7 Lasting Sales Skills from 7 Leaders

I dragged my butt out of bed at 5 AM. For six years.

But I learned more from my childhood paper route than rubber-band-wrapping technique or how to avoid hitting the snooze button.

I don’t care if you were mowing lawns or washing potatoes, your first gig took you from zero to moving. And I bet if you take a second to reflect, you’ll notice that you learned some sales skills in your experience that you still apply today. That’s what got me thinking…

If those sales strategies stuck with us all these years, they must be pretty important. That means there’s a lot of knowledge that we take for granted that could make an impact for others. So yesterday, I asked the question on twitter:

What sales skills did you learn in your first job?

Sales Skills from the Experts

The answers I received proves that life’s best lessons are never forgotten. These are seven of the best sales skills learned (and shared) by this community’s high-impact leaders. There are some awesome insights…

1.) Get sales skills even if you don’t have a quota to hit.

Because, guess what? There are no spare parts in an efficient sales engine. Do yourself a favor and heed Chuck’s advice.

2.) Show up like you give a damn.

No one said these sales strategies were going to be complex. It’s the small things that add up to make the greater impression. And if there’s anyone who knows about “every little bit counts,” it’s my friend, Pete the Planner:

3.) Work the system.

How many prospects do you have? How many leads in the pipeline? Do you know your average closing rate? Go ahead, you can use Excel (I won’t tell anyone). Just make sure you do the math, because you can count on this tip from business coach CJ McClanahan to pay dividends.

4.) You have two ears and one mouth. Use proportionately.

Telling isn’t selling. From software salesman to pizza delivery guy, this sales skill will always reign supreme (yeah, I just did that).

5.) Don’t let the line go slack.

I know you feel great about that initial sales call. But when you’re done patting yourself on the back, take a minute to send a recap with topics discussed and next steps. Lauren knows what’s up.

6.) Are you still listening?

Good. Because this is NOT a repeat of sales skill #4. Patience is an important a part of listening. So, next time you’re in a sales meeting and feel the urge to open your mouth, remember these words of sales wisdom from Wayne:

7.) Don’t bang your head against a wall.

It’s not a winning strategy. So, don’t waste your time talking to friendly people who will never buy from you. They are NOT your friend. Conner Burt, however, is a friend. And one worth listening to when it comes to sales skills:


But wait, there’s more…

BONUS: Sales Skills Feedback from the Facebook Feed

The conversation didn’t stop there. After sharing some of our twitter responses on Facebook, I found a few more golden sales strategies from more friends. Too good not to share (and more comments below that!):

sales strategies

The sales skills I learned with my paper route were simple: Be on time. Finish what you start. Say please and thank you. It’s the stuff your mom probably taught you. But that doesn’t make it easy to implement.

I’m just glad I had six years with that first gig to ingrain those skills in my brain.

Let’s keep the sales strategies rolling in the comments.

It’s almost as interesting hearing about your first job as it is to hear the sales skill you learned. So, please drop a note below…

Why Every Founder Should Give a TED Talk (and How to Optimize the Opportunity)

30 minutes. That’s 7 hours and 30 minutes short of the recommended 8 hours, and it’s exactly how much sleep I got the night before my TEDtalk. But, believe me, it was worth it.

TEDtalkTo get only a half hour of sleep is not glorious (or smart, as a long-term strategy). However, all-nighter mode is how a lot of us find time to ship those bigger projects that aren’t on the roadmap or part of the core business. It’s outside of that core where you can make some magic—for your startup and for yourself as a founder.

Have you ever noticed that some of the most important work may not be that urgent?

I was skeptical at first, but I’m here to tell you I was wrong. I’m here to share why taking time outside of your business to give a TED talk—that magical 10-to-20 minute presentation format—is not only worth it, but not as difficult as you might think. Here’s why…

Your scattered bits of thought become one solid thread.

