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5 Ideas How to Make Conferences More Sustainable

Conferences are inherently really unsustainable – even those that take place, in order to counteract climate change and foster sustainable innovation.

Bringing thousands or even tens of thousands of attendees together to a single location takes a colossal toll on the planet, comprised of carbon emission due to air travel, hotel stays, local transportation, waste at the event, increased energy usage and more. Exact numbers seem hard to come by, but take for example the United Nations Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen in 2009 – it generated a carbon footprint of 42,000 tons of carbon solely due to air travel – and that doesn’t take into account the damage incurred from the actual event.

However, there are many things that event organisers of large conferences CAN DO, to make their events more sustainable. Here are five ideas.

 

1. Eliminate the paper trail by using an event app

Don’t give out any printed conference schedules or brochures. Instead, utilise an app for the event. It’s cleaner and zero-waste.  There are many providers of event apps – start with guidebook.com, or crowdcompass.

 

2. Ban drinks in disposable packaging and use refill stations with durable containers

Instead of handing out countless little cans of soda, and water in plastic bottles, set up several water and soda fountain stations. If you have a bar, then serve beer from the tap, and wine from the barrel. Forego cheap paper and plastic cups and hand out a conference-branded stainless steel pitcher to each attendee that needs one. This will add a classier feel to your conference and significantly reduce the waste impact of your event.

3. Offset the impact of travel through a carbon offset service

Use a carbon offset service like Atmosfair or Terrapass to “neutralize” the carbon footprint caused by air travel for the conference. You can guesstimate your carbon footprint or reach a more accurate estimate by asking people for their location and intended method of transportation when signing up for ticket. This doesn’t address the root cause of the issue, but treating the symptom will help create awareness.

 

4. Offer shareable experiences instead of goodie bags

Instead of having exhibitors give away tons of goodie bags and leaflets, provide exhibitors with support from your organisation to create an attention-catching banner or oversized mascot for people to take pictures with. Let’s face it, people won’t do anything with the usual set up mini give-aways anyway. Providing attendees with branded photo stations instead will give your brands the exposure they need – and it’s more fun!

5. Zero emission shuttle service 

I’m a huge fan of the Arcimoto. An Arcimoto is basically the electric 5.0 version of a TukTuk. They’re not yet available to purchase or rent without a pre-order, but they will be in 2018 – and these things make for a perfect shuttling vehicle for events like this. Depending on your budget, you can shuttle your VIPs around in rented Teslas, or hire a bunch of bicycle cabs for the event. Consider renting out hoverboards, bike, e-bikes, Arcimotos, and more to event attendees. If applicable, provide free public transportation passes with your tickets. Some hardliners might still take a gas car or Uber, but they’ll eventually come around. The opportunities to create a zero emission transportation culture around your event are pretty much boundless.

… Let’s be more conscious!

Conference organisers have the opportunity, and also the responsibility to promote sustainable practices to key influencers and business leaders.

None of these steps will turn a conference into a zero-impact event. Unfortunately, the only conferences that have ZERO impact are the ones that aren’t taking place. Even online conferences utilise some resources. However, as a society we need to take steps to proactively protect the environment in ALL AREAS OF BUSINESS. Conferences are not an exception. While it may be easier to just go on autopilot and let the plastic cups pile up at the event, we need to take charge and change our ways of conducting events. Being environmentally responsible will help raise awareness among conference attendees, which could contribute to greener practices for many businesses around the globe.

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14 Must-Attend Startup Conferences in the US, Europe and Asia for 2017 and 2018

With the level of digital connection we are accustomed to in 2017, it has become incredibly easy to connect with other entrepreneurs and stay up to date on the latest developments in tech. But, there is something really special that happens when you step out and actually connect with industry experts and entrepreneurs in real face-to-face interactions. When you bring a lot of creative people into a giant hall, there is a special kind of energy in the air, an energy that fosters deeper connections, and a kind of collaborative creativity, that is impossible to find in the virtual networking space.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur, you might feel overwhelmed by the crazy amount of conferences out there. It doesn’t take much to start a conference, and not all of them are worth the financial investment and time investment to attend. However, some conferences are just  THAT GOOD that you shouldn’t miss them under any circumstances. If you’re currently growing your business and want to get exposure, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve collected a list of 14 amazing conferences, that will get you lots of exposure and that are coming up soon. All of the conferences on the list take place between late in 2017 and the summer of 2018. Make sure to sign up for tickets in time!

 

#1 Summit in Los Angeles / November 3rd-6th, 2017

Summit in LA is an invite-only conference for 3500 attendees, frequented by conscious leaders in technology, startups, arts and culture. If you’re not part of their network yet, get your online profiles up to date, apply on their site and keep your fingers crossed. It’s well worth going.

