When registering for RootsTech last year, I tried to find more information about Innovator Summit to know if it was for me. After finding only one blog post about it, I decided that my interest in entrepreneurship and technology was reason enough to attend. I have always admired friends and family members who start their own businesses. I respect their courage, inspirational work ethic, and determination. I love to watch ABC’s Shark Tank and learn about people who put their all into a business often started in their garage.
Looking for the RootsTech Pass Giveaway Contest instructions? Scroll to the bottom of this post.
I listen to the Smart Passive Income podcast by Pat Flynn, whose motto is to make the web a better place with helpful content and earn income online, ethically. I am inspired by Pat Flynn, a devoted dad and incredible entrepreneur who likes to help others become successful entrepreneurs too. In fact, he’s one of the reasons I started this website, as I mentioned in my geneabloggers interview.
My love for entrepreneurship intersects with my passion for genealogy and the perfect event for all this excitement is the RootsTech Innovator Summit. It’s here that people who are passionate about genealogy and technology gather, discuss new ideas, and network. I’ll share some of my experiences from the RootsTech 2016 Innovator Summit in hopes that it will help you know if you want to attend.
I arrived at the Salt Palace on a cold Wednesday morning. I was lucky enough to sit next to Laurie Conklin of Sharing the Past. It was a delight to meet her and exchange twitter handles. In fact, I would not have enjoyed the conference quite as much if I hadn’t checked out all the relevant tweets and contributed my own. If you can’t attend RootsTech in person, be sure to check out all the #RootsTech tweets when the conference is underway.
The keynote speakers at the Innovator Summit general session were Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, and Ken Krogue, founder and president of InsideSales. Rockwood inspired entrepreneurs to look at the family history tech industry inside out and upside down. He encouraged us to bring fresh ideas that will increase the positive emotions felt as people engage in family history. He focused on engaging millennials by exporting the emotion, skills and results of genealogists to the rest of the world with applications for people of all ages. He gave a shout out to the Little Family Tree app, created by Melissa Finlay and her husband John. I’m lucky to be speaking at RootsTech 2017 with Melissa about inspiring children to be genealogists (more about that here).
Ken Krogue, a social sales expert, spoke about growing a business from “startup to unicorn.” Among several ideas, he shared research from an article at Business 2 Community Magazine which compared high growth companies to normal growth companies. The study found that 62% of high growth companies used online lead generation as their main methodology (compared to only 12% of the normal growth companies), and these high growth companies grew 15x faster. The study asked which medias were most important in online lead generation (a consumer becoming interested in a product or service), and the top media was blogging! Krogue said, “Don’t think the word blog, think the word newspaper or magazine. It’s a digital magazine for you. Your voice can be heard around the world if you blog.”
Next, I had to decide which of three sessions to attend. At Innovator Summit, there are two categories: IS Business and IS Developer. Since I am not a developer, I chose one of the two business options: “Partner Town Hall with FamilySearch Executives.” As a FamilySearch user, I was interested in this question and answer session. I’m consistently impressed with the innovations coming from FamilySearch! Some of the answers mentioned integration with ancestry, partnering with local genealogical societies to preserve records, a record capture kit, protecting the integrity of a wiki tree, rating conclusions, digitization of microfilm and training for indexing in foreign languages.
The next hour offered two IS Developer classes and one IS business class, so I went to that: “DIY Small Business Guerilla marketing Strategies” with Alison Dolan, Lisa Louise Cooke, and Jenna Mills. These three successful genealogy entrepreneurs gave helpful ideas like how to market with little time, content marketing with content themes, and creating keyword-rich mobile-friendly blogs.
Next I went to another IS Business class by Tammy Hepps, “Get Your Startup Taken Seriously by a Big Company.” She talked about making strategic partnerships with large companies by being prepared, showing you have been vetted by others, winning contests like the RootsTech Innovator Showdown, and understanding the company’s existing partnerships.
Next in the schedule was the Innovator Showdown Semifinal round and lunch. I grabbed a boxed lunch and found a seat to for the Shark Tank style event. Twelve developers shared their ideas to the panel of judges. It was fascinating to see each presenter give their spiel as quickly as possible. Some didn’t finish in time. Some got pretty tough questions from the judges.
My favorite class of the day was given by a family friend, John Richards. His subject was “Entrepreneurship: Validation Precedes the Money.” The old model of business planning is out – it is too costly and time consuming. The new entrepreneurship model is learning-based and focuses on minimizing time through a learning loop. Lower amounts of money are required and more value is created by talking with consumers first, finding out what they need, and building that. Richards suggested that the class read several books, including Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation, Steve Blank’s The Startup Owner’s Manual, and Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup.