My adrenaline was amplified higher than the time I jumped out of a plane above Miami. But by the time I heard my name called by the TEDx emcee, my message had been sharpened to a point.

Like all founders, my mission at my work has always been an enormously important part of my life. So, like any entrepreneur might do, I dug deep into my startup stories to compose the tapestry of my talk.

Of course, we don’t always feel like we have the luxury of time to look in the rear view. But when we give ourselves the gift of reflection, we can uncover value we didn’t even know was there.

After the weeks of background thought for TED x, I found that my musings in meetings and ideation sessions had more potency. As I catalogued my career experiences in moleskines and my evernote, it was like I discovered a Rosetta stone.  I developed a new language to express ideas and formed more powerful sentences from the words of my startup struggles.

This has become enormously powerful weapons as I suit up each day.

Well-prepared TEDxTalks turn your startup struggles into a fresh suit of armor.

TEDtalk preparation

Let’s face it, growing a profitable company can feel like a battle. And as a startup founder, you have to lead your troops charging across the field like you’re f*@king  Braveheart.

It’s true that nothing prepares you for battle like more experience on the field. But nothing locks in learning like glimpsing back at how your moves won you more victories (or didn’t). Well, there’s a reason.

Reliving the past struggles in your business will remind you what you’ve been through. As founders, we’re future-oriented creatures. This trait can be a strength when planning, positioning, or when painting the vision for your team. And if we let this future orientation keep ourselves oblivious to our blind spots, this trait can also hold us back from developing as leaders. But it doesn’t have to.

You’ve come a long way. You’ll feel it even more as you assemble your TEDx talk and dust off those start-up memories. Those scars are reminders that make us tougher and they become more valuable as we acknowledge them, derive new meaning, and celebrate them. But that’s not all…

Giving a TED lecture will shed your b#ll5h*t layer and get to the good stuff.


“So, do you want to jam some more?” I asked Jeb and Kevin, my fellow band mates.

“I’d rather talk more about this TED presentation,” Jeb replied as Kevin nodded his head. I was glad because secretly that’s what I wanted, too.  And then it hit me.

This is the kind of conversation that really matters. Not the trivial, surface-level banter, but the crucial conversations that make you better—not only as a leader, but as a person.

Grinding away at a topic doesn’t just help you become tougher and organize your thoughts. It can help you deepen relationships by making your conversations more meaningful. At the same time, your TEDtalk opportunity will spark all kinds of new connections. I’ve met so many inspiring people after presenting new ideas on stage. And TEDx was no exception.

As a founder, you’ll gain new allies—partners, talent, clients, and fans. And not just at the TED event, but in the research leading up to your presentation, and even afterwards, when that glorious video of your talk makes its way online.

I know you’re busy. It’s hard to justify taking hours out of your nights and weekends to construct a fluid 10-to-20 minute talk. But as a TED presenter, you’re going to ship more meaningful work in the long run (or not-so-long run).

It’s a magical event that will deliver a fuller entrepreneurial experience for you and your team. Trust me, sleep can wait just a little while longer.

UPDATE (11/18/2013): Video is now live on the TED YouTube channel:

This post was a reflection on the TED talk I gave at TEDxIndianapolis earlier this week. It was a huge honor share the same stage as some of the other creative presenters, including other company founders like my friend and fellow band mate, Jeb Banner (who talked about what businesses can learn from being in a band). Will update when the videos are edited and published!


Founder Story: How Jeremy Dearringer Scaled Culture, Clients, and Profits while Bootstrapping Growth

It had been only three months since I quit the company. But there I was, on stage again with the co-founder of a multimillion dollar company who had become a close friend over the past two years. Only this time, we had a much different relationship.

I first met Jeremy Dearringer when I was introduced to a small (at the time) marketing tech company named Slingshot SEO. Back then, Slingshot was less than a dozen people. Little did I know that the company was about to take off—and I was going to come along for the ride. 

