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Pushing innovation CofC’s primary focus

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lavu Inc. co-founder and CEO Andy Lim was only 24 and barely spoke a word of English when he moved from Taiwan to New Mexico in 2000, but now, 15 years later, he’s one of Albuquerque’s entrepreneurial success stories.

Lim and Lavu — Albuquerque’s homegrown point-of-sale software firm for restaurants — took center stage at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce’s 98th annual meeting and luncheon on Thursday. The event, held at the Albuquerque Convention Center Downtown, included a lengthy interview with Lim by Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole, reflecting the chamber’s efforts to focus on supporting innovation and entrepreneurship as a key strategy for economic development over the next year.

“Promoting innovation will be a primary focus for us this year with an emphasis on entrepreneurship as the ideal way to support new businesses and create jobs,” chamber board Chair Liz Shipley told luncheon participants. “We’ll work with our partners to help build the Innovation District and the Innovate ABQ center in Downtown Albuquerque.”

Cole said Lim provides a prime example of the emerging startup  movement and entrepreneurial spirit gaining momentum in Albuquerque. The Taiwanese native learned English at Central New Mexico Community College, earned a business degree at the University of New Mexico and then launched his first company, Lim Web Design, in 2006.

Cole called him an inspiration. “He’s a person who overcomes obstacles and succeeds,” Cole said.

Lim and Lavu co-founder Corey Fiala launched Lavu in 2010. Since then, they’ve built it into a global firm with 40 employees and sales in 85 countries. The company received a $15 million round of venture investment in June to help it scale up operations.

“We’re focused now on short-term and long-term expansion,” Lim told luncheon attendees. “We’re laying the foundation to really be able to scale up, hiring key people who can help us with that. In the long-term, our plan is to grow the company right here in Albuquerque.”

The event included some exhibits by people in the city’s emerging “makers movement,” which promotes high-tech co-working spaces for individuals to access tools and technical support to build new products and services.

In early 2016, Central New Mexico Community College’s new STEMulus Center Downtown will open a community makers’ space with 3-D printers and other state-of-the-art equipment, Shipley said.

“We showcased the makers today as an example of how young people and adults can build great ideas into new products and businesses,” Shipley told the Journal.

Another business, Bandojo, also offered the luncheon audience a demonstration of its product. That company is marketing software developed at UNM to allow people to compose music on computers and mobile devices.

During the new year, the chamber will also work to support police reform efforts in Albuquerque, build more community mental-health services and shore up local educational programs.

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