Last week was the first annual Big Kansas City, a two-and-a-half-day conference on innovation and entrepreneurship. A Silicon Prairie News (SPN) event, the first-ever Big Kansas City joins Big Omaha and Big Des Moines as part of the “Big Series” conferences. The event kicked off on Tuesday, March 26th with a welcome party, and ended on Thursday, March 28th at the National Airline History Museum in Kansas City’s Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport. How amazing is this conference location?
Apart from a pretty star-studded lineup of speakers, the event brought together entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and countless other creative folks in and around Kansas. With its SPN stamp, this conference was one to remember. As a Big Series attendee (it was at Big Omaha 2011 that I decided to devote myself fully to building my startup), I had every reason to believe Big Kansas City was going to be every bit as inspirational, high-energy, passionate, progressive, and impactful as previous Big Series conferences—and it did not disappoint. Here’s a preview video of the conference, which gives you a sense of the mission and feel of the event:
“The local entrepreneurial community (in Kansas City) has stepped up in a big way to incorporate all the unique and varied aspects of the ecosystem,” SPN Regan Carrizales said in a recent interview. “We know that the community here is rapidly growing…and the inaugural Big Kansas City is an opportunity to help accelerate that momentum.”
Making the first-ever Big Kansas City extra special was its lineup of speakers. As I’ve said, it was star-studded. The speaker list included:
- charity: water founder and CEO Scott Harrison
- reddit, Breadpig, and Hipmunk co-founder Alexis Ohanian
- Clarity founder and CEO Dan Martell
- Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation VP of entrepreneurship Thom Ruhe
- Graphicly CEO and chief community caretaker Micah Baldwin
- Zaarly founder Bo Fishback
- 11-year NFL veteran and BowTie Cause co-founder Dhani Jones
- Yahoo!-acquired Stamped co-founder Bart Stein.
- Sprint CEO Dan Hesse delivered the event’s welcome message.
One of the best things about a Big Series event is that it gives way to authentic interactions—not only with other attendees, but also with the speakers.
“The speakers add so much in terms of the way they really put their heart and soul into (the event),” shares Jeff Slobotski, SPN organizer. “They’re not just coming in to speak for 30 to 45 minutes then getting on the next plane back home. They come hang out at parties, they talk to entrepreneurs.”