Jeremy DearringerWhile I worked with that small initial team, I got to know the co-founders of Slingshot SEO (now known as Relevance). As they went into their biggest growth year in history, they offered me the opportunity to join the team as the head of Marketing. I jumped aboard and worked alongside a talented founding team: Kevin Bailey, Aaron Aders, and Jeremy Dearringer.

In the year that followed, we reached record-level growth and hit the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in America at #58. We more than tripled revenue that year, and grew the team from 30-some employees to over 100 Slingshot team members serving the world’s most innovative,  industry-leading, and deserving brands.

Relevance dominated by setting the pace of the internet marketing industry and sticking to their core values. And it was in March of 2012, after I had left the company, that I sat down with Relevance (formerly Slingshot SEO) co-founder Jeremy Dearringer to take a look back at their recipe for success:

Jeremy Dearringer, Co-Founder of Relevance on Bootstrapping Growth

In this first part of the fireside chat, Dearringer dives into:

  • Why entrepreneurs learn to take action early
  • How to build initial momentum with an idea
  • When to delay gratification of a founding team
  • If and how to choose a co-founder
  • How to sacrifice for the greater good of the business

But then Jeremy Dearringer digs into the good stuff. Here’s the story of their acceleration:

  • How Slingshot SEO hit Inc-500-level growth
  • Finding the point of inflection for growth
  • Why managing cashflow is key to long-term success
  • The benefits of building a client-focused culture (and why Relevance has the mission statement: “Make every client successful, make every client successful, and don’t forget to make every client successful.”)
  • How to overcome the challenges of scaling from 15 to over 100 team members
  • Why company culture is more than nerf guns, workday perks, or company parties

Jeremy, Aaron and Kevin, never forget what drives the hearbeat of their brand. Dearringer put it simply, “It’s about who you get to work with. So, please don’t confuse it with activities that you do.”

What resonates with you? How are you building your culture and scaling your own growth?

Verge Team Dominate

“This is just the beginning.”

That thought never crossed my mind when we started Verge more than four years ago. But it was the beginning—the beginning of new a movement.

With the energy and involvement of its members, Verge has grown from a rag-tag meetup to a kick-ass platform of 2,500 software entrepreneurs, developers and investors in growing startup communities. The people in our initial group shaped the foundation of a vibrant Verge culture.

team dominateI love our rebellious clan. We’re the crew that isn’t afraid to get out hands dirty. Our ambition and ability to embrace change is what built this unique community. But that culture was built on the shoulders of giants.

The brazen ambition of software pioneers like Mark Hill, Scott Jones, and the founders of Software Artistry not only provided the kindling, but continue to stoke the fire of entrepreneurship as founders and developers in our group launch and grow new companies. As fire starters, we’ve pursued validation for our ideas and celebrated the learning along the way.

Our most active members have directed the momentum of Verge and serve as a deep well of energy. With support from national networks like Startup America, Startup Digest, Startup Weekend (now known as Up Global), we’ve connected with the emerging startup community around the world.

I’m lucky to be a part of such an inspiring movement and our community has been so supportive as I’ve moved to get more involved and again as I’ve gone back full force into other startups. It’s been no secret that our group has been looking for the right full-time leader to beat the Verge drum 24/7. And that person could not have stepped up at a more perfect time and in a more spectacular way.

Alec Synnestvedt brings energy and skills that will fuel Verge in the next leg of its journey. As the new Executive Director for Verge, he already built amazing experiences within this year’s Innovation Showcase and is supporting new Verge hubs as they prepare to launch (keep an eye out in the coming weeks). But just wait until we unveil what we’re doing with our next Powder Keg conference.

If you really want to get a taste for the kind experience you can expect, check out next week’s Technology/Fashion/Design event that we’re hosting with the inspiring people at Pattern: Details Here >>

Alec has already proven that he has tons of potential and the raw talent to grow big ideas. And there’s so much more opportunity to provide more value for the community. Our plans for continued entrepreneurial learning, events with broader reach, and additional community hubs will raise the bar for what you can expect from Verge. See for yourself:

We have so much more to build. And we’re going to need your help to get it done.

