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Global entrepreneurs gather in San Mateo
March 25, 2014, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal

Alexandra Johnson

Promising entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business executives and technologically savvy professionals from across the globe will be hitting downtown San Mateo’s streets this week as they gather for the Global Technology Symposium held at Draper University.

The event highlighting Silicon Valley and emerging markets will kick off 6 p.m. Wednesday and run through 7 p.m. Friday. Attendees will have the opportunity to network, pitch ideas, invest in businesses, discover what’s developing across the globe and participate in interactive panels, said Alexandra “Sasha” Johnson, founder and CEO of the Global Technology Symposium and managing director at the venture capitalist firm DFJ VTB Aurora.

“There are two parts of [GTS]. One is to showcase entrepreneurship in other parts of the world,” Johnson said. “Then to the visiting entrepreneurs and investors, we give a snapshot and a summary of what’s hot and what’s trending in Silicon Valley.”

The annual symposium reflects global changes in emerging markets and this year’s theme is “Challenging Trendsetters.” It’s about moving from traditional stagnant speeches to question-oriented panels where attendees can gain keen insight into emerging trends as well as paralleled networking in a casual environment, Johnson said.

There will be a pitching competition and it’s common for deals to be signed by investors who come from emerging markets looking to add to their portfolio, Johnson said.

She started the Bay Area symposium almost 12 years ago and, after several years at the luxury Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park, decided hosting the event at San Mateo’s new entrepreneurial school would be a perfect fit, Johnson said.

“They help you discover a hero in entrepreneurship, regardless of what your day job is. So it was just logical that we would go and use that particular platform because the level of entrepreneurs that [do] pass through that center is quite remarkable,” Johnson said.

Draper University founder Tim Draper’s vision was to take venture capitalism global at a time when it wasn’t popular, Johnson said. She was born in the Soviet Union and moved here to attend University of California at Berkeley. She now marvels at how quickly the market has boomed, Johnson said.

“My learning curve was difficult and steep and I’m thankful for UC Berkeley forever and I was super excited to learn everything about the market, economy and the way big corporations work and, of course, there was an entrepreneurship class and I couldn’t even understand what that word meant back then,” Johnson said. “People forget that it all happened within the last 15 to 20 years and now entrepreneur is a global concept.”

With the tech sector heating up as fast as ever, having a platform where people can advertise, share ideas and learn how to expand one’s presence in the marketplace is key. As the world progresses, so too does technology and, with it, emerging markets and she hopes to see a day where conflicts over borders and the politics in today’s news are things of the past, Johnson said.

“I believe this whole global infrastructure that’s supporting entrepreneurship will just develop even further where eventually people will stop arguing about borders,” Johnson said. “Because in technology, there [are] no borders.”

For more information or to register for the Global Technology Symposium visit

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106



Tags: johnson, global, emerging, technology, symposium, there,

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