Monday, June 16, 2014

#Sandbox_Summit Day 2 Recap (part A)

UML Inn and Conference Center
Day 2 was full of connections, inspiration, and learning. The energy inside the conference center made the gray skies outside irrelevant. Once again, it was a mix of big events and small moments.
Governor Deval Patrick Keynote
By far the highlight of the day was Governor Deval Patrick's keynote.  My biggest takeaway, besides a renewed enthusiasm for my home state of Massachusetts, was the three keys for economic growth: education, innovation, infrastructure. Every one of those is vital and we all have the ability to contribute in those areas. Growth is a choice. Let's make it happen.
Listening to Governor Patrick
According to the governor, the entrepreneurial spirit in Massachusetts is expanding. Massachusetts is first in the nation for entrepreneurial activity and Massachusetts grew twice as fast as the nation as a whole.   "Entrepreneurship for All" is a big part of the strategy to grow our economy.  There is so much good stuff happening in Massachusetts and we don't even know it. As the governor put it "We don't know enough about what our own mojo is." I totally resonated with his statement that "Community is understanding the stake you have in your neighbor's dreams." For me, this is what distinguishes the Massachusetts start-up environment from a certain other part of the country, which shall not be named. Community is a thing, a real thing, here despite the notion that we're missing the collaboration gene and despite the ridiculousness of non-compete agreements. We've got something really good going on here, so good that one of the things our governor has been exporting on his trade missions around the globe is the concept of nurturing entrepreneurship for all.

Massachusetts has a lot going for it. We need to know our own mojo and we need to tell other people. We need to get the Massachusetts story out there. Telling stories is critical to success. Hmm, I think I see my contribution to the community shaping up :-) So what do we need to do to make things even better here? Know our story and tell it. Get rid of non-competes. Raise the tolerance for failure here. Let's do that!
Social Impact Pitch Contest
A social impact pitch contest and a high tech scalable ideas pitch contest - with the audience judging -showcased more entrepreneurs and culminated in an exciting final pitch contest with judges. I think I'll have to do a separate blog post on the pitch contests.

Plenary Panel 1
It was tough to choose among the three breakout session tracks because all the panels looked great. I finally went for the Community | Building Consensus and Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem session because the panelists were from winners of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's Working Cities Challenge.

Community: Building Consensus Workshop
I could write a whole blog post/essay about what I learned about building shared vision and making sure that the your accelerator/innovation district/whatever meets what your particular city's needs.  I'll save that for later.
Community Workshop Table
My biggest takeaway from the breakout session and maybe from the summit as a whole, is also the smallest. People from widely differing regions, backgrounds, and skills make unexpected connections.  It's the small moments like a guy from Springfield responding to a question from a woman from New Brunswick about disaster recovery and entrepreneurship a couple of years on after the disaster. His lessons from the tornado offered ways to look at her community's post-flood issues. That was just one of the hundreds of instant connection moments arising from the amazing mix of people at the summit.

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