, who was instrumental in the Geek Squad / Best Buy partnership.  OCEC helped promote her “Rules for Renegades” event, which included many prominent business speakers.  She had also promoted her book by the same title, in which she also wrote about the time she spent the night with Bill Gates.

By 2009, OCEC was one of 30 business groups across the country that Meetup brought to their New York City headquarters as part of an American Express OPEN Sponsorship.  The sponsorship helped excel growth by providing materials and funding to promote the groups.  American Express supported the groups with resources and access to exclusive events.

One such event was an interview by Seth Godin in Las Vegas, Nevada with Sean Parker, Founder of Napster and President of Facebook, and Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia.  AMEX also promoted the OCEC by notifying cardholders about upcoming meetings and events.

Sean Parker, Napster; Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia; Seth Godin

The initial sponsorship led to many others through the Meetup.com platform, including Microsoft Windows 7, HP ProBook, GE, Google, and Constant Contact, as well as local business sponsorships.

Michael’s Entrepreneurs group was one of the most successful in the Meetup.com/American Express program and they invited him to speak about the experience at a private event.

The event was hosted by ECSB, the Executive Council on Small Business with an audience of 300 executives from high level companies.  The event titled, The Small Business Case Study: “Reaching the Small Business Segment” was held in June 2009 at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visionary View Irvine, Ca.

Through the networking organization, Michael partnered with Greg Bozigian, CEO of Visionary View, a product strategy management firm with early roots in product management and partner development. As the product owner during the initial development of Local.com, Greg quickly realized the opportunity to help other enterprise organizations craft, develop and manage their product strategies as well.

Michael Banks Hollywood Rock Walk

Networks in Motion (NIM), had successfully developed and managed VZ Navigator, a GPS-enabled mobile app that transformed a wireless smartphone or handset into an all-in-one powerful navigation and communication device.

Networks In Motion, passed 2 million paid subscribers of its real-time navigation services on GPS-enabled mobile phones.  Verizon Wireless and AAA offered mobile subscribers a branded LBS navigation application.  The app included nearly 14 million partner enhanced points of interest.

Greg and Michael also worked together with Relevant Ads to develop Local Splash, a local online optimization for national brands. Helping to develop a network of independent contractors, Relevant Ads quickly became one of the fastest-growing companies in Los Angeles.

Business Expo Center – Anaheim, Ca

In 2010, Michael helped develop and launch a 36,000 square foot event space called the Business Expo Center in Anaheim, California to showcase businesses and host events.  The development process included creating marketing, CAD drawing floor plans, membership website, and the ability to stream events live over the internet. Everyday tasks such as event staffing, layout, the procurement of equipment, seating, projectors, and audio equipment were also included.

Working to build their clientele, the team reached out to an array of industries through trade shows, chambers of commerce, and other local convention centers as well as local city officials.

Starting small with business meetings and seminars, the center quickly branched out to also host social events.  Some of the clients included Ford, Smithsonian, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Fox Sports, which televised a live boxing event from the center.