Don’t worry, I still have my sleeves rolled up. I’m still working on Verge, but my role has shifted. My contributions will always help direct the vision of the group, and I have so much to share from the past 6 years working in startups—good, bad, and ugly. While you’ll still see me take the Verge stage, it will be in the spirit of sharing lessons learned in my pursuit for startup validation and growth. I’m trading in the emcee mic for a fireside chat chair (if I can actually sit still).

But, you know, I’ll miss it.

I’ve always loved contributing my energy as the Verge event emcee, but Alec has a vibe and style that I’m confident will rally our group month after month. And besides, I think he already has the “slow clap” down better than I ever did.

It’s already proving to be an awesome partnership. And our organizing crew is an ever-growing group of leaders we lovingly refer to as “Team Dominate.”

Looking at the work that Alec has been executing and the pace at which he’s building value for our startup community, I have only one thought:

“This is just the beginning.”

Find Your Voice So You Can Die Empty [Video w/ Todd Henry]

“In the midst of the craziness, everything in our life becomes unstructured,” Todd commiserated. We’ve all been there: pulled in different directions, out of sync, and just plain fried. But we don’t always know how to get ourselves back to that state of flow so we can do our best work.

todd-henry-headshotTodd Henry is the author of The Accidental Creative, a book that unveils how you can create your best ideas when you need them most. I was lucky enough to talk candidly with Todd about how we get ourselves in these various states of “fried” and (more importantly) what, exactly, we can do to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy.

As people leading and building high-growth companies, we can often lose ourselves in the work. But we’re in control. We can structure our lives and approach our work in a way that gives us more capacity to find our “why” and bring out the best in ourselves. With that kind of focus and energy, we live with passion and die empty.

In this 15-minute interview, you’ll get an overview of Todd’s approach to ramping your creative output as well as some hard-hitting tactics that you can put to use now:

Todd Henry: Die Empty.

How to Be Prolific, Brilliant, and Healthy

How does creativity fuel your business? What things do you do to keep your creative spirit?  

Join Todd Henry, Verge, KA+A, and the Ball Project at the Speak Easy this Thursday April 25 for a special event. The format for the evening will be really simple… and really fun, including a keynote presentation by Todd Henry, a fireside chat with Todd and Thad (touching on “Startups as a Band” and “The Band as a Startup”), and then we’ll wrap up with a concert by Leagues. REGISTER NOW >>

Ramping Up Your Indiana-based Startup This Year? This Could Be Your Golden Ticket.

UPDATE: Deadline extended to 2:30 PM, Fri. January 4

They’ve given away hundreds of airline tickets to entrepreneurs. They’ve granted millions of dollars worth of software. And they’re looking for a handful of founders who want ramp up their business in 2013.

Come on, you know who I’m talking about…

Startup Golden TicketStartup America has been known to leverage their partnerships with companies like American Airlines, Intuit, Microsoft, and the New York Stock Exchange to pull in massive favors for growing companies. Just take a glance at their board, which includes a LinkedIn co-founder, Netflix CEO, the CEO at FedEx, and Magic Johnson (as in the former-NBA-superstar Magic Johnson).  These “Wonkas” of the business world are connected and have offered to plug up to 10 fast-growing Indiana companies into their network and resources to ramp up that business in 2013.

Looking for that next national brand to sign on to your product as a customer? Or in need of some high-powered promotion to spread your brand success story?

Startup America is going to help through it’s local Startup Indiana chapter. But you have to take the first step, and it’s down to the wire.

Here’s how to apply…

This golden-ticket opportunity for companies with proven traction and momentum. Startup America will assist you by pouring gas on the fire. This is what we’re looking for our Startup Indiana ramp-up company:

That’s it. But you MUST apply by noon on Friday, January 4 if you want a chance to win this golden ticket. I know that’s a quick turnaround time, but that hasn’t stopped you in the past from taking advantage of big opportunities, has it?

