Innovation Leader, Intuit
Bennett Blank holds the title of Innovation Leader at Intuit Inc. where his goal is to enable grassroots innovation, and make Intuit the best place to be an entrepreneur. As a member of Intuit’s high profile Innovation Catalysts team, Bennett has developed entrepreneurial coaching programs, and coached numerous teams through Intuit’s proven “Design for Delight” innovation process. Known for his unique combination of business, design and creative thinking, Bennett excels at transforming ideas into opportunities within organizations large and small. Prior to joining Intuit, Bennett was an active entrepreneur, founding multiple small businesses as well as an angel-backed design software startup.
Founder & CEO, Cheezburger
Ben Huh has always been a start up guy. His latest company, the Cheezburger Network, has been credited with bringing Internet memes to the mainstream and popularizing Internet culture. Ben founded the Cheezburger Network in 2007 and grew it into one of the largest humor networks in the world in less than two years — while making a profit during one of the deepest recessions. Ben credits the success of his company to the users and fans who create the content and those who started the sites he acquired, such as icanhascheezburger.com and failblog.org. His goal is to make the world happy for 5-minutes a day. Ben graduated with a BSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Design Partner, Google Ventures
Braden is passionate about creating great user experiences on the Web. He's equal parts interaction designer, storyteller, guerilla researcher, consensus builder, and scrappy prototyper. Over the past four years Braden has been focused on helping Google teams design and launch the first version of their product. He has led design for Google Buzz, Gmail, Google Apps for Business, Google Spreadsheets, OpenSocial, and Google Trends. Before joining Google, Braden spent his college years building virtual reality simulators at the Beckman Institute, and interactive visualizations at Lucent Technologies. He studied Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon.
Founder, Other Than That
Cathy Brooks has spent her life saturated in media – from print to broadcast and on-line. A career communications strategist, she presently operates Other Than That, a firm offering advisory services to companies and individuals wishing to navigate the complexities of persuasive storytelling in business. A specialized firm, the services help guide storytelling and, more importantly, help bulletproof brands. Through workshops and advisory services Cathy helps individuals and companies identify their stories and ensure long-term brand stability. To slake her thirst for content creation, Cathy blogs for myriad sites and hosts The Conversation, a weekly, on-line program that focuses on how technology is changing our world. In previously lives Cathy ran business development for San Francisco-based start-up Seesmic, worked with global analyst firm Guidewire Group. She also headed the talent and booking departments at TechTV, curated content at LeWeb for several years and has held several executive positions with PR agencies.
Founder, Joie De Vivre Hotels
At the age of 26, Chip Conley started his own hospitality company, Joie de Vivre (JDV) and, as CEO for two-dozen years, expanded it into a collection of over 35 award-winning hotels, restaurants and spas – the second largest boutique hotel company in America. Also an author, Chip is a veteran practitioner of emotional intelligence in business and in his New York Times bestselling book, EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success, he takes us from emotional intelligence to emotional fluency. The preeminent thought leader at the intersection of psychology and business, Chip speaks around the world on finding meaning at work, is a regular blogger on The Huffington Post and his own blog at www.chipconley.com. Chip has been honored with the highest accolade in the American hospitality industry, the coveted ISHC Pioneer award, and was named the Most Innovative CEO – and JDV the "2nd Best Place to Work" – in the entire Bay Area by The San Francisco Business Times. He received his BA and MBA from Stanford University, and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Psychology from Saybrook University, where he is the 2012 Scholar-Practitioner in residence.
Christina Farr is a San Francisco-based staff writer at VentureBeat covering enterprise, healthcare and education. Her writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Bay Citizen and TheNextWeb, among others. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, through TEDx Stanford and Ladies Who Vino, a networking event for Bay Area women. Her first and only startup was an attempt to take on both instagram and Flickr. It failed. She graduated from Stanford University with a masters degree in Journalism.
Director of User Experience, Yammer
Cindy has been helping companies build better products through intensely understanding their customers for over 13 years. Her background spans psychology, interaction design, product management, customer research, and lean startup tactics. She is constantly amazed by what you can learn from your customers if you just ask. She writes a blog called The Experience is the Product at http://www.cindyalvarez.com and tweets regularly as @cindyalvarez.
Danielle is CEO and cofounder Referly, an early stage startup that makes it easy for anyone to get rewarded for recommending things they love to their friends. Previously, Danielle was the first employee at Twilio where she lead marketing for Twilio for the cloud communications platform, and built a community of over 100,000 software developers worldwide. Danielle has also been a business process analyst for Fortune 500 logistics provider Expeditor International, community manager for early location-based social recommendation service Whrrl (acquired by Groupon), and Editor in Chief for local tech publication Seattle 2.0. She is a passionate advocate for global entrepreneurship through Startup Weekend, Teens in Tech, Code for America, Women 2.0, and as a mentor in residence for 500 Startups.
