I spent the better part of last week as an attendee at transmission: GLOBAL SUMMIT 2012. Now that I’ve had a chance to process everything that went down during the event, I’ve got some thoughts I’d like to share with you, most notably regarding the latest addition to the summit: Innovation Camp.
Innovation Camp was an intensive time for 4 startups leading up to, during and following the summit. I stopped by Shoal Point’s Royal Roads campus to check out the proceedings as the pre-summit portion drew to a close.
One of the first things I recognized almost immediately was the intimacy of Innovation Camp. During the first two days, I believe there was a bonding that took place between all those involved, and I most certainly didn’t want to come in and disrupt that flow – or seemingly “mess” with what they had achieved in the first two days. So I excused myself from the area until close to the end of the activities, returning when the teams were in breakout session with their mentors so I could get a glimpse of what Innovation Camp had to offer and not intrude while doing so.
Wednesday was dubbed “Act Day”, and there certainly was a lot of action going on as I moved from station to station. The energy at each station was electric; there was passion flowing through both those presenting and those taking in the presentations. The ideas were flowing freely. I noted that there was a richness – an abundance – of not only energy and passion, but talent, creativity and innovation that was bubbling over.
Throughout the campus offices, there were inspirational quotes on the pillars – you couldn’t miss them. They were emblematic of the activity going on inside. They didn’t stand out to anyone walking past the office, where the light from outdoors easily shone through the numerous windows. But they definitely were reminders as you walked around; they drove me to action just being around them for a few moments. I can only imagine what they did for the Innovation Camp attendees over the entire period they were around them.
Some of the ways The Value Web (who essentially directed the camp) presented concepts served to spur growth in very unconventional ways. From asking startups to compose an elevator pitch that their young nephew could understand to having each startup come up with full stories to be used by their counterparts rather than themselves, this isn’t something you’d get at a traditional startup event. The approach used by The Value Web really allows the flow to occur – I’ve always found that the analog methods so many of us toss aside are far better for this type of work than digital or electronic methods. The platform makes for frictionless flow – and I could tell that it was working for the participants.
The curation process for these startups is crucial; they need to be receptive to what Innovation Camp offers on all levels, or no one wins. I felt that even while I was there at the tail end of things, the camp moved with all of the momentum of a perpetual motion machine; the gears were constantly turning. Ideas were being taken to new heights, minds were wide open, barriers were being taken down and doubts were being challenged – and in most cases, even quashed.
As I semi-patrolled the landscape, dotted not only with those pillars of quotes, but with Post-Its, Sharpies, flip-charts and whiteboards, there was never a sense of “the glass being half empty” – there was “fullness” no matter where you turned. There was structure within the flow and flow within the structure. That’s incredibly rare.
Even as The Value Web team tried to pull everyone back to the plenary room before lunch, it was a challenge to pull them away from their breakout sessions. There was still much to do – and learn – in their minds.
Since I wasn’t actively participating in the process, here are some of the “overheards” that caught my attention afterward, right from those attending:
“…the most fun I’ve had talking about business in a long time.”
“I’m usually so busy with my own business. To analyze everyone else’s business was fascinating.”
“…it was fun to inject yourself in situations you’re not usually remotely exposed to.”
As for what could happen with Innovation Camp, some suggested bringing in more startups – one mentor even said he could have handled more than the four that were present. It was even mentioned that Innovation Camp should go aboard, to tackle markets beyond the scope of what North America has to offer.
Ultimately, the takeaways for those present – including myself on a much smaller scale – was that Innovation Camp was an amazing experience. Despite it only being in its first year, it may already be time to take it to the next level, as it has for those who were lucky enough to be part of it.