Monday, March 30, 2009

RISE Conference – Austin Entrepreneur's Conference

Guest bootstrap blogger Nina Godiwalla Talks about the Rise Conference

I was one of the RISE ( participants who went to so many sessions that I didn’t get around to lunch until 6pm when the sessions were wrapping up. I ran all around town, from the North side to the South side to the East side. The session topics and the people they attracted were so varied. There were 70 year olds and 20 year olds in the same sessions, all eager to learn how to blog and create their own webpage. The sessions were free, making it a boon for any typical, broke entrepreneur. For these few days, those who couldn’t afford to join many of the professional networks in Austin had a place to share their ideas and make like-minded friends. It was impressive to see how many women and minorities were at the sessions. Because people around us were fairly represented, it really felt like a community.

One of the unique elements was the conversations and emphasis on business with a purpose to help others. As one business student said in a session, “I’m always an outcast for having these social-minded views when I talk about business. It is great to be around others that care too.” I’ve been to many business conferences in other cities. Typically you choose whether you want to go to the Entrepreneur’s conference or the Social Impact conference. There may be a session or two within each conference where the topics overlap, but for the most part people that share the idea of profit with a purpose tend to be the minority. The opening and closing talks (Roy Spence & John Mackey) at RISE gave participants a framework by which to meld the two philosophies—purpose and profit.

I witnessed many people, including myself, with a new spark of hope and excitement, knowing that there is a community of leaders and peers around us to join in our entrepreneurial journey. There are a couple of us so inspired by the conference that we are coming up with ways to keep it alive throughout the year. It would be sad to wait another whole year. We are working on a couple ideas with the organizers.

Nina Godiwalla

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