Well… half live.
This year the Forbes Under 30 Conference is being hosted in Boston, which means that thousands of young people in tech, entrepreneurship, and investing are going to be in Boston this week. The hype surrounds the legendary Forbes 30 Under 30 lists – which are a collection and celebration of the brightest young minds in 20 different categories. In addition to putting out a list of these game-changers, Forbes also hosts a 3-day conference with several panels and festivals in hopes of bringing together the future leaders of every industry.
There are several parts of the conference that I’m looking forward to:
- To see amazing friends and mentors like Rebecca Liebman and Jesse Beyroutey recognized for their accomplishments. A deeper dive on Rebecca will come in a future blog post, since she is the #GirlBoss changing the way millennials approach financial literacy. Jesse is investing in technology startups with AI ventures 6 years ago and has sourced countless companies since.
- To learn about big topics in tech: AI, machine learning, drones, Ashton Kutcher…
- The panels about diversity in tech, the future of banking, and “Profits for Purpose” with Victoria Song (coolest person on Earth).
The Forbes U30 Conference was much different than I expected. I had thought that many of the conference events would be more intimate, and allow attendees to meet each other and learn about new companies in Boston that people were a part of. However, the opposite was true. People were from everywhere – I actually met very few people from Boston, as most people had traveled from out of town for the conference. The event was also very spread out. There were four content stages that hosted many thought leaders in categories of create, impact, capital, and tech; however, each stage was ~15 drive from each other, making it difficult to migrate from stage to stage.
I spent most of the time at the Capital stage and I was able to learn a lot from the panels. Many of the panels were comprised of venture capitalists and CEOs of startups that had experienced rapid growth and become extremely successful. There were many takeaways from the panels, and below are some worth outlining.
- Everyone loved to talk about how big artificial intelligence is going to be. I had heard of AI incorporated in businesses, but I honestly thought it was a buzzword for fancy tech. Jim Breyer (#11 on the Midas List) said that he wouldn’t invest in a company that doesn’t use AI in some capacity. Many investors and tech leaders talked about AI as the most probable intersection of human capital and machine intelligence. Though we haven’t quite reached the height of AI in businesses, it will definitely be a part of the digital revolution in the next 10 years.
- Social media during the conference panels was insane, both in terms of panelists speaking about it and the engagement on Twitter from the event. One panelist who was speaking about starting a company lamented on the “old days” when it was difficult to get a product to market and start a venture. However, with the introduction of social media and the tools that come along with the platforms, anyone can virtually get a product to market. The barriers to entry have nearly been eliminated. Competition is no longer based on who can introduce a platform or product, but rather who can execute their vision the strongest. Engagement through #ForbesU30Summit and @ForbesUnder30 also communicated the presence of the conference on social media. That’s 25 favorites people, aka major Twitter love for an account like mine.
- My favorite panel was called “Profits for Purpose”. The panel consisted of Victoria Song, Sallie Krawcheck, and Zach Finkelstein, who discussed how businesses in today’s age cannot merely have a “department for social responsibility”, but the company as a whole must embody values to give back to society (@emmaharney21). Victoria noted that many successful digital businesses, such as Warby Parker and Toms, are founded with the purpose to not only be profitable, but also contribute in more impactful ways. There were many startups at the Summit that echoed this idea, one of my favorites being ArtLifting. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the founder, who really showed her passion for the company’s mission to enable disabled and homeless people to sell their artwork. While this could be mistaken for a nonprofit company, Artlifting is actually a B-corp, and makes ~44% of each art sale, which is a similar profit margin of many art galleries.
The Forbes U30 Conference was a very well-executed event. Thousands of people were able to travel from all over the world to learn more from major thought leaders about changes occurring in the world. While much of the hype surrounded Michael Phelps and Jessica Alba, I think the real value was in the people who spoke about growing businesses through the power of social and digital platforms. Rebecca did get a photo with Ashton Kutcher though, which could be the greatest photo from the event.