From time-to-time I hear local people push back on the idea of a new event or program launching in our community if it started elsewhere. The general concern is that by adding this to our local programming we’re giving in to a “me, too” complacency rather than taking on the tough task of designing something original and specific to our community. While I understand where that concern comes from I just never bought it. A few weeks ago, I realized the reason why.
One of the trickiest and most time-consuming aspects of producing these conferences is assembling the speaker slate. All of the conferences that I’ve worked on have emphasized recruiting speakers from outside the host community, but inevitably a question like “if this is Big Omaha why aren’t there any Omaha founders speaking?” comes up. It’s a logical question and there are several answers. Here’s my take on why it’s important to invite speakers from other cities to speak at local startup conferences.