Chicago Ignite: 14 Speakers, 5 Minutes ea. + Pizza = Great Event

By November 9, 2010

by Stella Fayman

What do you get when you combine 14 speakers with interesting ideas, 20 pizzas, one stage, 100 audience members, and a limit of 5 minutes and 20 powerpoint slides for each speaker’s presentation?

You get the powerful Ignite Fall event, which happened last week at the Gorilla Tango Theater in Bucktown. From gaming, to social grubbing, to philanthropic geeks, audience members enjoyed hearing passionate stories from speakers whose sole purpose was to “ignite” innovation and creativity.

Ignite is a global event series independently organized by people (like me) who want to spark people’s passions in a community. By having people share knowledge they’ve picked up, interesting news and analysis, or basically any topic under the sun (as long as its not salesy) community members are able to learn while also expose themselves to random information.

Here’s the premise: a speaker volunteers to share an interesting talk. What’s the catch? Presentations are limited to 20 powerpoint slides that auto advance every 15 seconds. This means that things move very quickly, and speakers have no control over the pace of their talk…eliminating boring and overly long topics. If you’re not interested in one subject (which is unlikely given the caliber of speakers) all you have to do is wait a measly 5 minutes to hear the next speaker.

Here are highlights from each presentation:

1) Leah Jones discussed urban cycling, body image, and how the former helped her get a healthier grasp on the latter.
2) David Kadavy dissed on Comic Sans and explained the origin of the font as well as why everyone hates it.
3) Mana Ionescu focused on the importance of execution and some steps to take in order balance planning vs. execution.
4) Joshua Hernandez talked about the gaming industry in Chicago, noting several trends and ways to improve the gaming culture.
5) Jessica Murray discussed how Nashville geeks came together for 24 hours to help a non-profit called Youth Turns.
6) Perry Romanowski joggled his way across the stage (that’s jogging and juggling) to showcase the health benefits of the sport.
7) Heidi Massey proselytized the importance of passion in a profession, using her career as an example.
8 ) Eddy Lin and Daishin Sugano shared stories from their GrubWithUs dinners, including (my favorite) how one girl assumed “algorithms” were named after Al Gore since he invented the internet.
9) Alex Mechlin shared insight into what details should be considered when making a music video.
10) Pek Pongpaet lived the dream of becoming a martial arts master, and shared it by showing how he became Raiden the God of Thunder in Mortal Kombat.
11) Leon Chism related how gaming culture and principles can be applied in many different aspects of life.
12) Anthony Cerra shattered basic ideas of retirement planning in lieu of creating passive income.
13) Flyover Geeks own Edward Domain shared the story of failure in his life and how he overcame it to start a new life.
14) Antony van Zyl talked about the democratization of the entertainment industry, showing how the internet makes content creation a reality for everyone.

We’ll be posting videos of each talk in the next couple of weeks, so check out the Ignite Chicago website to see them.

Stella Fayman is a startup enthusiast, and works for Chicago startup, the place where businesses comparison shop credit card processors. She organizes Ignite Chicago as well as volunteering for Future Founders. Check out her startup musings on her blog and follow her on twitter @StartupStella.