Speakers at #Boom conference seek to kindle entrepreneurial fire

Friday, January 25, 2013 | 8:13 p.m. CST; updated 11:12 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — Inspired by the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki, Arel Moodie propelled himself from living on welfare in the Brooklyn projects to becoming a successful Internet entrepreneur.

Moodie was one of 10 presenters at the #BOOM Entrepreneurial Event that took place at MU’s Reynolds Alumni Center on Friday. The presenters sought to kindle the entrepreneurial fire of a diverse audience of college students and professionals who attended the day-long event.

Columbia's Regional Economic Development, Inc. was involved in putting together a task force of 20 people who planned the event. They looked for ways to incorporate technology and social media. Some of the speakers presented via Skype and a Google Hangout. Organizers also set up a virtual chat room to allow an international audience to participate in the conference by sending questions via Twitter.

Sean Siebert, the chairman of the event, said that REDI had in the past two years organized traditional conferences and this year wanted to premier a different type catering to social media enthusiasts.

“Columbia has all sorts of entrepreneurs, and this year we wanted to focus on social-era entrepreneurs,” he said. “REDI is growing an economic garden and we want to immerse people – both young and old — into the culture of innovated entrepreneurship.”

Sarah Hill, who is a digital storyteller and Google Plus strategist for Veterans United, moderated the event.

Speakers included Moodie, Thom Ruhe, the vice president of entrepreneurship at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Brynne and Bailye Stansberry, the co-founders of TwoAlity, among others.

Moodie, who is the bestselling author of "Your Starting Point for Student Success" started his first Internet company while in college. He encouraged college students to apply their education and follow their interests.

Bailye and Brynne Stansberry, both 22, who are also known as the “boot girls” of Moberly, are twins who reluctantly decided to forgo a trip to Europe to navigate an 18-month patent process. In the end, they designed clear boots with interchangeable liners. At the conference, they shared their experiences, including challenges like dealing with stubborn manufacturers, overcoming an age barrier and acquiring capital for their company.

“The speakers have been fantastic and it’s our hope that the people have been inspired,” Siebert said. “In the future, we intend to expose entrepreneurs to the resources that are available in the community.”

REDI’s annual “Idea Bounce” competition will take place in April and entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring their ideas forward, Siebert said.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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