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10 Best Conferences For Ideas and Entrepreneurship

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1. DEMO, Silicon Valley, Calif.



 

Demo is an ideal place to launch a new product or technology. In front of an audience of venture capitalists, journalists, M&A specialists and tech companies, you have precisely six minutes on stage to sell your idea (with no help from PowerPoint or other presentation tools). Hundreds apply for this opportunity, few are chosen and the alumni are notable: E*Trade, TiVo, Adobe Acrobat and Skype were all debuted at Demo.

 

Date: Sept. 12 to 14, 2011


Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 800.643.4668; demo.com


Cost: $18,500 (if selected)


 

2. GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK, Various locations


GEW casts a wide net: The weeklong movement involves 100 countries, 40,000 events and over 10 million people. Playing on entrepreneurs’ competitive instincts, GEW hosts several contests during the week to identify and reward the world’s most promising new ventures. Past winners include Boston’s Resolute Marine Energy, a company dedicated to commercializing ocean desalination systems to provide water for developing nations; Lebanon-based MIMIX, a maker of web-based translation technology; and Abeo of Denmark, a manufacturer of eco-friendly building materials.

 

Date: Nov. 14 to 20, 2011


Contact: Brenden Chaney, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 202.467.2778; unleashingideas.org


Cost: Varies dependingon event


 

3. MILKEN INSTITUTE GLOBAL CONFERENCE, Los Angeles


For the past 15 years the Milken Institute, the think tank founded by junk-bond pioneer Michael Milken, has hosted an event revered in business, finance and policy circles. Bring­ing together more than 3,000 people, from C-level executives and government officials to entrepreneurs and tech innovators, the conference hosts ambitious conversations on busi­ness and social policy, with abundant networking opportunities.

 

Date: April 29 to May 2, 2012


Contact: Bryan Quinan, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 310.570.4638; milkeninstitute.org


Cost: To guarantee attendance, join Milken Institute Associates (mini­mum donation of $6,000)


 

4. OPPORTUNITY GREEN, Los Angeles



 

For those interested in making green business part of their corporate strategy, this two-day event is a must. The largest business-focused sustainability conference in the U.S., it attracts both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies, all with an interest in balancing the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. New products and policies introduced at this event include People­Towels (reusable hand towels made of organic cotton for public restrooms) and Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle (a recyclable bottle made in part from plant-based material).

 

Date: Nov. 10 to 11, 2011


Contact: Casey Ly, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 310.765.2233 ext. 711; opportunitygreen.com


Cost: $595 (early bird), $995 (full price)


 

5. SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST, Austin, Texas



 

Originally famed as a music festival, SXSW has evolved as a showcase not just for music, but also for independent films and emerging technologies. The highlight for entrepreneurs and innovators is the “interactive” portion, the first five days of the 10-day festival. In past years, it has served as a coming-out party for companies such as Twitter and Four­square, and has attracted entrepreneur celebrities such as Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

 

Date: March 9 to 18, 2012


Contact: Amin Simms, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 512.467.7979; sxsw.com


Cost: TBD (2011 price was $1,250 for a “platinum” walk-up badge)


 

6. TED AND TEDGLOBAL, Long Beach, Calif. and Edinburgh, Scotland



 

The nonprofit focuses on “ideas worth spreading” from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design at its two annual conferences, the winter event in Long Beach and its European summer counterpart, TEDGlobal. More than 1,000 people register early for each (they sell out months in advance) to hear speakers give the “talk of their lives” in 18 minutes or less.

 

Date: February 27 to March 2, 2012 (TED); June 25 to 29, 2012 (TEDGlobal)


Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 212.346.9333; ted.com


Cost: Starts at $7,500 for TED; $6,000 for TEDGlobal


 

7. TIECON, Santa Clara, Calif


Entrepreneurs attending this two-day conference hosted by TiE, a 20-year-old Silicon Valley net­working organization, can customize their participation by selecting the track that best aligns with their interest: mobile, social media, cloud, life sciences and healthcare, energy or international. As perhaps the largest entrepreneurial event, TiEcon emphasizes start-up success: Presentations range from how to monetize your mobile app to investing in clean-tech ventures to fundraising strategies.

 

Date: May 18 to 19, 2011


Contact: Harini Krishna, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 408.567.0700; tiecon.org


Cost: $595 for members, $745 for nonmembers (on-site price)


 

8. WBENC NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND BUSINESS FAIR, Various locations

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, a non-profit which awards a certification to women-owned businesses, hosts a three-day event for female business owners (last year, over 3,000 women attended). While the chance to network with female peers is the main attraction of the conference, attendees also partake in exercises such as “matchmaker meetings,” where women-owned businesses can apply to connect with various buyers and investors.

 

Date: June 19 to 21, 2012 (in Orlanda, Fla.)


Contact: Cristy McCullough, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 202.872.5519; wbenc.org


Cost: TBD


 

9. WEB 2.0 SUMMIT, San Francisco


As venture capitalist John Doerr put it at last year’s Web 2.0 Summit, “Ideas are easy—what’s really dear is execution.” Executing ideas is the unofficial theme of this conference: This invitation-only event helps tech and web industry insiders share what works and what doesn’t in their fast-evolving world. Web-celebs from Facebook, Google, Foursquare and LinkedIn offer their insights, but it’s really the chance to see what the tech stars of tomorrow are doing that draws attendees. (The Web 2.0 Expo, more of a trade show than the San Francisco event, takes place in New York from Oct. 10 to 13.)

 

Date: Oct. 17 to 19, 2011


Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 800.889.8969; web2summit.com


Cost: $4,195 ($4,395 on site)


 

10. WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL MEETING, Davos, Switzerland



 

In one sense, attending Davos is just a way of announc­ing your status in the global economic community; if you’re a player, you’re there. But it also provides a valu­able forum for articulating urgent or imminent realities in finance, economics and technology. Davos attracts some people for the wrong reasons—to see and be seen—but it remains a locus of international power brokers and problem-solvers.

 

Date: Jan. 25 to 29, 2012


Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 212.703.2300; weforum.org


Cost: N/A (annual meeting by invitation only; open forum for the public is first come, first served)

 

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2011 issue of Worth.