Ever since South By Southwest, I wanted to put on a smaller version in Madison. SXSW was such an amazing experience because it was a place I could learn, meet awesome people and then relax with a happy hour and entertainment at night. I pitched Matt Younkle on the idea few months back and we decided we wanted to make something happen in Madison.
After some work, we settled on the Forward Technology Festival, headlined by Forward Technology Conference, Barcamp, High Tech Happy Hour, Capital Entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurship, startup and technology events in Madison.
We’ve partnered with the founders of the Forward Music Festival and have an eye toward unifying the dates for the music and tech festival in the future.
This year’s Forward Tech Conference will have some great sessions, including:
10:05 am – Startups 101: A panel discussion with Madison-area entrepreneurs with businesses at different stages of development. Hear what’s working and what’s not in today’s market. Your questions and participation are encouraged.
11:00 am – All About LLCs: Finally learn about the in’s and out’s of Limited Liability Companies. We’ll have an attorney and a CPA on the stage together to set the record straight, and you won’t have to worry about any hourly billing.
1:00 pm – Unconference: Here is where the attendees become the presenters! Come with topics to discuss and ideas to share. We’ll poll you and the other attendees for hot topics, and split off into four or five groups based on interest.
2:00 pm – Branding and Identity Panel: Learn about what to look for in choosing a good graphic designer, hear about relevant design trends, and learn about different identity philosophies from some of the area’s top design minds.
3:15 pm – Pitch Your Biz: Here’s your chance to pitch your new biz or big idea in front of your peers for some no-holds-barred feedback. Biz-pitchers will have exactly 5 minutes to sell the audience on their concept. After that, the floor is opened for feedback, compliments, and criticisms. Contact us if you’d like to be a Biz-pitcher
All of the session will have high quality speakers and presenters, but I’m most excited for the Pitch Your Biz session. 5 entrepreneurs will get 5 minutes each to pitch their idea, business plan or even full fledged business and then the audience will have 10 minutes per company to provide feedback to try to improve the business. I haven’t seen anything like it and I think we’re going to have some really strong presenters that should make the session really interesting.
After the panels, we’ve reserved the top level of the deck overlooking the Memorial Union where we’ll host a networking happy hour, with 2 drinks included in your registration fee. There will also be a live band on the terrace, which should be awesome.
I’m also excited that people in Madison are getting excited about technology, entrepreneurship and startups. I’ve already started to hear some buzz surrounding FTC2010 and think that Madison has the chance to really showcase its entrepreneurship credentials. After being featured in TechCrunch last week, people outside of the state are starting to figure out what’s going on in Madison. I’m hoping that Forward Technology Festival, Forward Music Festival and the rest of the Forward Movement can help bring the Madison community together around new, interesting ideas and the culture that’s needed to help the city grow.
What do you think? Are you excited for FTC2010? What panel are you most looking forward to?