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After the class, several of us gathered around John to ask him our burning questions. “What if I share my idea with a potential partner and they steal it?!” “What should I do if I don’t know any developers but I have a really great idea?” (He said not to hire a developer but find an developer willing to be an equity partner). After talking to him, we discussed among ourselves. We shared some of our ideas with each other and felt camaraderie as a group of potential entrepreneurs.
I went home that evening and ordered The Startup Owner’s Manual and read it on the airplane home. It’s a fascinating book with many case studies. Every entrepreneur should read it. I was so inspired that I started creating my own business model and minimum viable product for one of my family history technology ideas.
Next I attended an IS Developer class: “Mission Impossible 2: Tough Challenges, Which Need Automated Solutions.” Although I was not familiar with the technological vernacular, I was fascinated by the challenges presented and the roadblocks to solutions. The data required to solve the impossible mission, pre-1850 census data harmonization, is not easily accessible by developers. It seemed a big discouragement to the developers there. This may answer the question why so many of the recent genealogy innovations focus not on genealogical analysis tools but photo and story preservation.
Lastly, I attended the Innovator Summit networking social. I was so inspired during the day that I was hoping to meet some potential business partners. I didn’t find any, but did receive some helpful recommendations while enjoying delicious appetizers. I caught up with a few developers I worked with at FamilySearch when I was an administrative assistant in 2008-2009. I met Diane Loosle, senior vice president of patron services at FamilySearch, and several other FamilySearch employees I hadn’t met before. It was an exceptional day and I’m looking forward to next time.
Do you multiply or diminish intelligence? Liz Wiseman, a leadership strategist, best-selling author, and inspiring speaker whose recent clients include Disney, Microsoft, eBay and PayPal, Google, and Facebook, is excited to share highlights of what she has learned as the keynote speaker for the 2017 Innovator Summit at RootsTech. Innovator Summit is a one-day event for developers, entrepreneurs, and innovators who want to explore business and technological opportunities in the multibillion dollar family history industry. The Innovator Summit will be held on February 8, 2017 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Liz Wiseman teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. She is the founder and president of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. She has been listed on the biennial Thinkers50 ranking for 2013 and 2015 and named one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world.
Wiseman is the author of three best-selling books: Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work; Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter; and The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.
Tapping into others’ native genius and helping them reach their full potential is something every parent wants to do for their children. I am looking forward to hearing Wiseman’s talk in February and wonder if she will discuss family history along with her leadership advice. Multiplying the collective family intelligence for solving family history and preservation problems could be a pertinent subject.
At Innovator Summit next year, four tracks will be available instead of just two: Entrepreneur, Marketing, Development, and Start-up Funding. John Richards will be back again, speaking about “Venture Ownership and Capitalization Tables,” and Tammy Hepps is lined up to talk about “The Minimum Viable Product for Genealogy Startups.” You can view other class sessions for Innovator Summit here: RootsTech 2017 Schedule.
So have you decided whether or not to attend Innovator Summit? Last year, I thought I would be most interested in the advanced methodology classes about how improving genealogical research. I was wrong – I liked the Innovator Summit sessions more.
If you are interested in attending any part of the conference, please enter my contest to win a free RootsTech plus Innovator Summit 2017 pass (instructions below).
The 4-day pass includes the following:
- Innovator Summit
- over 200 classes
- General sessions
- RootsTech classes
- Getting Started classes
- Expo hall
- Evening events
Contest Instructions (Giveaway Closed)
The RootsTech plus Innovator Summit 2017 pass includes 4 days and is valued at $299. The contest begins today and ends on November 29 at 11:59PM MST. One lucky winner will be notified by email after the contest closes. If you win and have already purchased a RootsTech pass, you will receive a refund.
To enter, write in the comments your answer to one of these questions:
- What app, technology, product or service do you wish for in the family history and genealogy world?
- What genealogy problem would you like to see solved by technology?
- What is your favorite software, app, or tech tool for genealogy?
Share this contest with developers, entrepreneurs, or anyone who might want to get in on this multi-billion dollar industry.
Disclosure: As a RootsTech ambassador, I received free registration for the conference in order to promote the event through blog posts and on social media. Last year, I was not an ambassador and I loved it! I’m happy to be promoting the event.