Many already had put their idea to work in the field and now were looking for ways to “scale up” and help more people. “They’re not Bono,” says Zolli, referring to the U2 musician turned social activist. “They’re not the most famous people. They represent the next generation of people.”
These young innovators took part in a four-day “boot camp” before the conference with a faculty of experts. Later each innovator gave a five-minute “pitch” to the 600 or so people who paid thousands of dollars each to attend the event – an audience that includes executives from the worlds of venture capital and technology. The pitches will live on at the PopTech.org website, where videos of conference speakers attract thousands of viewers.
The young social innovators made remarkable progress during the boot camp, says faculty member Cheryl Heller, CEO of Heller Communication Design in New York. She advised the group on how to create an effective brand. With today’s economy uncertain, creating an effective pitch becomes even more important. “An entrepreneur’s ability to quickly explain what it is they’re doing and why it’s important is priceless,” she says.