The concentration of 20-something innovators and disruptors (aka start-up founders) in San Francisco well-known. Go to any bar, coffeehouse, street fair or networking event and you can’t help stumble-across wantrepreneurs, and those making big business out of nascent ideas. It is clearly the epicenter of the Idea Age. Philip Rosedale, known as the founder of Second Life, says that the concentration of those interested in being part of the start-up experience is 10-times more concentrated in San Francisco, five-times more in New York and three-times more in Seattle, than other cities. Where did I hear these statistics? At a gathering of one-hundred 20-something innovators and disruptors, of course.
The IdeaMensch 48 road trip came to town this week. Mario Schulzke, founder of IdeaMensch is the idea-man behind these gatherings—50 of them in all, scheduled over 115 days in all 48 contiguous states. The purpose? Finding ideas wherever they are created, and empowering people to bring their ideas to life.
“Ideas by themselves are rather worthless. They only matter when they’re brought to life. Who brings ideas to life? People bring ideas to life. And when they do, amazing things happen.”
The IdeaMensch Roadtrip is just as it sounds—four guys traveling across the country in a Honda Element SUV, staying in Travelodges, or crashing on friend’s couches—with the goal of bringing together small groups of people who believe that ideas can make change.
In San Francisco, IdeaMensch set up shop in a start-up incubator and shared workspace called RallyPad, handed out hand-written nametags, pizza, cookies and bottled water; and got down to business. The set-up was basic—folding chairs, a wired mic and projected PowerPoint slides. But there’s no need for fancy lighting, banners and staging—it is the ideas that count for IdeaMensch.
These are the speakeasies of the Idea Age—small gatherings of like-minded people looking to get drunk on ideas and inspiration to dream big, and turn ideas into reality.
For the San Francisco event, Mario managed to wrangle five well-regarded, and well-known entrepreneurs in a town known for its entrepreneurs: Philip Rosedale; Sarah Lacy the former TechCrunch editor who’s bringing old-school journalistic ideals into new media with PandoDaily; Nikhil Arora the co-founder of Back To The Roots who grabbed hold of a seed-idea heard in a college classroom and turned discarded coffee grounds into a thriving business; Aaron Schwartz a former management consultant who is building Modify Industries, a customer-focused business which is “delivering happiness” the Zappos-way; and Brian Wong, the 21-year old founder of Kiip, a mobile rewards network who’s presentation on the value of luck and serendipity was inspirational. The evening’s mood was casual and collegial. Each speaker got the chance to tell the story of how they “brought their ideas to life” and shared lessons learned with the hungry crowd. Each presenter was clearly well-received. The Q&A sessions for each could have gone on all night had they not been time-managed by our host Mario. I noticed swarms of wantreprebeurs and entrepreneurs surrounding Nikhil after his speech— handing him their business cards, hoping to connect further and share plans and dreams.
The IdeaMensch Road Trip is just getting started with 48 more meet-ups to go and proving that bringing ideas to life can happen anywhere, at any time and because people with ideas live everywhere.