UT hosting digital media conference for startups May 10Written by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 10, the University of Toledo will host a first-time venture, the uHeart Digital Media Conference, which will focus on using social media to create digital brands for young entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
The uHeart Digital Media Conference will feature emerging leaders, accomplished practitioners, innovators and experts in digital media, according to organizers.
The event is open to students, local entrepreneurs and startups who want to learn how to develop and launch applications that appeal to niche markets for their brands and products.
“We have put together a lineup of speakers that would rival any digital media conference. This will prove to be a major event for leaders in digital media and entrepreneurs across the region,” said Lawrence Burns, vice president for external affairs at UT, in a news release.
Dave Hunke, former president and publisher of USA Today and now chief strategy officer at Digerati, is slated to present the keynote address. His presentation will focus on how he and his team at USA Today helped transform the brand of one of the nation’s most popular newspapers from a print publication to a digital giant.
Ben Bator of the website Texts from Last Night is also scheduled to speak at the conference, along with Matt Burns of TechCrunch, Mike Brott of The Brandery, Anthony Broad Crawford of GiveForward, Jim Connolly of McGraw-Hill and Fulter Hong of Google.
Local speakers include Dustin Hostetler of Digital Graphics, Joe Sharp of Thread Marketing Group, Will Lucas, creator of Classana, and Hayley Call, social media specialist for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The conference will conclude with the uHeart Pitch & Pour after-party for conference attendees in the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex at UT. New incubator facilities are being developed at that complex, according to organizers of that event.
Participating startups will present their ideas to judges for the chance to win funding and other prizes.
“The Pitch & Pour event will highlight support systems available to entrepreneurs through UT’s Edison Technology Incubation Program. It’s a great opportunity to illustrate Toledo’s resources for tech startups,” said Scott McIntyre, manager of business incubation at UT and one of the organizers of the event.
“Toledo’s assets are under-recognized. We have judges from across the nation and applicants from three states coming to Toledo for this,” he said.
McIntyre was named manager of business incubation for UT in early April. He will administer the incubation program in partnership with UT and the State of Ohio’s Edison Technology Program. An Edison grant was obtained for developing startups and creating job growth in Northwest Ohio through the program at UT.
McIntyre reported that they currently have 19 clients located in UT incubator facilities and the conference is another step toward getting new clients and helping move Toledo forward. He negotiated an agreement with UT Innovation Enterprises for CrowdSchools.org, his education startup, to serve as a pilot in UT’s Ambassador Internship program. UT was asked to join because of its progressive stance on student entrepreneurship development, McIntyre said.
Mary Jo Waldock, senior executive director of the Office of Research and Innovation at UT, said CrowdSchools.org is “relevant for entrepreneurially-minded students who will benefit greatly by learning the ropes before entering the market.”
McIntyre, who came to UT with 20 years of entrepreneurial and business consulting experience, is considered a leader in the rapidly growing crowd-funding industry.
Crowd-funding involves garnering small amounts of capital from a large number of investors to finance a business venture.
Crowd-funding has the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors from whom funds can be raised beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives and venture capitalists. It uses the easy accessibility of vast networks of family, friends and colleagues through social media websites to get the word out about new business ventures and attract investors.
Ideas for tech products and service startups were solicited and submissions were reviewed April 26. Event organizers said they are accepting submissions on an ongoing basis at www.pitchandpour.com.
Organizers said the Pitch & Pour event is the first of a series planned at UT. To register for the May 10 event, visit www.uHeartDigitalMedia.com.
Organizers expect to draw from 100-150 tech-related entrepreneurs and startup businesspeople from Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10 in the Ingman Room of UT’s Student Union. Registration is $20 for students and $50 for nonstudents.