Conferences here, conferences there, conferences everywhere.
There are a lot of conferences, summits, “un"conferences, gatherings and drum circles. Whether for your business or for your personal network and knowledge, the conference circuit can be very confusing. Not only confusing and overwhelming, but very expensive.
Happy 2015, it’s time to plan your year, or at least your year in conferences.
Last year I asked some influencers about what their favorite conference of 2014 would be and some do’s and don’t for those events.
This year’s prompt is different. There are so many conferences and only so much time and money, so which ones are worth the cash? So I asked influencers, entrepreneurs and founders of conferences themselves: What’s the one conference in 2015 that is worth the literal cost of admission, and why? Why is the conference you created so valuable?
1. Dent the Future
When: March 22-25
Where: Sun Valley Resort in Idaho
Why: “We picked Sun Valley because we wanted to be in a place where we owned the experience. You’re out of your normal environment, there’s basically no other reason to be out there than to be there with us. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear about someone in the DENT community doing something great. When you get together a group of folks that are trying to DENT the universe, there is opportunity to make the kind of connections that are going to persist.” – Jason Preston, co-founder of DENT.
2. Wisdom 2.0
When: Feb. 27 – March 1
Where: San Francisco
Cost: Starting at $625
Why: “The conference and community are totally transformative in both personal and professional lives. Wisdom 2.0 challenged us to re-assess our relationship to technology – not just as a means to connect with others, but as an opportunity to build well-being, self-awareness and compassion. And in contrast to other venues that might frame these qualities as ‘soft’ or afterthoughts, at Wisdom 2.0 they are presented as core and strategic. I left with tools, convictions and a network that have made me far more effective as an entrepreneur and leader.” – Abby Falik, founder of Global Citizen Year
3. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations
When: Nov. 19
Where: United Nations, New York
"WED is celebrated around the world – from Saudi Arabia to Australia. I have dedicated my life to helping the ‘underdog’ thrive. Historically, women worldwide have been underpaid, undervalued, underrepresented, underfunded and underestimated. We are dedicated, determined and driven to change this.” – Wendy Diamond, founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
4. Women Entrepreneurs Festival 2015 at NYU
When: Jan. 21-22
Where: New York
Cost: $350 for general public
Why: “This is the fifth year with a great lineup of all women. The price is right because entrepreneurs can put skin in the game but not a whole leg. Companies have been formed, partnerships made, mentors found and monthly meet-ups built. When all the walls are down, and a room is full of women, it is quite amazing what takes place. Women in the audience say to themselves, ‘hey, I can do that. They aren’t untouchable.” – Joanne Wilson, co-founder of Women Entrepreneurs Festival and angel investor
5. Future of Storytelling
When: Oct. 7-8
Where: New York
Why: “At the Future of Storytelling, everyone participates. There is no stage with speakers – all have a role to play. It’s creative, authentic, awe-inspiring and fun. It attracts a diverse group from a cross section of industries: tech, entertainment, arts and advertising/creative.” – Susan McPherson, angel investor and founder of McPherson Strategies
“My favorite of last year was the Future of Storytelling – small group of potent creatives on Staten Island for the day. All disciplines. And then site visits to places like Google and Razorfish. I met book publishers, architects, theater folks and people at the cutting edge.” – Margit Detweiler, founder and editor of TueNight
When: TBA. Last year: Sept. 25-27
Where: TBA. Last year: Chicago
Cost: TBA. Last year: Starting at $439 for ONA members and $769 for non-members
“News nerds unite at ONA, which is awesome.” – Kate Gardiner, a digital strategist, journalist and founder of Distill
When: Oct. 22-24
Where: Camden, Maine
Cost: Starting at $1.500
Why: “What makes PopTech so special is three-fold: the passion, quality and approachable-ness of the speakers; the remote location that actually allows you to truly disconnect; and overwhelmingly the community of people that attend. Every year I walk away having not only been inspired by the people on stage but by the caliber, depth and evocativeness of the discussions I have with my fellow attendees. Meeting some of my heroes over the years hasn’t hurt either.” – Alexandra Lee, director of business development at Crush & Lovely
When: March 16-20
Where: Vancouver, Canada
Why: “TED is absolutely worth the money. TED has set the gold standard for every other conference and it continues to maintain it. Even having done a fantastic job of democratizing TED Talks via TED.com, the IRL experience is exceptional. It is extraordinarily expensive, but if you are fortunate enough to be able to save up/have the funds/have your company pay to send you, it’s unmissable. The speakers are amazing, the breadth of ideas and inspiration is extraordinary, the experiential and immersive design of the event is phenomenal, and the people you bump into, meet and talk to are wonderful. You really do have to be there.” – Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn
Where: TBA, New York, NY
“With Biofabricate I wanted to ensure that attendees not only get to hear about the latest innovations and thinking from incredible speakers, but that they get to see and interact with those very prototypes or technologies first hand. Our design lab and pop-up DIY bio lab were mobbed during the breaks and lunch. A unique combination of part science-lab with part-art private view triggered many unlikely interactions over cocktails. I’m already hearing about how those conversations are leading to new collaborations and that is thrilling to hear! It’s the ultimate goal of the event.” – Suzanne Lee, founder of Biofabricate