California State Controller Betty Yee and Fred Ruiz, chairman emeritus of Ruiz Foods, will be the featured speakers at the 11th annual Central Valley Venture Forum from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the Clovis Memorial District Auditorium.

The Central Valley Venture Forum is a collaboration between the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State, the Craig School of Business at Fresno State and the Central Valley Fund.

Yee will deliver the luncheon keynote address, “The State of the State: 2016 California Business and 2017 Business Forecast and Beyond.”

Ruiz will share his success story of building a business from a garage in Dinuba to the largest Hispanic frozen food manufacturer in the United States. The session will be hosted interview-style with audience questions to give attendees an honest look into what it takes to build a business from inception to national success.

The forum will include multiple panels throughout the day. The morning session will feature Central Valley business leaders and CEOs in the areas of agriculture and technology. Also highlighted will be the topic of growing a world-class business in the Central Valley, and California/Mexico trade. The session “Life or Death by PowerPoint” will give attendees guidance on their pitch decks at every stage of the funding level.

Presenters will include public policy leaders, angel investors, venture capitalists, Central Valley entrepreneurs, business owners, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and community leaders. “We have an action-packed day filled with some of the most successful business leaders in California exploring best practices and sharing advice and insight into how to navigate and survive as an entrepreneur or business owner in the Central Valley,” said Dr. Robert Harper, dean of the Craig School.

The conference is the only venue where growth companies can demonstrate their readiness for private equity investment in the Valley Entrepreneur Showcase, which was inspired by ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Five new or early-stage businesses will present to a panel of investors in front of attendees and compete for best in show. Businesses interested in participating are welcome to apply on

“This conference is a powerful, yet informal, setting that will give entrepreneurs the tools to thrive in our fast-paced and ever-changing economy,” Harper said. “We’ve seen several companies make valuable connections, raise capital and discover tips on business success to catapult their business forward.”

Individual tickets, which include a continental breakfast, lunch and an afternoon reception, are $65 before Nov. 1 and $75 after. Students can attend for $25. Tickets and more details are available at

For more information, contact Anna Gonzalez at or 661.238.9289.