Annual summit seeks to connect Columbia entrepreneurs

Secretary of State Jason Kander speaks about job creation in Missouri at the #Boom conference in Columbia on Feb. 21, 2014. | Philip Joens/Missouri Business Alert
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander spoke at REDI’s annual entrepreneurship conference in 2014. This year, Kander’s wife, author and serial entrepreneur Diana Kander, will present at the event. | Philip Joens/Missouri Business Alert

Columbia’s annual entrepreneurship conference has a new name, but its ultimate goals remain the same: helping spark connections and ideas among area entrepreneurs.

The Regional Economic Development Inc. will host the Ignition Entrepreneurial Summit on Friday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Columbia’s Holiday Inn Executive Center.

The event was called #BOOM in years past, but the new name better reflects what the event is about, event co-producer Keith Politte said. He said the conference is designed to connect entrepreneurs around mid-Missouri with each other and give them a place to network and grow their businesses.

“It just wasn’t descriptive,” Politte said of the old name. “So, the coordinating committee was thinking we like the energy of that name, but we want something that articulates what it’s trying to address. So, we hit both the energy and the descriptive requirements of the event.”

Speakers Friday will include AdKarma CEO Bobby Campbell, Veterans United Home Loans co-founder Brant Bukowsky and University of Missouri student entrepreneur Connor Hall.

The morning will include speed networking, a lean startup workshop conducted by author and serial entrepreneur Diana Kander, and a young entrepreneurs panel.

Politte said that afternoon workshops will focus more on the mechanics of starting a business, and running a business after its creation. Columbia-based startup Equipment Share, which got its start at Startup Weekend Columbia last fall and recently was accepted into prominent startup accelerator Y Combinator, will participate in a session on business pitches.

“Then we spend some time describing how you build value into a company,” Politte said, “explaining how you build value into a company, with a mind toward an exit, or however you want to grow the company.”

Politte said that though entrepreneurs can pick up many skills at the event, networking and connections are a major emphasis of the conference.

“I think it’s always about networking, but I think what we always try to do is facilitate it a little bit better,” he said. “So we have a lot of different tools we’ve built into the program.”

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