Last week I had the opportunity to address a group of entrepreneurs and would-be-entrepreneurs at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO (@Mizzou). Several times in my life I have come away from an event feeling that I had taken far more that I gave, this was one of those times. My presentation was to cover “Fear, Failure, and Entrepreneurship” and while I am pretty well versed in the “Fear and Failure” part I am still a novice on the entrepreneur side. Sure I have launched new business platforms and driven new concepts stores, and build strategies for new product categories for large corporations but the amount of pure entrepreneurial talent at that event far surpassed me.
Sarah Hill (@SarahMidMO) was the host for the event and the first speaker. She was the world’s first journalist to use a Google Plus Hangout on TV and she and she demonstrated the power of Human Media (living, breathing, social media) as she interview many of the other presenters via Google+ Hangout video conferencing. The interactivity with the presenter, the online community, and the in person audience was better than I have ever seen before. If you are considering using video conferencing as a startup entrepreneur or a Fortune 50 company, you must check out the power of Google+ Hangouts. I am now a believer. Check on more on this creative approach on her YouTube video.
Brynne & Bailye Stansberry (@StansberryTwins) are 22 year old twin sisters who presented their amazing entrepreneurial story (http://thetwoalitystore.com/) to the crowd. They started the idea for their company while they were still in high school where they wanted to create a “fashion forward” rain boot. They refined the idea into a clear boot with swappable fashionable liners that the buyer can change out. Since their first idea they have moved heaven and earth to bring their product to market; getting a patent, talking with designers and manufacturers, and finally narrowing in on their list of retailers. The word was that they were 8-10 weeks away from manufacturing their boot. Read their story or watch their video and I guarantee that you’ll feel like you are not pushing hard enough to get your business launched (Columbia Business Times and YouTube)!
After listening to Arel Moodie (@arelmoodie) speak, you just knew that his is one of these guys that was going to be successful no matter what life threw at him. Arel, now 29 years old, described how he had grown up on welfare in the projects of Brooklyn, NY. He had witnessed drugs everywhere around him and decided that he wanted to find another way. Seeing college as his “way out”, he took advantage of his college opportunity and started his first successful internet company. He now is part of Empact, a company that focuses on facilitating a culture of entrepreneurship in communities across the world through exposure, celebration and early stage startup support. Check out his blog or one of his many YouTube interviews to see just how contagious his energy is (http://www.arelmoodie.com/blog/).
These were just three of a day full of great innovators, innovation experts, and entrepreneurs (see other presenters below). There was so much to learn from each of them and they were all incredibly driven. I don’t hear very often of corporate “innovators” seeking inspiration from entrepreneurs and I think it is a miss. Thank you Columbia, Missouri “The Athens of Missouri” for showing me your entrepreneurial spirit – I won’t soon forget it.
Other presenters: Thom Ruhe (@ThomAtKauffman), Emily Eldridge Holdman (@emilyleldridge), Jeff Slobotski (@slobotski), Jeremy Johnson (@JeremyJ), Jim Spencer (@jamesjspencer), and Kelsey Meyer (@Kelsey_M_Meyer)