Big Kansas City: A Conference to Accelerate Ideas, Connections, and Innovations

Since their first post, Silicon Prairie News had been dedicated to the grassroots building of the startup community on the Silicon Prairie – Omaha, Kansas City and Des Moines. Five years ago, what they thought would be a small meetup of entrepreneurs to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk turned into the first Big Omaha conference.

Big Kansas City Logo ColorFast-forward to today and Silicon Prairie News has feet on the ground in Kansas City, Omaha and Des Moines and has established The Big Series which includes Big Kansas City, Big Omaha, and Big Des Moines.

Tagging itself as “a conference on innovation and entrepreneurship”, the inaugural Big Kansas City takes place March 26 thru 28, at the Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Missouri.

Social: IRL spoke with Silicon Prairie News’ Regan Carrizales to learn more.

Could you give a brief overview of Big Kansas City and what makes “The Big Series” such a unique experience for attendees

The Big Series’ aim is to create the most ambitious conference series for entrepreneurship and innovation. Big Kansas City maintains a solid foundation upon which The Big Series events have been built: an all-inclusive two-and-a-half day event featuring a one-track keynote stage with more than a dozen notable speakers.

Big Kansas City is a national conference where you will hear stories of innovation from more than a dozen leading speakers, create lasting connections within the regional and national community, and walk away with an energy to follow your passions–ultimately, it is a conference designed to support the spirit and ambition of the entrepreneurial community.

For those who have attended Big Omaha or Big Des Moines (previously Thinc Iowa), what’s going to be different about the Kansas City experience?

With Big Kansas City, the local entrepreneurial community has stepped up in a BIG way to incorporate all the unique and varied aspects of the ecosystem, but also to demonstrate to all the eyes watching what constitutes the heart and soul of this community. The national scene has been intrigued by what is happening in Kansas City and in the Silicon Prairie – the inaugural Big Kansas City is our opportunity to pull back the curtain and say, “hey, you can and we ARE building great companies here, and by the way, we have this amazing startup scene that makes it a lot of fun too.”

Who should attend Big Kansas City and why?

Hustlers passionate about building their businesses, and community change agents focused on building an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For entrepreneurs, it’s the opportunity to listen and learn from co-founders from across the country and to connect and build a network that is both regional and national. Also though, and this is the intangible part of conversation, there are those serendipitous moments that happen, that aren’t planned for, yet in that moment can change the trajectory of a person, an idea, and of a company.

A great example is the Brad and Ben story—Ben Barreth, founder of Home for Hackers in Kansas City, met Brad Feld at Thinc Iowa in October. Four months later, Brad Feld announces his purchase of a home in Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV) and launching the KC Fiber House competition.

For serendipitous moments like these to happen, you need the time and space for them to occur– that is what the Big Series is about for the Silicon Prairie– allowing the tears, sweat, passionate and unrelenting drive of entrepreneurs to meet destiny.

Who will be speaking?

Big Kansas City Screen ShotI encourage everyone to visit where the entire speaker lineup and biographies can be found. Personally, I’m super excited about a few folks…Amy Jo Martin, co-founder of Digital Royalty which includes Shaquille O’Neal in their portfolio; Bart Stein, co-founder of Stamped, the startup that was later became the first acquisition made by Marissa Meyer at Yahoo; and Dhani Jones, who is a NFL vet now pursuing a social entrepreneurial venture.

Is there an overarching theme of this inaugural Kansas City event?

Our inaugural Big Kansas City event follows in the mold of our events in Omaha and Des Moines with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Why the investment in bringing this event, and a full time on the ground presence, to Kansas City?

Kansas City was more than ready – we had been hearing from KC for a few years that Silicon Prairie News needed to be on the ground, developing relationships and intimately covering the stories.

We knew that the community here had much momentum and was and is rapidly growing—that is exciting on many fronts, and what excites us most about the inaugural Big Kansas City is that it is an opportunity to help accelerate the momentum that is building businesses and the community….and then we do it again next year. The advancement of the community is ongoing, Big Kansas City is an opportunity to accelerate the ideas, connections and innovations happening on the ground everyday.

On a personal note, you joined Silicon Prairie News a little over three months ago, taking the role as their community builder in Kansas City.  What attracted you to the opportunity?

I have a bit of a unique perspective because I didn’t come from the startup scene. My previous work was for a non-profit and  included developing a regional collaborative with a focus on entrepreneurship in the Silicon Prairie. …and then I attended Big Omaha and a few months later Thinc Iowa. These two events opened my eyes to what was happening here in the place that I call home. I wanted to be a part of the startup community and the leap to Silicon Prairie News has been the most rewarding work in which I’ve been involved.  The entrepreneurs and others working in the space have made me a smarter, more aware and effective person.

Big Kansas City takes place in less than two weeks time. Final words for anyone who hasn’t secured their ticket yet?

What are you waiting for?!

I’m confident I would go crazy knowing that I was missing out by not being at Big Kansas City – I say this as a two-time attendee of the Big conferences.  Since my first Big Omaha, I have developed friendships that are a part of my support system, expanded my network of individuals—from both coasts as well as throughout the region—and inspired and elevated my level of thinking about how we build entrepreneurship throughout the region.  I can’t imagine not being a part of that conversation at the inaugural Big Kansas City!

Big Kansas City:

When: March 26-28, 2013

Where: Hanger 9 at Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport, Kansas City, Missouri

Registrations: $299 (Entrepreneur/Startup), $449 (General Admission)

Learn More:

Entrepreneurship Isn’t a Profession, It’s a Lifestyle

“If you’re going to go fast enough to succeed, you’re going to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re going too slow and you’ll never win. It’s about how you deal with those mistakes that’s the key” – Dan Levin, COO, Box.

“Entrepreneurs Breakdowns and Breakthroughs” was produced and directed by Debbie Landa, Founder of Grow Conference, and Co-Founder of GrowLab. The 5 minute long video is jammed full of valuable startup insights, advice, and encouragement from some of today’s most respected founders and VCs, including: Sam Zaid, Getaround; Chris Arsenault, iNovia Capital; Ben Huh, Cheezburger; Dave McClure, 500 Startups; Mikkel Svane, Zendesk; Brant Cooper, The Lean Entrepreneur; Julia Hartz, Eventbrite; Scott Kveton, Urban Airship; Dan Levin, Box; Jeff Clavier, Soft Tech VC; Kate Rutter, LUXr.

The video makes for essential and compelling viewing, and provides many powerful takeaways.

HT: VentureBeat