The first day of Big Kansas City, a two-day conference focused on innovation, entrepreneurship  and start-ups, started off with a bang and continued to amaze as the day went on. This was the inaugural year for the event, which is organized Silicon Prairie News, who also host Big Omaha and the newly re-named Big Des Moines (which was formally Thinc Iowa).

All the conferences feature several speakers per day who each have approximately thirty minutes. Day one of Big Kansas City brought many well-known speakers, including Dan Hesse, the CEO of Sprint, Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, and Scott Harrison of charity: water. Each speaker put their own spin on what entrepreneurship meant to them and the top lessons they wanted to pass on to attendees.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse began the day with an overview of the innovations Sprint has had in the mobile industry (e.g. they were the first company to offer a camera phone and the first to offer 4G nationwide). He mentions that the future of technology and entrepreneurship is tied closely to the mobile and smartphone space, especially because of the way it has changed the way our society communicates today.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and now involved with HipMunk and BreadPig. After sharing his story, Alexis stated that while you can’t create serendipity, you are in control of being present for the opportunity. While school can’t prepare you for entrepreneurship  failure does and we shouldn’t be so afraid to fail. Alexis also talked about his work raising awareness about SOPA and PIPA.

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Adam Wilson of Sphero showed a video demo of the premier Sphero product, a round robotic ball that can be used for games, augmented reality experiences, and so much more. He spoke about the potential that comes with an open SKD and API that extending people’s reach beyond their current world.

Jamie Wong of Vayable gave her top ten lessons in entrepreneurship  which included “Play to your strengths” and “start from the heart”. She also suggested that business owners shouldn’t delegate anything they haven’t tried themselves first. This gives them a better idea of what needs to be expected from employees. Jamie also suggested that entrepreneurs need to “build the world they want to live in”.

Scott Harrison, found of charity:water gave an impassioned presentation about how he created his organization and that 800 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water globally. Since its inception, charity: water has provided clean drinking water sources to over 3 million people. All public donations are 100% sent to the actual building and implementation of clean water sources around the world, from Africa to India. Charity: water uses local engineers and providers to implement their projects and all projects can be viewed via Google Earth, thanks to GPS.

Dan Martell, creator of Clarityan online platform giving new entrepreneurs a chance to connect with mentors and build a support network. He too spoke about not being afraid to fail, and stated that “You don’t need to know how to do something the first time you do it.” He also spoke about evaluating your existing relationships. Dan stated that you are the average of the five people you hang out with most. This means that successful surround themselves with those who are also passionate and successful.

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Dhani Jones, Former NFL player and founder of Bowtie Causespoke about being “selfless, committed, and passionate about something that is greater than ourselves.” He asked the audience to ask themselves what their cause and vision is and to go from there. He spoke about the true generosity of the the start-up community, stating that entrepreneurs give more than anybody else because they understand what it is to work hard. He also emphasizes the importance of working hard and always asking for help when you need it.

Overall, Day One of Big Kansas City held enlightening advice from great experts willing to share what they know. Two breaks and lunch throughout the day held ample time for networking. Many more speakers and advice, along with a showing of Silicon Prairie, is in store for Day Two.


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