Don’t put this off.  Even if you don’t win the golden ticket, our team at Startup Indiana will help you out in any way we can.



A Thank You to the People Who Built the Powder Keg

Last month, I was in the middle of one of the biggest project of my life. And if not for a few remarkable people, I’m not sure I’d be here now on other side.

I can still put myself in that moment…

I hit send on an email response #247 of the evening as I glimpse the hour on the clock tick past 3:00 AM. I swear I distinctly heard that “tick.” Less than two weeks out from the first day of the Powder Keg; conference for startups I had announced just 2 months earlier.

Powder Keg Logo

Our team had built impressive momentum including early Powder Keg press coverage, hundreds of new email subscribers, and six figures in new sponsorships. Yet there are months of work to complete (in a two-week period) before the first day of our three-day event that was to fill more than six venues.

In moments like these, doubt can start to creep in.

Lucky for me, I had something bigger than myself as the driving force. That’s why I have something important to say to the people who helped us build this first year of the Powder Keg:

Thank you.

You showed me we could do it. Then you helped find a way for us to create it together.

Powder Keg Presenters

You helped build the vision.

Thousands of Verge members raised their hands and said we should build something like the Powder Keg in Indianapolis. The emails, tweets, and comments built the scaffolding of Indiana’s first national startup conference.

Other regional startup conferences like The Combine, Chicago Tech Week, and Big Omaha inspired the Powder Keg experience. They showed us how we could develop our own voice and plant our own flag. Industry thought leaders, like best-selling author and Powder Keg presenter Julien Smith, helped us refine our vision into something with a platform that could be articulated.

You lay the foundation.

Exact Target is one of Indy’s most successful software companies and they are the leader in the email marketing space. They are also fire starters who still flex their entrepreneurial muscle by supporting grass-roots efforts like the Powder Keg.

Scott Dorsey at Powder Keg 2012

With the help of Exact Target CMO Tim Kopp and Vice President Mike Fitzgerald, we were able to bridge the gap between an established enterprise company and the startup community growing nationwide. Exact Target Marketing Director Amanda Leet and Senior Director Scott Roth collaborated with the Powder Keg to integrate our entrepreneurial energy into their global user conference, Connections.

Support came all the way from the top, with Exact Target founders Scott Dorsey and Chris Baggott, who candidly shared their entrepreneurial insight on the final day of the Powder Keg. They helped engage the regional software community to rally around our startup movement in a way that was nothing short of magical.

Powder Keg Startup Bowl Judges

You showed that you care.

I was blown away. We had a legion of people who stepped forward to enroll in the Powder Keg experience as volunteers. These teammates built the Powder Keg brick by brick and their fingerprints are all over the best parts of the event.

Early support from sponsors like Ice Miller, Compendium, and Barnes and Thornburg poured fuel on the fire. Meeting requests and phone calls to discuss Powder Keg with these organizations were met with, “How can I help?”

Dozens of other local organizations, who consistently breathe life into the startup community, came out to support the Powder Keg. People supported through sponsorship, PR, media production, venue location, event management, and event experiences like Wi-Fi, food and beverage, and photo booths. That’s how people knew that the Powder Keg was going to be exceptional.

Within 24 hours of announcing the event, we had more than 500 people sign up for updates through the email list. The social networks exploded with conversation from Verge members and friends of our group. This momentum built into incredible movement.

Powder Keg Performer Kishi Bashi

You brought it to life.

We found our name and defined the Powder Keg look thanks to KA+A, one of the best brand design agencies in the world. I put KA+A president Kristian Andersen on speed dial for brand discussions and event input. This must have driven Kristian nuts, but the hundreds of founders, builders, and investors who attended the Powder Keg experienced the impact of those conversations.

