Inaugural Wire Me Awake conference coming to South Dakota in October
You really can never get enough inspiration and motivation by networking and hanging out with creative individuals and expert speakers, can you? The Midwest has another event to add to its list with the emergence of the Wire Me Awake in Yankton, S.D., October 3-4.
Wire Me Awake is targeted towards people looking for inspiration, and its founders aim to do that by connecting attendees with an innovative set of speakers from around the region. Ben Hanten of Two Bridges Capital and owner of Ben's, a bar in Yankton, brought the idea to his co-founders, Dan Specht, Chad Ekroth and Thomas Ritchie. They were all on board with the mission and purpose behind the event. They believe it doesn't matter if you're an entrepreneur, educator, investor, community leader, in the medical field, technical field or business person, attending the conference will give you great contacts and ideas.
The speaker lineup is headlined by Frank Fritz, co-star of the History Channel's American Pickers, and includes two startup CEOs, a rural development director, a non-profit founder and a representative from an Omaha ad agency. So it appears there will be something for everyone.
The Wire Me Awake co-founders chose not to get sponsorships for the event or build in any profit into their setup. It was clear in my discussions with the co-founders that this event isn't about profit, but rather the opportunity to provide a day for people to explore and learn. Tickets are on sale for $152.50 and can be purchased at tikly.co.
I exchanged emails ealier this week with co-founder Dan Specht to lean more about the event.
Silicon Praire News: Where did the idea for the conference come from and what compelled you to start an event in Yankton?
Dan Specht: We know there is a lot of talent living here in the Midwest. There are people who are exploiting ideas and those who want to improve their lives. We thought we could put those people together to learn and collaborate with one another. Yankton has some great energy right now. Young people are engaged in leadership positions within the community and looking to press forward. The attitude is right and the hospitality is second to none.
SPN: What makes Wire Me Awake unlike any other conference out there?
DS: We really wanted to compliment our sister conferences like OTA and Big Omaha by highlighting speakers from the Midwest. Our speakers are doing it right here in our backyard every day. While some say it's impossible we know it's not. We want attendees to learn collaboration skills and give them a chance to form lifelong relationships. Bozell is a company from Omaha which was recently featured on the TV show called "The Pitch." They are going to allow people to connect early on in the conference by building relationships through collaboration.
SPN: Explain where the name Wire Me Awake came from and why it is relevant to this event.
DS: We have all been wired to an idea. You might stay up late or wake up early to work on a project that has you excited. This event is going to recharge you and connect you to others. It will 'wire' you to innovate and collaborate. In fact, it will Wire You Awake.
SPN: Give me a rundown of the speaker list for the event and how they combine for a unique experience.
DS: We knew it would be important to seek speakers that can bring a variety of talent and interests
to the audience. There is no doubt attendees will take something away from each speaker. Ranging from the new startup to the established enterprise and everything in between, we've got it. For profit, non-profit and community, it's all here.
- Emma Peterson is the CEO and Founder of Tikly. The day Emma was scheduled to graduate from the University of Northern Iowa, she started her own ticketing company. Her company has since been named one of the top five startups to watch by MSN Business on Main.
- Dan Hall is the Founder and CEO of Gun Up. Dan is a successful Seattle entrepreneur who recently moved his business and family to Sioux Falls for its favorable business climate and quality of life.
- Jim Beddow, a rural development advocate is a seasoned development professional and an advocate for enhancing rural areas. He is involved in numerous programs in South Dakota, including Rural Learning Center and the Center for Midwestern Initiatives.
- Nick Zahasky, CEO and Founder of Barrel Aid hated to see muddied shoes thrown away after cross-country running races. Before long, Barrel Aid was born. Today, the Sioux Falls organization provides water and shoes to Haiti.
- Omaha Ad agency Bozell is among one of the ad agencies recently featured on "The Pitch" on AMC. Their talent brings a creative force centered on collaboration and innovation.
- Frank Fritz is a Co-star of American Pickers. He's known more for picking through the barns and garages of America than for his startup roots, but that's exactly how Iowan Frank Fritz began his celebrity career that today finds him atop the popular cable series on AMC.