Accelerate Your Business: The Pros Descend Upon Denver

ARCHIVES: May 9, 2016

by Jamaal Curry

As I launch my new blog site, it seems only fitting that the first entry post would be about the recent Accelerate Your Business conference held in Denver, CO. The event was put on by Entrepreneur Magazine and sponsored by Microsoft and Dell. This was my first #acceleratebiz conference, and for being free, it was pretty fantastic. I almost think this event should cost...but don't tell them I said that!

The MC and host for the event was Amy Cosper, Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine. She was fun and engaging as a host, and was very personable. I met her in passing after the event was over.

The first speaker of the day was Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. He talked about how he walked away from his LSAT and had an idea for a mobile food-ordering system. He convinced his friend, Steve Huffman, to abandon his original plans, and co-found a business with him. Reddit was not their first gig, and Alexis chronicled the journey for he and Steve to arrive at founding Reddit. It was actually a pretty cool story!

Alexis gave some good entrepreneurial advice. Two things that stuck out to me were:

  1. Sucking is the first step at being sorta good at something (not his original quote!) and
  2. Don't play house

In regards to point number 1, Alexis talked about how everyone kind of sucks when they're first starting out. He showed the first site versions of Facebook, Reddit and others...and boy were they bad :) That should be encouraging to 'treps! And "don't play house" means don't spend too much time focusing on things related to your business, and never get around to doing actual urgent stuff. Alexis spent an entire day designing business cards once, and basically wasted a bunch of time. There was lots more that he covered, but I'll leave it at "I read it on Reddit." Once more for ya, Alexis!

#Microsoft VP, Jordan Chrysafidis, and #Dell VP, Erik Day, who discussed new products. Great information, I'm just a Mac guy, myself!

There was also a panel on cyber security that included Promise Phelon, CEO of Tapfluence, Sally Hatcher, President/COO of Kindara and Ramon Ray, Founder and Publisher of Smart Hustle Magazine...and one of my newest favorite people. I'm not at the place where I need to focus a lot on cyber security for customers just yet, but still very informative. The reason I say Ramon Ray is one of my newest favorite people is because he was so fun, energetic and insightful. After the event, there was a rotating networking session with many of the pros. I started at Ramon's table and learned so much more from him in that 10-minute span. He gave great tips on personal branding and mentioned his book: The Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing that he co-wrote with Facebook. I asked if I could have it...and he just gave it to me! He even complimented my assertiveness. I definitely will continue to follow him and hope to cross paths again someday.

Fellow Chicagoan, Carol Roth, gave a great presentation on customer loyalty, and talked about her 5 pillars of Customer Loyalty: Products & Services, Customer Service, Community/Affinity Group, Experiences and Bridge. Her presentation was jam packed, and very informative. This was one of those presentations that you'd refer to time and time again as a business owner. Just great reminders about how to create and sustain customer loyalty. Side note: Carol Roth TOTALLY reminds me of Leah Remini! Carol is also a judge on Mark Burnett's America's Greatest Makers.

Last, but certainly not least was Jon Levy, Consumer Behavior Expert. As you can probably imagine, he talked about the psychology of consumers and how that might affect us as entrepreneurs and business owners. It was great information because I think sometimes as creators, makers, etc., we tend to get fixated on our product or service, and how we want to get it into the hands of folks, all the while maybe not paying as much attention to 'why' someone might choose our products. One fascinating this that stuck out was when Jon talked about the example of one store looking at customer loyalty using punch cards. Some patrons were given standard 10-punch cards to start earning their way toward a free coffee, smoothie- whatever. While other folks were given a card with 12 punches, with two of them already punched. Basically, both groups still had 10 punches to go toward earning their reward. What they found was that the group with two punches to their credit already were 70% more likely to complete the card. Again, they still had to buy 10 drinks just like the other group. Alas, psychology! Jon was cool and stuck around after his presentation to answer questions.

All in all, it was a great event, and not a bad way to spend a Wednesday. It was a bit of an early start as I had to drive an hour or more into Denver, but no complaints on my part. The Hyatt Regency Denver was great and I only had to pay $14 for underground parking at the hotel. Which for downtown Denver, or any major city, that's a steal. Continental breakfast was included and so was lunch. But more than anything, to have all that wealth of knowledge descend upon our state's capital, and to give it away for free, is priceless. I'd definitely attend another conference, and actually I hope to speak or be on a panel for an Accelerate Business event one day. Thank you to all of the presenters, Entrepreneur Magazine, Microsoft, Dell, and the wonderful staff at the Hyatt Regency Denver for an amazing event!

On another note: I really want to see #MoneyMonster!