Local web design and marketing agency, SmallBox, helped build and maintain the Powder Keg website and get the word out about the event. Founder Jeb Banner went out of his way to support the event through shared resources, personal invitations, and dozens of other moments of assistance.

Without this strong local support, Powder Keg would have never made the connections to our national partners like Startup America, the YEC, Microsoft, Tech Cocktail, Fortify VC, Tech Zulu, and App Developers Alliance. They erected the platform from which Powder Keg participants could work their magic.

Powder Keg Startup Bowl Pitch

You shared the experience.

We had 12 startups bring their A-game to the Startup Bowl pitch competition at Lucas Oil Stadium. Their skill and ambition engaged our judges from Navidar, Microsoft, Elevate Ventures, and Fortify VC. Investors and other attendees in the audience gave their time and attention to get a taste of what is growing out of the Midwest startup scene.

By showing up with energy, ideas, and questions, attendees and participants set the tone for the Powder Keg. Even now, you still share the follow up articles and news. You fanned the flame as the stories came out in Forbes, the Indy Star, IBJ, Tech Cocktail, Tech Zulu and other blogs.

Powder Keg David Blaine

I hope that you enjoyed Powder Keg as much as I did. And if you couldn’t make it this year, I hope that you’ll be able to join us for some of the magic in the future.

Without you we couldn’t have done it. So, I’d love to know what you liked and, even more, what you’d like to see if we do another Powder Keg event next year.


The Lemonade Day Seed Fund: I Wish I Had This When I Was a Kid

Life didn’t give me lemons. I grew up in a lower-middle class home and never once worried if I’d have food to eat or clothes to wear to school. But we never had an excess of cash loads of toys or exotic vacations.

So how’s a wide-eyed, enterprising kid supposed to get a new Game Boy? (yes, I’m dating myself here)

Seems as though there wasn’t a business model I didn’t try:

  • Holiday wreaths (every winter)
  • Car wash (every summer)
  • Magic store (failed weekend project)
  • Paper route (every morning for 6 years)

The one I always wish I’d figured out: lemonade stand.

My cul-de-sac didn’t exactly have a parade of foot traffic. Picture me at my lemonade stand whilst a tumble weed breezes by. But don’t feel sorry for me.

I should have realized that, for my business, I hadn’t picked the right place (one of the four P’s: Price, Product, Place, Profit). That’s a lesson I didn’t learn until business school. What a shame. Did I really have to wait so long to understand the concept of “location, location, location?”

Hell no.

There’s all kinds of ways to help out a first-time entrepreneur, even if they’re just nine years old. With all the tech and startup blog advice out on the web, I sometimes forget that grade-schoolers need business mentors too. That’s why one amazing organization is helping thousands of young lemonade stand entrepreneurs startup and run profitable businesses with this nation-wide movement.

It’s called Lemonade Day, and there’s probably one in or near the city where you live.

Lemonade Day has two components:

  1. A month-long learning experience when each kid is paired with an adult mentor and coached through a step-by-step business-building process.
  2. The actual day of Lemonade Day, when each participant opens shop to sell lemonade at stands across the country. Over 65,000 kids in over 30 U.S. cities participated last year.

For those of you in the Midwest, near Indianapolis, you can come see what it’s all about next week. There’s a Seed Fund event being held at the Speak Easy on November 12 where all proceeds will be given to help kids start and grow their lemonade stand businesses. Local food and beer sponsors are making the event tasty, and Pete the Planner is hosting, so you know it’s going to be a blast.

Even if you can’t attend, there’s an option to donate to the cause on the event info page. Life may not give you lemons, but why not give a young, enterprising kid 20 bucks to start their lemonade stand?

Lemonade Day

How Indianapolis Is Mapping Their Startup Ecosystem

Have you ever needed to hire a developer or a designer? Or how about a funding source for a new venture?

Indy Made

Yeah, me too. We all need something at one time or another and it isn’t always simple to pull the pieces together. But with new tools and resources, connecting and navigating those waters is getting easier.