Author, The Lean Startup
Eric Ries is an entrepreneur and author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business, published by Crown Business. He serves on the advisory board of a number of technology startups, and has consulted to new and established companies as well as venture capital firms. In 2010, he was named entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School and is currently an IDEO Fellow. Previously he co-founded and served as CTO of IMVU, his third startup. In 2007, BusinessWeek named him one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech. In 2009, he was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership.The Lean Startup methodology has been written about in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review,Inc. (where he appeared on the cover), Wired, Fast Company, and countless blogs. He lives in San Francisco.
Erin McKean likes to call herself a Dictionary Evangelist. She is the founder of Wordnik.com. She was the editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2e, and is the author of Weird and Wonderful Words, More Weird and Wonderful Words, Totally Weird and Wonderful Words, and That's Amore (also about words). Her first novel, The Secret Lives of Dresses, was published by GrandCentral/5Spot in February 2011. She recently moved from Chicago to the Bay Area, rants about dresses on her blog (A Dress A Day), and she's actually really bad at Scrabble (but surprisingly good at roller-skating).
Founder and CEO, MightyBell
Gina Bianchini is passionate about how people use social software to organize and experience their interests and passions online and in the real world. Bianchini was an early pioneer in social software, beginning work in this area in 2004 when she and Marc Andreessen co-founded Ning, the first and largest social platform for interests and passions online. She served as CEO of Ning from its inception to March of 2010, at which time Ning had 90 million monthly unique visitors, 46 million registered users, and 300,000 monthly active social networks across entertainment, politics, education, and interests. In December 2011, Glam Media, a premier brand advertising company, purchased Ning for $150M. Today Bianchini is the CEO and founder of Mightybell, a new social platform seeking to revolutionize how people create, organize and plan creative projects and communities with friends. Gina has been featured on Fortune Magazine’s “40 under 40,” Huffington Post’s 10 technology “Ultimate Game Changers,” and 7x7 magazine’s “Hot 20” list.
Michael is a serial entrepreneur and has been a founder, founding employee, and/or executive at four startups. He was most recently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark Capital. Prior to Benchmark, he was a co-founder of Vontu, an enterprise security software company, acquired by Symantec for $350M in 2007. He spent two years at Symantec, including a year as the CTO of the Enterprise Product Group, a $4B business with 5000 engineers inside of Symantec. Prior to Vontu, Michael was a founding employee and VP of Engineering at Kana, the pioneer in web-based CRM. Mike started his career at Goldman, Sachs in New York and London. He has taught at Stanford University and lectured at Harvard, Dartmouth, and St. Mary’s business schools. When Mike is not working or with his family, he enjoys, triathlon, cyclocross, ultra-distance running, loves travel, and loves living in San Francisco.
Mike is the Co-founder & Product Manager at Rejoiner, a SaaS company that makes it easy for online retailers to turn abandoned carts into customers. Prior to Rejoiner, Mike spent three years as a Product Manager at Grasshopper where he was part of the team that brought Chargify and Spreadable to market. At the beginning of his career, Mike was a member of the marketing group at Continuum, an innovation and design firm based in Boston.
General Partner, Bing Fund
Rahul Sood joined Microsoft in January of 2011 as a GM in the interactive entertainment business at Microsoft. He created Bing Fund, an angel fund with an incubator program that is backed by Microsoft’s Online Services Division, in February 2012. A serial entrepreneur, Sood spent 16 years in multiple startups prior to joining Microsoft, including VoodooPC, BrightSquid Medical, and BullsOnWallstreet. Sood’s personal passions include using technology to improve healthcare. He would like to assist in the development of technology-based toys that help children with autism discover new ways to communicate. He is also active in the entrepreneurial community, helping and mentoring a variety of startups.
Author, Mindfire, The Myths of Innovation, Making Things Happen
Scott is a writer and speaker. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian, Wired magazine, National Public Radio, The Huffington Post and other media. He has taught at the University of Washington, blogs for Harvard Business and BusinessWeek, and has appeared frequently as an innovation expert on CNBC and MSNBC. Since Aug 2010, Scott also works for Automattic on WordPress.com. He worked at Microsoft from 1994 to 2003, mostly on Internet Explorer 1.0 to 5.0 (not 6).
Founder & CEO, Qualaroo
Sean Ellis was the first marketer at several notable startups, including Dropbox, LogMeIn, Lookout, Xobni and Uproar. At LogMeIn and Uproar he led marketing through the NASDAQ IPO filings. Sean is now founder and CEO of Qualaroo, an online toolset that makes it easy for marketers to launch campaigns on their websites to improve visitor engagement and understanding without ongoing help from their dev team. He blogs at Startup-Marketing.com.
Director of Product Development, Groupon
Suneel loves to build stuff from scratch. Prior to serving as Groupon's first product leader, Suneel built products for Mozilla Labs, blogged for MTV, developed television concepts for Sony Pictures, led trade efforts in Ghana, wrote speeches in President Clinton's West Wing, and produced the Kahani Movement, an interactive film project with his brother, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN), which debuted at South by Southwest.