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Start conference day 1 Recap


Start conference day 1 Recap

Yesterday we kicked off the Start Conference 2015, the first ever conference dedicated to our passions. Over 350 inspired individuals, from 12 cities, 5 countries, showed up to ignite their passions.

The conference’s clear messages were the importance of community, asking for what you need and ACTION. At the center of it all was Jessica Semaan, kicking off the event with a dance party. With her contagious energy and electric passion, she lead the participants through The Passion Co. method to connect with their passions, and design a passion project. Additionally, participants were grouped in tribes, that provide support, and foster connections.

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Throughout the day, speakers from different industries dove into the struggle of beginning and the importance of community in the process of creating. Omid Scheybani, a photographer and storyteller shared how he went from a first Instagram picture with only one like to his now 26.5k followers, in less than a year. Adam Smiley Poswolsky, author at Penguin Random House, recalled the rejection after rejection he got with his first book. Kara Goldin gave credit to the executive at Coke who told her that Hint, a locally founded water company she started, wasn’t what Americans wanted.

Ankit Shah, founder & CEO of Tea with Strangers, spoke about the transformation bringing strangers together has made on him and his community. His company now is in cities all around the world.

Alyssa Ravasio described borrowing confidence from Steve Huffman, founder and CEO of Reddit, who asked her if what she wants to build is a problem she wants to solve for herself. When she said yes, he said do it. during her journey in creating Hipcamp, the first platform to find campsites.


Another story that stood out was when Dijon Bowden shared how his mother flew out to San Francisco to pull him out of depression and reignite his passion project, Souls of Society – a project lifting the souls of others one picture at a time.

In between speakers were more dance parties, delicious snack breaks from local food companies: Thistle, Poco Dolce, Chump Chai, Philz Coffee and many more.

Crew members were going around taking polaroid photos of participants.

The day the day with a pop up gallery cocktail party, in partnership with Vango, the app to find art featuring San Francisco based artist, Dyanna Dimick.

Some of our favorite day quotes from the day

“By not starting, you’re doing the world a disservice” – Nate Bagley, founder of The Loveumentary

“The road isn’t always clear and mapped out perfectly when you follow your passion,” Nikhil Arora, Back to the roots

“Borrow inspiration from your favorite brands” William Werner, Craftsman & Wolves   

“Experiences with the people you love is the ultimate key to life.” – Khaled Hussein, Tilt co-founder and CTO

“Action over perfection” - Jessica Semaan, The Passion Co.

“Rejection is a numbers’ game” - Jia Jiang, Fearbuster

“Find your gift, and give it away.” - Chip Conley, Airbnb

“It only takes one.” On how ONE artist introduced Vango, founded by Ethan Appleby, to their next hundred artists.

“We need to tap into our courage and intuition, not our minds” Pat Bailey, Founder of PB Yoga

“Choose one thing and take action on it.” – Mark Dwight, CEO and founder of Rickshaw Bagworks

“F’ your inner critic” - Adam Smiley Poswolsky

Join us for our closing brunch party Sunday by getting your ticket here


Announcing Start Conference Final Schedule


Announcing Start Conference Final Schedule

We are so excited to announce the final schedule for the first Start conference. We designed the weekend, with the purpose of reinventing what a conference means. Instead of networking, we designed for connection. Instead of sitting, we designed for movement. Instead of focusing on speakers, we chose to focus on you. Over the weekend we commit to:

  • Making you feel at home and safe to try and play
  • Making you feel a part of a village and inspired by others
  • Making you realize your power and potential

On day 1, you will hear from over 30 speakers about their personal stories of starting. Start talks are up to 10 minutes talk, that will keep you engaged, and focused on the early phase of a company or a project including stories of failure, luck and hard work.

Throughout the day, our founder Jessica Semaan, will lead you through exercises from the flagship Passion program, to connect with your passions, your meaning and pick your passion project goal for the weekend. If you want to go deeper you can attend the one hour Find Your Passion workshop in the afternoon. You can also attend one of the panels: Successful mompreneurs, or launching a successful Kickstarter.

In partnership with Vango, we will ending the day with a pop-up gallery and cocktails on the panoramic third floor, at Sunset time.

On day 2, We have curated over 30 workshops, with some of the best instructors, with topics ranging from rejections, to pricing to watercolor. You can attend up to 3 workshops, or simply work on your passion project. This is also a time to discover the burgeoning neighborhood over lunch with new friends. At the end of the day, we recommend you hang out with your tribe, maybe go dancing, or if you will be pitching at The Passion Project Awards, prepare for that.

On day 3, you will reconvene in the morning to have a closing circle with your tribe and reflect on what you have accomplished over the weekend. Then you will join the fun of The Passion Project Awards, where 9 contestants will pitch their projects with the chance to win up to $3000 in gifts and cash. The conference will close with a boozy brunch, prepared by head Airbnb chef, Anisha Jagtap, and the tunes of London based DJ Chvck.

You can find all the workshop details here, and be sure to get your tickets as they are selling out.