Indy Made is a new startup community platform that makes it simple for founders, investors, venture funds, and support organizations to register themselves and create a personal and organizational profile. Designed specifically for the Indianapolis and central Indiana startup community, Indy Made measures and maps the hoosier startup ecosystem.

Indianapolis Startup Community

Other cities have created their own solutions to this problem and many of them look very similar. Represent LA launched on “Silicon Beach” and then made the code free and available for other communities to replicate. Innovate SF sought to do something similar in the startup-laden San Francisco Bay area.

Tools like these become more valuable to it attracts more users. So, only time will tell how quickly Indy Made can gain mass adoption. At the time of this writing, there are already over 75 startups registered and over 150 individual user profiles on Indy Made. Will you sign up and spread the word?

What else do you think startup community tools like these should do?


The Magic Inside the Powder Keg

With so many variables, we could have never predicted that the Powder Keg conference would turn out the way it did.

You welcomed our speakers with enthusiasm and our Midwest hospitality. From national superstars like David Blaine and Julien Smith, to our local heroes like Chris Baggott and Scott Dorsey, your energy filled each venue with enthusiastic curiosity and passion.

You connected in person and online. Hundreds downloaded the Powder Keg iphone app and chatted in our private Bonfyre network. The questions and comments were just as good in person as they were in our thousands of #PowderKeg hashtag uses.

You supported through sponsorship and by showing up. We had over 350 attendees and more than 30 organizations sign on to support this inaugural year. Just take a look at everyone who turned out:

Scott Dorsey at Power Keg

Headline Sponsor

ExactTarget collaborated with us through a tight partnership with Connections, allowing our whole Powder Keg crew to bring our passion to the JW Marriott for the first half day of our conference. We caught presentations from leaders at LinkedIn, Foursquare and reddit, and David Blaine come into our section to perform magic for our Powder Keg crew.

ExactTarget CEO Scott Dorsey and Startup America CEO Scott Case lit the Powder Keg fuse in front of all 4,ooo Connections attendees during the Entrepreneurs Unleashed panel. Our section at Connections erupted when they called us out and invited the rest of Connections to join us at Lucas Oil Stadium for our Startup Bowl.

Premier Sponsors

  • Kishi Bashi at Powder KegIce Miller threw an awesome welcome party that filled the first floor of Sensu Nightclub. Sensu owner Jeffrey Mark welcomed our Powder Keg group with Ice Miller partner, Dustin Dubois.
  • Barnes and Thornburg hosted our second party at the Crane Bay. It was an intimate evening in the perfect venue with an inspiring performance by Kishi Bashi, introduced by Barnes and Thornburg partner David Wong.
  • SmallBox built and designed our killer fully-responsive Powder Keg website. Their whole team supported the Powder Keg initiative through promotion, volunteer efforts, and strategic leadership on our Powder Keg core team.
  • KA+A designed our brand and sponsorship information while providing strategic input on the conference throughout the entire planning process. These long-time friends helped us hone our vision and find our voice as a Midwest movement.
  • Compendium closed down the Powder Keg right with an awesome celebration at the Speak Easy and DeveloperTown. Action Jackson spun awesome tunes while Powder Keg attendees grabbed fresh brew from Upland, hot coney dogs from Dog ‘n’ Suds, and awesome West Coast Tacos.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of our sponsorship support and we’ll tell you more about our other sponsors in future Powder Keg posts. You can see many of them here.

Our volunteer team was massive and deserves all the credit for making this two-and-a-half day conference possible. With the support from our sponsors, they were able to create our magical Powder Keg experience. It was an experience and feeling that’s hard to describe.

But keynote speaker Scott Dorsey put it best in his #powderkeg tweet following his time on stage. Powder Keg was an “Inspirational group of entrepreneurs.” And we’re looking forward to channeling that inspiration into what comes next with Verge.

What were your favorite Powder Keg moments? Which videos and photos are you most excited to see?