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Business

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Gets Entrepreneur’s Pitch

Software pioneer Leon Presser provides startup insight at awards ceremony

Government should delay collecting taxes from new firms for the first two years of their operation, the founder of one of the first successful computer software companies on the South Coast told a business group Friday night.

Leon Presser, author of 'How to be a Successful Entrepreneur,' was the keynote speaker for the 15th annual Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.
Leon Presser, author of How to be a Successful Entrepreneur, was the keynote speaker for the 15th annual Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. (Ray Estrada / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara entrepreneur Leon Presser, who earlier this year released his book, How to be a Successful Entrepreneur, was the keynote speaker at the 15th annual Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet at Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta.

“Business laws need to be reformed to help companies meet payrolls and pay their suppliers,” Presser told about 150 people who attended the dinner. His remarks were warmly received by the audience.

Even in these tough economic times, Presser said, “To be an entrepreneur, you have to be an optimist and have the ability to see what others don’t see, risk vs. opportunities.”

He said start-up companies are important because they create thousands of new jobs, while older companies are losing tens of thousands of employees.

Presser founded Softool Corp., which made software tools in 1977. It owned subsidiaries in Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy until it was sold in 1995 after making a family of tools to manage change. Presser co-founded Compass Corp., a software services company based in Vienna, Va. That firm was sold in 1990.

In 1989, Software Magazine listed Presser as one of the 100 people who have had the greatest impact on the software industry, and he was honored at the White House by President George Bush in 1992 as one of a group of outstanding Hispanic leaders in the United States.

The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Presser grew up in Cuba until Fidel Castro’s revolution forced his family to move to the United States.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1961, he moved to Los Angeles and went to work in the emerging computer industry as a designer. He received a master’s from USC in 1964 and then joined the computer research group at UCLA, where he earned a doctorate in computer science in 1968 and joined the computer science faculty.

Presser moved to UCSB in 1992, where he was responsible for the development of its computer science program. In 1972, he co-edited and co-authored one of the first books on computer science. He remained at UCSB until 1976 and now lives in semi-retirement.

After Presser spoke, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presented five awards to area businesses and leaders.

Jordano’s Inc. was honored as Business of the Year. Chiropractor Izzy Lira was named Entrepreneur of the Year. Pueblo Rey Funeral Services received the Small Business of the Year Award.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians was given the Community Service Award. And, the President’s Award was given to the Hispanic chamber’s founders.

Noozhawk business writer Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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