The Sage community was abuzz last Friday when our fellow Sage partner Klear Systems had the scoop on the list of Sage Summit Featured Conversation speakers. I did a bit of poking around, and my contacts at Sage were able to confirm that this list is accurate*.
So with this confirmation, allow me to re-introduce you to the 2016 Sage Summit Featured Conversation speakers:
A long-time investor panelist on Shark Tank, John credited his entrepreneurial spirit by participating in a high school program that allowed him to alternate working and attending school. For example, he began a commuter van service after graduating high school.
With his eye for business, John, a native of Hollis, Queens, turned a local wool cap fashion into the mega-brand FUBU with the help of his friends and his mother (who mortgaged her home for $100,000 to invest in the business). Wise investments run in John’s family: The brand is reportedly worth $6 billion today.
Stop right there, because I know what you’re thinking. “That guy? Really?” I’m saying that because I nearly did it too: Thinking of the character an actor plays instead of the real person behind the mask.
Ashton Kutcher is a well known venture capitalist in high-tech startups, such as Skype and Foresquare. He was a co-founder of A-Grade Investments, which then morphed into Sound Ventures. He also developed a Twitter client called A.plus It eventually led to the founding of A Plus, which grew into a social media-driven content platform focusing on upbeat articles.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow began an e-mail newsletter called “goop” (a derivative of her initials) in her own kitchen. The same year (2008), she co-authored Spain … A Culinary Road Trip with noted Italian chef Mario Batali. (She’s since written a few more food-inspired books.)
The newsletter was originally meant to be a way she could share her travel experiences, her collection of healthy recipes, and her shopping discoveries with her friends. goop has since grown into a website where Paltrow can share her experiences and recommendations with everyone.
Incidentally, there is a city guide for Chicago on goop in case you want some help exploring the host city for Sage Summit 2016.
As a child in the 1960s, Robert Herjavec lived under one of the most repressive regimes in the world in Yugoslavia. His family escaped (with one suitcase and $20) the Communist government in 1970 and landed on the shores of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and eventually finding shelter in a friend’s basement in Toronto.
With an English literature degree and various odd jobs under his belt, Herjavec ended up being hired by Logiquest selling IBM mainframe emulation boards. Completely unqualified for the job, he offered to work for free for six month, and went on to become the General Manager.
He eventually founded his own technology company, BRAK Systems, which he eventually sold to AT&T Canada for $30.2 million. Afterward, he founded the Herjavec Group, which is now one of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies and Canada’s largest IT security provider.
Like John, Herjavec has also parlayed his business success with a successful run on both Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den, the Canadian version of the show.
Zooey Deschanel also parlayed an acting career into a well respected brand. She co-founded HelloGiggles.com in May 2011 as a website for women, covering topics from careers, style, pop culture and daily news. This site also has a positive vibe, where the main rule is “no gossip.”
Time, Inc., bought HelloGiggles.com in 2015, with some reports saying the deal was eight figures.
You may not recognize the name Yancey Strickler, but you’ll know his business: Strickler is one of three co-founders of Kickstarter, the crowdfunding source for creativity. According to the Kickstarter website, 11 million people have backed a project, $2.3 billion has been pledged, and 103,716 projects have been successfully funded.
Kickstarter has seen a wide range of artistic creations come through its doors for a chance to have a successful life. Whether it’s Grandma Pearl’s Happy Canes or the Oscar-winning film Inocente, Kickstarter has made a successful business out of helping others who are attempting to find their own success.
And there you have it. Along with Sir Richard Branson, who will join Sage CEO Stephen Kelly for the Sage Conversation, these are the folks who will give us their business views at Sage Summit 2016.
Remember, Early Bird Registration has been extended until April 30, so make sure you make a wise business decision yourself and register before the price goes up.
* For the record, I am not implying that Klear Systems’ information was incorrect. My journalism degree requires me to double-check and independently verify with the source that everything was correct before I shared it.