Our call for sessions for our 2012 conference is now open. If you’d like to propose a session topic and/or speaker, please apply here. We will announce our 2012 sessions as they are finalized.

Chip Conley, Joie De Vivre Hotels

BREAKDOWNS & BREAKTHROUGHS: Success | Failure | Emotions

Who starts a company with no experience? Me…at 26. Joie de Vivre became the #2 boutique hotel company in America. But, when the economy tanked – and five friends committed suicide – I was devastated. Viktor Frankel’s "Man's Search for Meaning" inspired this simple math mantra that saved me: Despair = Suffering - Meaning. And I wrote EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS to help others better understand and manage their emotions in good times…and bad.

Suneel Gupta, Groupon

The Case Against Someday

Failure isn't our inability to succeed, but our inability to take risks. In this talk, we'll explore the reasons why people tend to play it safe, and the tools, questions, and approaches you can use on your more risky path to success.

Gina Bianchini, MightyBell
Cathy Brooks, Other Than That

Aim for Small Failures

The big failures, the really public ones, generally are not those from which one learns the truly important lessons. The important ones, the things that can deeply guide the way in which you shape your work, how you lead others, the way you make decisions - those come from the smaller moments, the little missteps, and the experiences we too often overlook. In this conversation, we'll take a long view of Gina's experience with failure, specifically discussing some of the things she's experienced in the development of her startups and take audience questions throughout.

Scott Berkun, Author

The History of Failing to Learn from Failure

Santayana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" but what odds do those who don't study history have? This fun, provocative talk shares great lessons from innovation history, using mistakes from great minds of the recent and ancient past, to inspire us to making great works today.

Braden Kowitz, Google Ventures

Pianos, Battleships, and Sneakers: Stories about Design and Failure.

Let's talk about failure and design. I used to fail a lot when I was new to design. And today... well... I still fail all the time. What the...? I'll build a prototype that my team thinks is amazing, we'll show it to customers, and they won't understand half of it. Wow does that suck. But should designers see that as failure? Do engineers and others see that as failure? Do we embrace our failure and adjust, or do we ignore failure and forge on with an original plan? Let's talk about that moment where we find the world isn't as we had hoped, how we all can learn to embrace that moment of failure, and how that will help us build better products.

Erin McKean, Wordnik

My Five Biggest Failures as a Startup CEO

Everyone likes to give new startup CEOs advice (and they have to, because there's no "How To Be A Startup CEO" guidebook). But despite the tons of advice out there, there are still plenty of ways to screw up. The most insidious failures aren't the ones that tank the company -- they're the ones that burn you out and reduce effectiveness in subtle ways. I'll talk about what I think my five biggest mistakes were, and how I learned from them.

Mike Arsenault, Rejoiner

How NOT to Manage Product

In 2008, MIke became the Product Manager for a web app called Spreadable. In 2009, it and $500k went up in flames. Looking back on the experience, his mistakes seem obvious. At the time, they weren’t. In this talk, Mike will candidly walk you through the mistakes made around team structure, early-stage product marketing and the challenges faced while building a startup inside of an established business.

Michael Wolfe, Pipewise

Social Proof Is Not "Proof"

An experienced team with multiple successes. An all star set of investors and advisors. A huge problem with the whole world clamoring for a solution. Would you invest? In this talk, Mike tells the story of ccLoop, a company founded with a great pedigree that failed to live up to its initial promise. Mike will discuss the lessons learned as well as how the team was able to pivot a great team, financing, and set of backers into an extremely promising new market.

Cindy Alvarez, Yammer

5 People I Should Have Fired Sooner

It's a no-brainer to get rid of the guy who never finishes his assignments or the gal who sent an expletive-laced email to a customer. But it's rarely that clear-cut. Your employees can be competent, passionate, and likable -- but still not a good fit for your organization. The hardest part of being a manager is knowing when to cut someone loose. It's a lesson that I'm still learning. I'll talk about 5 times where I failed, so that hopefully you can do better going forward.

Rahul Sood, Bing Fund

Post-Acquisition Culture: I love you for you...with just a few changes.

Congratulations, you did it! You successfully sold your startup, your baby’s going global, and you’ll be sitting courtside to oversee a smooth transition. “We’re so glad to have you aboard!” they say, “to get things rolling, let’s make a few tweaks.” The task list starts with making sure all that built up equity gets transferred to the mother brand, pronto. No biggie. Next, let’s put some people on your team who know the mother ship really well, to help you get integrated.” Sure. Gradually the “tweaks” start to feel like “bloodletting” and one day you have a soul-crushing realization – what made you YOU is gone. What are the ways you can try, fail, or succeed to preserve the very culture that makes your startup an acquisition target? I’ll talk about my own experiences and the insights I gained in the process.

Sean Ellis, CatchFree
Danielle Morrill, Refer.ly

Startup Marketing: You Can't Just Build It

If you build it, they will come; right?" Too many founders fall into this faulty logic, assuming that the amazing product they are building will magically fall into the hands of the exact right consumers. Others fall into the opposite trap, spending thousands on a huge marketing push that just leads no where. Danielle Morrill and Sean Ellis, both recently named among the top 5 startup marketers by PandoDaily, share the best and worst marketing practices they've experienced and how you can insure you don't make the same mistaken assumptions for your startup.

Ben Huh, Cheezburger Network

I'm Making It Up As I Go Along. Trust Me.

I'll share the myths and truths of being a startup CEO. The best part of being a startup CEO is exactly the part that scares us the most. How should we deal with uncertainty? How do we deal with certain bad news? Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.