#2 Web Summit in Lisbon – November 6th-9th, 2017

Web Summit is the largest technology conference in the world! If you’re looking to reach a broad audience, go to Web Summit. This conference presents incredible networking opportunities, due to its sheer scale. The list of speakers at Web Summit includes political heavyweights like Al Gore, the president of Microsoft, the CEO of Reddit and many others.

#3 Slush in Finland – November 30th – December 1st, 2017

Slush is an interesting conference, in an unusual setting. It has often been described as “Burning Man meets TED.” Run by a committee of students, their setup changes yearly. It takes place in extreme weather conditions (Finland in the winter) and is extremely popular with the Silicon Valley crowd as an amazing getaway + networking event. Sign up early and pack your warmest clothing for an unforgettable experience at Slush!

#4 TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin / December 4th-5th , 2017

TechCrunch Disrupt is an authority in debuting startups, introducing new technologies and introducing new topics into the worldwide startup ecosystem. It features a Startup Battlefield competition, a 24-hour Hackathon, Startup Alley, Hardware Alley, and After Parties. As an added bonus, this year’s Disrupt is taking place in Berlin, one of the biggest, thriving startup cities in Europe.

#5 Startup Grind Global in Redwood City, Feb 12-14 2018

Startup Grind Global is a great meeting place for startups and Silicon Valley. Held in Redwood city, Startup Grind Global has featured speakers from Lyft, Google, YC, Instagram… With 5000 founders and investors, more than 40 keynote and fireside sessions, and over 50 exhibiting startups, this is Startup Grind’s largest event ever.

#6 SXSW / South by Southwest, March 9-March 18 2018

The South by Southwest festival, usually abbreviated to SXSW combines, or shall I say, converges technology, arts and humanity during a 10-day long 72000+ people event. It provides an opportunity for professionals at every level to participate, learn and network.  SXSW is a unified conference that provides 24 tracks, plus an Eco Cities Summit and has features past speakers like Barack Obama, and many others.

#7 Launch Festival in San Francisco, April (dates TBD)

Launch is an incredible festival in the heart of tech-country (San Francisco). It was founded by renowned angel investor Jason Calacanis and celebrates innovation and product launches. During the conference, 50 startups reveal their concepts and “launch” right at the event. They all compete for 100000$ in price money. Aside from the startup competition, Launch has featured past headliners like Mark Cuban, or Paul Graham.

#8 Collision New Orleans April 30th-May 3rd, 2018

From the organisers of Web Summit, Collision prides itself on its status as the “world’s fastest growing tech conference.” It attracts a high profile crowd and takes place right before JazzFest in New Orleans. Lots of Collision attendees stay for JazzFest, which might explain, in part, why it’s such a popular conference. Collision has about 20 000 attendees of which over 3000 are CEOs.

#9 StarUp in Bangalore, India May 6th to 7th, 2018

StarUp is India’s biggest and best startup summit. It’s held place in Bangalore, which is often described as the “Silicon Valley” of India. It’s a relatively small conference (2000+ attendees) which is growing rapidly every year and brings together the Indian, Asian, Israeli and European startup ecosystem. If you are interested in the Indian startup ecosystem, StarUp is THE conference to attend.

#10 Future of Fintech in New York, June 19th – 21st, 2018 

The Future of Fintech conference is an exclusive gathering of the world’s largest financial institutions, best fintech startups and most active venture investors. Topics covered range from the blockchain, to emerging markets, regtech, algorithmic hedge funds and trends to watch over in the next year. Even if you are not specifically in Fintech, Fintech is nearly everywhere around us, and at this conference, you will be able to see a lot of current trends and developments in the industry that might have a major impact on the future of your startup, no matter what field you are in.

# 11 World Domination Summit in Portland, June 26nd to July 2nd, 2018

World Domination Summit in Portland explores one central question: “How do we live a remarkable life, in a conventional world?” Consider attending this 10000 person conference if you’re looking for a sense of disruption and possibilities. World Domination Summit is a great conference to attend if you are looking for inspiration and want to meet like-minded people who want to build the future.

#12 RISE in Hong Kong, July 8th – 11th, 2018

Rightfully dubbed “the new hot ticket on the tech conference scene” by Forbes, RISE is yet another growing conference produced by the Web Summit team. It is packed with tech startups from Asia, and all other markets, features VC heavyweights and speakers from the world’s biggest brands. RISE has become very successful, because it launched in a market that had a deep-seated need for a conference of this type. Connect with Hong Kong and the rest of the world at Rise.

#13 Startup+Fest in Montreal, July 11th-14th, 2018

The Mission of StartupFest is, “to inspire the global startup community through the unforgettable + unconventional.” It’s a global gathering dedicated to the growth of startups and brings together founders, innovators and entrepreneurs. It features speakers from Reddit, Paypal, Shopify and many more, and over 500K in prize money. It also has many premium high value premium “fests” that require separate registration. The list includes an Angel Fest, Hacker Fest, Scaleup Fest, Accelerator Fest and more.

