When the Mayor of Austin declared a disaster in the city on March 6, 2020 in response to the threat of COVID-19, the decree immediately suspended all major public events. Tech Ranch® was ready and prepared for it. The management team switched to its backup ‘Plan B’ for a ‘virtual’ Impact Innovation Forum (IIF) 2020.
IIF 2020 was the fourth conference in its history. Normally held at a prestigious venue in downtown Austin, the mayor’s declaration of a disaster in the city made a physical event impossible. The organizing team at Tech Ranch® changed the format so that IIF could proceed as a virtual online-only conference.
Kristin Ginter, program manager of Venture Outfitter by Tech Ranch® said: “We had just a week to reconfigure everything. We addressed the technical challenges, and the contributors responded magnificently. “The show must go on,” as they say, and go on it did. I am very proud of how successfully it worked out.”
On March 14, some 1,300 viewers watched IIF 2020 via a live webcast aired on Facebook and YouTube. They heard 20 startup founders and 5 subject matter experts from 6 different countries discuss how they are using technology to solve human problems.
Kevin Koym, founder and CEO of Tech Ranch®, who compèred the event, said: “We call the fact of using technology to solve human problems ‘impact innovation’. The Forum is a platform where we bring the world’s attention to the truly great work being done in this space by entrepreneurs. I know most of the presenters personally from conferences and trainings I have led. In the last six months alone, I have been to Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Russia, as well as Mexico and Oklahoma. Tech Ranch® is all about building communities of entrepreneurs and connecting them with virtual bridges.”
Viewers were able to watch leaders of companies from Golden, Colorado to Tyumen, Siberia, and Austin, Texas to Aja, Nigeria talk about a wide range of solutions being developed, as well as hear about their personal journeys as entrepreneurs. They included:
- David Rodriguez, CEO, 3D Thea (https://www.3dthea.co/) in Mexico;
- David Potes, CEO, Apolo Health (https://www.apolohs.com/) in Mexico;
- Daniel Fosado, CEO, Biokaab (http://biokaab.com.mx/) in Laredo, Mexico;
- Lamarque Polvado, CEO, CareStarter (https://carestarter.co/) in Austin, Texas;
- Alexander Deeb, CEO, ClassHook (https://www.classhook.com) in Brooklyn, New York;
- Jorge Lopez, CEO, Eosis (https://www.eosis.energy) in Mexico;
- John Higley, CEO, EQO, Inc. (https://www.eqo.life/) in Austin, Texas;
- Matt Jonson, CEO and co-founder, Gunnisystems, Inc. (https://gunnisystems.com/), in Golden, Colorado;
- Dr Emmanuel Egbroko, CEO, Innocul8 (https://inocul8.com.ng/) in Nigeria;
- Kim Johnson, CMO, Managed Health Connections (http://managedhealthconnections.com/mesmerize/) in Spokane, Washington;
- Dr. Andrew Nerlinger, PandemicTech, LLC. (https://www.pandemictech.com) in Austin, Texas;
- Allessio Capitanelli, System Architech, Teseo (https://www.teseo.tech) in Italy;
- Luk Pstrong, CEO, Therapify (https://therapify.ai/) in Poland;
- Svetlana Morozova, Founder and CEO, Venul in Russia;
- Igor Kurlykov, CEO, WideCS (https://cardiohelp.me/) in Russia.
Important was the discussion on work by entrepreneurs to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Andrew Nerlinger, PandemicTech, recently launched the ‘PandemicTech Innovation Fellowship 2020’, a $100,000 global health security initiative to identify and support the innovators leading the fight against pandemic infectious disease threats, which is now prioritizing COVID-19. When a vaccine is finally available, Dr Emmanuel Egbroko explained how Innocul8 will be able to deliver it across difficult to reach populations in Africa using techniques he developed.
Kevin Koym said: “Entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to bring their expertise, innovative ideas and flexibility to the COVID-19 crisis. They can quickly form collaborations with other entrepreneurs working in adjacent spaces or adapt an existing proven approach to a new challenge, to swarm an issue from different directions.”
IIF 2020 helped one business leader who had already landed in Texas but found the event he had come for had been cancelled. Lindsay Powell, chief marketing officer (CMO) of Tech Ranch® said: “When I read a report in the local Press that Alexander Deeb of ClassHook had already arrived in Austin for SXSW and now had no platform to present his educator solution, I reached out to him over social media and invited him to take part in IIF. I was delighted when he accepted. At Tech Ranch® we’re all about making connections.”
Alexander Deeb, CEO of Brooklyn, New York-based ClassHook, said: “The approach from Lindsay was quite unexpected, and I was very happy to take Tech Ranch® up on its offer. I am passionate about creating positive social impact for children at school by helping educators access TV shows and movies that contain scenes that discuss topics such as Science, Math, Art, Music, and more. I was pleased to get our story out to a global audience.”
Also taking part were participants supporting international entrepreneurship, including:
- Jaret Martin, CEO, StarSpace46 (https://www.starspace46.com), working with Tech Ranch® to replicate in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma the success of Austin as a startup ecosystem for entrepreneurship;
- Antonio Rios, Director of Entrepreneurship, Tecnológico de Monterrey, (https://tec.mx/es), working with Tech Ranch® on building a global bridge between Nuevo León and USA.
IIF 2020 was sponsored by:
- Arc Capital (https://www.arccapitalusa.com);
- DiTa, Inc. (https://www.ditainc.com);
- EFM Capital (https://efmcapital.com/en/);
- Eurasia Foundation (https://www.eurasia.org);
- Inter-American Education Consortium (IEAC) (http://interamec.org);
- Juice Consulting (http://juiceconsulting.com);
- World Affairs Council of Austin (https://wacaustin.org).
A recording of the complete IIF 2020 conference can be viewed on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR7TvtHBZvM