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Greg Topalian and Exec Team of Business Journals Inc. Launch Event Company

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
September 12, 2014
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South Norwalk, CT – The senior leadership of Business Journals Inc. (BJI) is teaming up with Greg Topalian, the former head of ReedPop, to launch a new company that will create events for enthusiast markets.

Topalian, who stepped down as a senior vice president at Reed Exhibitions this Summer, will serve as president of LeftField Media and will also have an ownership stake in the new company. The other principals on the team are BJI President and CEO Britton Jones; Chairman and COO Mac Brighton; and Vice President Sharon Enright. All four principals are ardent baseball fans, which was part of the inspiration behind the company name. “LeftField” was also chosen to convey originality and distinction in its pending event lineup.

“The focus of our new company will be on building ‘culture’ and celebrating communities regardless of B-to-B or B-to-C,” said Topalian. “I am incredibly excited to join forces with Britton, Mac and Sharon to form a unique company that will serve our joint vision for the future.”

Jones and Brighton have overseen a company that has launched its share of shows over the years. BJI leans primarily toward the fashion industry with a 27-show portfolio that includes AccessoriesTheShow, FAME, STITCH and other events that have made the recent TSE Fastest 50 roster. The ever-changing style world seems to fit well with Topalian’s experience at Reed, which included not only the launch of New York Comic Con, but also the development of Agenda and Capsule for Reed’s own fashion portfolio, and the One2One hosted-buyer summits.

LeftField Media will be based in the BJI offices in South Norwalk, but will be independent of BJI. Its goal will be to capture the same lightning-in-a-bottle that has created a thriving comic con market in major cities across the U.S. and is being expanded worldwide by ReedPop and other event organizers.

The science-fiction super-hero crowd is not on the radar of LeftField. Instead, other enthusiast communities will be explored with the goal of creating the same hybrid of attendees and exhibitors. Topalian told Trade Show Executive (TSE) that comic cons are indeed doing well but noted the market is fairly mature. “Most major cities now have some type of comic con event,” he pointed out.

But the comic con phenomenon, which was born in San Diego and spread nationwide, is an alluring one, especially in an age when customer experience is as important to the success of a trade show as the products on display in the booths. That trend sets the table for companies such as LeftField that provide a gathering for enthusiastic consumers. “We are building celebrations of those communities,” said Topalian. “We always start with the community and the attendees. We’ll be looking at other niche markets that want to come together as communities.”

“We have four or five concepts we are working through and a couple of acquisition conversations,” said Topalian, who added that an announcement on LeftField’s first events could come around the end of the year.

Topalian stressed that LeftField was hitting the ground with a degree of flexibility when it comes to partnerships, deal structures and territories. “We won’t choose the biggest cities just to be in the biggest cities,” he said. “We will go where the communities are.”

Reach Greg Topalian at (203) 550-2139 or gregtopalian@gmail.com; Britton Jones at (203) 663-7837 or brittonj@busjour.com

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