NewCo is blowing out all the stops for our fifth annual Bay Area Festival! Not only are we running the event concurrent with our first executive forum, we have added a day of “masterclasses” where attendees can learn directly from the brightest business leaders in Silicon Valley. We also have three full days of sessions where attendees will get to go inside the most innovative companies in the Valley to learn how they are changing the world. For the first time ever, our event is showcasing companies from all over the Bay Area. Without further ado, here are my recommendations for sessions to check out:
Monday, February 6 — Masterclasses at the St. Regis in San Francisco
Adobe’s lead product designer, Talin Wadsworth, is leading the session. I recently had a friend who is senior marketer at a major brand tell me he was going to have his customer experience agency make his Super Bowl spot. Professionals who understand and design for the end to end experience are taking over — in products and beyond. This is a chance to learn from one of the best.
You cannot go wrong in this session. My colleague from Pinterest, Scott Tong, is leading a session about how to brainstorm for Design which will be awesome. Getting a fresh take on email marketing from The Hustle will also be worthwhile. But I’m going with the Founders Circle session because I consider the presenter, Chris Albinson, a personal mentor. Unlike most VCs, Chris is perfectly willing to share how he successfully parses the start up landscape. I’ve used his philosophy to guide my own career choices.
Not only do I LOVE Hint water, I am enamored with Kara Goldin’s professional journey. Kara is Hint’s CEO and she is the session presenter. Before founding Hint, Kara was an early Exec at AOL. She has now crossed over to the CPG space and has a runaway hit on her hands by providing a healthier and tastier alternative to Soda.
All of us in the innovation economy have been on both sides of this topic at one point or the other. We’ve all experiences when things are on fire and you are looking to hire but are struggling with the pressure to just get anyone in vs. holding out for the perfect candidate. And on the flip side, we’ve all been looking for that perfect gig. Hired’s CEO Mehul Patel will share his provocative take on how to navigate those challenges.
Another timeslot where you cannot go wrong. Jeff Clavier at Softtech VC is a lengendary Angel in Silicon Valley and another rare breed who is open and generous with his advice. And as the spouse of restaurant owner, the opportunity to learn about customer experience through restaurant design sounds fascinating. I just think everything about Betabrand’s retail model is fascinating. Any chance to learn more about that company gets my vote.
Tuesday February 7 — Oakland
9:30 AM: ICA Fund Good Jobs
The knock on the innovation economy is that it creates wealth and not employment. This organization is looking to foster innovative business ideas that do both.
11:00 AM: Natel Energy
The nerdy white board sessions at NewCo Festivals are nice but getting the chance to check out innovation in hydro energy machinery inside a former Naval Air Hangar? I’m in!!!!!
1:30 PM: Kapor Center for Social Impact
Lots of good choices in this slot but no trip to Oak-town would be complete without spending some time thinking about social justice. Mitch Kapor is one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley and I’m curious to learn more about how his organization is driving meaningful change in our communities.
3:00 PM: Imperfect Foods
While working at Walmart I got some insight into how the aesthetics of food impact food waste. It is one of those surprisingly mega issues that you never realize until it gets explained.
The CIR is led by legendary newsman Phil Bronstein. More than ever, we need to hold the powerful accountable with truthful analysis. Yet the business model of news organizations is broken. I suspect these guys have a POV on what to do about it.
Wednesday, February 8 — San Francisco
9:30 AM: Metromile
I love NewCo sessions where an insurgent is trying to reinvent a well-established industry. Metromile claims to be doing just that for the auto insurance industry.
11:00 AM: Compass Family Services
Everytime you think the homeless problem can’t get worse in the Bay Area you see something on the streets that just blows your mind. This is a chance to go inside an actual homeless shelter and learn from people on the front lines of the crisis.
1:30 PM: AltX
Visiting AltX offers the chance to learn how a new generation of quants are harnessing data to make smarter decisions about transactions in the financial industry. There are some big draws during this time slot with Slack and Casper. Honorable mention to Shippo who is innovating in ecommerce fufillment. You can’t go wrong.
3:00 PM: ReadWrite Labs
Another great time slot where you can’t go wrong. You could check out a well-known NewCo like Yelp or Reddit. Or hear dynamic presenters like Mark Dwight at Rickshaw Bags or Mark Silva at Kite — both of whom were instrumental in getting NewCo off the ground in its early days. I’m going to check out ReadWrite Labs to get their take on the future of IoT.
4:30 PM: Nerdwallet
These guys have been plugging away for a few years but for some reason have exploded on to my radar in the past year. I’d like to learn what is going on with their business.
Thursday February 9
9:30 AM: Volta Charging
I went electric last year and will never go back. But finding a charge outside of my defined commute routine is a crap shoot. I’m curious to learn how this company is solving that problem.
11:00 AM: Walmart.com and Jet.com
I’ve got to recommend my old colleagues at Walmart. People always used to ask me how to get in the door at Walmart. Here is one way. Seth Beal is a great presenter and there is lots of news happening inside Walmart’s ecommerce division. This is a good opportunity for an update and a chance to make some new contacts.
12:30 AM: Adobe Festival Lunch
This is a great chance to check out Adobe’s campus, eat a complimentary box lunch, and network with other Festival attendees. Thank you Adobe!
While you are there, stick around for their “Future of Work Think Tank” at 1:15 featuring the mayor of San Jose.
3:00 PM: Quri
Quri was one of the pioneers in the gig economy. They send in teams to do in-store marketing and analytics for CPG companies.
4:30 PM: LiveRamp
LiveRamp arguably invented the practice of making digital data sets portable and combinable. This is a chance to get a good update on where the company is going now that they have settled in as a division of Acxiom.
A great chance to network at the end of the day and learn about breaking the cycle of poverty by providing access to the banking system.
While I hope these helpful recommendations some of the best experiences at a NewCo festival are when you play schedule roulette and check out some random company of which you’ve never heard. Even if you can only clear half a day, it is worth it. I hope to see you out there!