#14 Tech Open Air Berlin, 11th-14th July, 2018

Tech Open Air, usually abbreviated to TOA Berlin is a leading interdisciplinary tech festival, held annually in Berlin. Their mission is to “connect, grow and inspire the human spirit through in interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and collaboration.” TOA is a super popular festival with founders, VCs and CEOs around Europe and the US. It has been called “Berlin’s answer to SXSW” by Venture Village and got its’ start in 2012 through crowdfunding. TOA is cool, edgy and should not be missed by any aspiring or successful startup founder.

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What it’s like to take a ride in an Arcimoto

First of all… What, the heck is an Arcimoto?

An Arcimoto, in black and yellow

The Arcimoto is a new electric transportation device that technically qualifies as a motorcycle, but has been dubbed FUV, or “Fun Utility Vehicle” by its makers. It’s a 2 passenger, 3 vehicle electric vehicle with a base price of 11,900$. It speeds up to 80 miles an hour, has an 80 mile travel range, and you can charge it up by plugging it into an electric socket.

Another Arcimoto, parked at the Founder Institute Silicon Valley HQ

Arcimotos are only available for pre-order right now, but I got to take a ride in one at the Arcimoto IPO party on August 24th at the Founder Institute Headquarters in Palo Alto. It’s hard to put into words how amazing of an experience that was. It was exhilarating! This Arcimoto promo video maybe illustrates a bit how fun it was, but IMO nothing beats the real experience. I had watched that video a few months ago while Arcimoto’s CEO Mark Frohnmayer gave a presentation down in Palo Alto, and I was curious about trying out the Arcimoto, but honestly, I did not think it would be THIS fun until I actually tried it.

The back seat experience:

The Arcimoto from the side – Jesse Fittapaldi (VP at Arcimoto), me

It reminded me of taking rides in a TukTuk in Asia, except there was no noise, and no pollution. My driver Jesse, Vice President of Arcimoto, sped up quite a bit during our brief ride down El Camino Real and Page Mill Road. At around 50mph, the noisiest, messiest part of the experience was the wind blowing in my face. I always loved taking tuktuks during the prolonged periods of time i spent in india and the Phillipines, despite having to wipe some grease from the exhausted gases off of my face after a long tuk tuk ride. Being chauffeured around in the backseat of the Arcimoto is like being in a TukTuk 5.0 – fresh wind, higher speeds (it feels pretty fast when you’re at 50mph an hour in the backseat), more security. In short, the back seat experience pretty awesome.

The front seat experience:
I don’t currently own a car, for both personal and environmental reasons and hadn’t driven any vehicles for quite a while, so I felt a bit anxious at first about driving and mostly stuck to practicing loops around a spacious parking lot. I really love scooters, especially electric scooters and had contemplated getting an electric scooter. After this, I would probably opt for an Arcimoto instead. The navigation in the Arcimoto is the same as in a scooter or a motorcycle (no gears). It’s incredibly easy to speed up and steer. The whole vehicle sort of moves WITH you. You have to turn the handlebar in order to turn the Arcimoto – if you’re only used to driving cars with a regular steering wheel that might take a bit of time to get used to. If you love riding scooters or motorbikes, then steering on the Arcimoto should be a breeze! Driving in the Arcimoto definitely felt more relaxed, and safe, than being on an electric scooter (no need to keep my balance as I go into a curve) – but much more fun than being in an enclosed, regular-size car. The electric vehicle effect might take some getting used to – when you take your foot off the gas, the vehicle just stops. Overall… I really, really loved it! I loved having the open side doors. It’s like driving/riding in a mini-sized car/motorbike/scooter hybrid. It’s amazing.

The experience of being in an Arcimoto doesn’t compare to being in any other electric vehicle to me. I’ve been in every type of the Tesla, ridden electric scooters, bikes, one-wheels… This is different. And in my view, it’s better. While I don’t think that Arcimotos would replace ALL cars, I definitely believe, they could, functionally, replace A LOT OF THE CARS that are currently out there. Aside from the fact that the energy demands of an Arcimoto are at <30% of the average Tesla, according to their CEO, the Arcimoto takes up only about half of each lane. If Arcimotos became mainstream, that would open up an incredible opportunity to decrease commuter traffic by offering special mini-lanes for these vehicles. They do have their limitations though. With an 80-120 mile travel range, they are not very feasible for long drives or road trips.

Overall, I’m giving the Arcimoto a 9/10 rating. (I’m reserving the 10 exclusively for electric passenger drones.) It’s an awesome vehicle.

You can find out more about the Arcimoto on arcimoto.com/