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Devin’s Big Blog on the B.I.G.* Summit

At the beginning of this month, I was lucky enough to attend the B.I.G. Summit in Orlando, Florida.  The B.I.G.* Summit is a premier event for Business, Innovation and Growth that gathers entrepreneurs and leaders from across Central Florida. Throughout the day, I saw amazing presentations, participated in delivering the B.I.G. Award, and met a lot of very cool people doing very cool things right here in Florida.

Every speaker that day was amazing and taught me something.  Here are highlights of some of my personal favorites:

Jody Haneke

President | Haneke Design

Jody Haneke is president of Haneke Design, an interactive design and development firm focused on delivering user-centered solutions for desktop, mobile and tablet devices. Jody explored the topic of using mobile phones as a wallet. It makes sense! I used to carry around an iPod, GPS, a camera, a notebook, and a phone. Now I just have one fantastic iPhone. Why are wallets excluded from this? Integrating the wallet is the last piece. Having your wallet and finances completely digitized will give you better access and control of your spending. And, everyone's favorite, it saves paper. No more loose receipts or customer loyalty cards floating around your pocket.

Brian Meece

CEO | RocketHub

Brian Meece is cool. Really cool. He plays the ukulele, writes haikus, and is a fan of the Violent Femmes. Oh, and he also started one of the world's top crowdfunding platforms!

Rockethub is an international and open community that has helped thousands of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists raise millions of dollars and take their creative products and endeavors to the next level.

Brian's story offered perspective to creating successful crowdfunding projects. As someone who has attempted this before and plans to do so again, I was listening intently. Brian shared some of the steps to creating a successful Rockethub Campaign, and reminded us that the goal should not just be to raise cash, but also to raise momentum and awareness. Platforms like Rockethub allow even the little guys to get ahead with a good idea and hard work.

Jessica Jackley

Founder | Kiva

Jessica Jackley is a Founder of Kiva, the world's first peer-to-peer microlending website. Jessica's story was my personal favorite. It began with her touching on something that plagues most of us at some point - the seemingly inability to help those in poverty causing us to disregard them entirely. However, being an entrepreneur means you are creating something of value. What you create should be for the community.

Jessica focused on what she thought was important, and therefore was blind to the barriers that would hold most of us back.

She gave us four reminders:

1. Know your mission and identity. There were times when Jessica had to say No to opportunities that seemed like steps towards growing her business. Instead, she said Yes to staying true to her business’ goals and mission.

2. Stop to listen and learn empathy. “When we listen to someone else’s story very carefully it can change our own” - Jessica Jackely Taking the time to listen to others and learning their story will help shape your perspective moving forward.

3. Co-create and solve together. It takes a whole team of good ideas to solve problems. Work with others and build off one another’s ideas.

4. “You tell me.” Stand on your ideas and become your own teacher. Being an entrepreneur means everyone looks to you and you have to own your ideas!

The B.I.G.* Award

The theme for this year’s event was the Entrepreneurial Story. The B.I.G.* Award allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to tell their story for a chance to win huge prizes that will help their business.

Congratulations to this year's winners!

The People's Choice: Dramatic Learning

Dramatic Learning is the only educational arts program that combines academics with the artistic exploration and has helped over 1,800 student experiences in the Arts. They bring the Arts to the school setting and equip students with the skills that are needed to be successful both inside and outside of the classroom.

The Judges' Choice: REBUILD Globally

REBUILD Globally improves the quality of life for people in distressed communities by using techniques to promote education, gainful employment, agriculture and community development.  Co-Founders Julie Colombino and Sandra Fernandez told the true story of how transforming discarded tires from the streets of Haiti into recycled tire sandals transforms lives in both a devastated developing country and the City Beautiful.

All in all, it was a good day.  Any event with a group of awesome thinkers and movers is a fantastic place to be.  Even though the topics ranged from social media apps to animated commercials, I did find a common thread.  Each entrepreneur's ideas and achievements came from a search for something bigger and better than what they were currently presented with.  Each found something lacking, and worked towards building a solution.  And that’s a story with a happy ending for everyone.