IO2020: the New Innovators’ Summit connects entrepreneurial community (and tickets are free this year)

Great ideas start with curiosity. Bringing those ideas to life is its own challenge.  That’s what longtime entrepreneur Brian Ardinger believes, and that’s why he’s made it his mission to help Nebraska startup founders, business leaders and innovators solve those challenges.  Ardinger is cofounder of InsideOutside.io, an innovation-focused resource network for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, enterprises,…

Photo courtesy of InsideOutside.io
Photo courtesy of InsideOutside.io

Great ideas start with curiosity. Bringing those ideas to life is its own challenge. 

That’s what longtime entrepreneur Brian Ardinger believes, and that’s why he’s made it his mission to help Nebraska startup founders, business leaders and innovators solve those challenges. 

Ardinger is cofounder of InsideOutside.io, an innovation-focused resource network for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, enterprises, mentors, customers and peers that includes a podcast, a newsletter and the IO Summit, an annual conference traditionally held in Lincoln. 

This year, for obvious reasons, the IO Summit is going virtual.

IO2020: the New Innovators’ Summit takes place Oct. 20-22 on the Run the World virtual event platform. In addition to an all-star speaker lineup and roulette-style networking opportunities, the summit includes a startup pitch competition in which local entrepreneurs will compete for over $50,000 in funding and services to bring their ideas to a new level. 

Thanks to the new virtual format, IO2020 has been able to cut many of the costs of an in-person even. This has allowed InsideOutside.io to book established industry leaders and companies from all over the world and to offer free tickets for general admission.  

“It’s always difficult to get world class speakers to come to Lincoln for three days,” Ardinger said. “This opens up (the conference) to a larger audience, both from the speaker side and for startups and investors who can participate from wherever they’re at.”

Brian Ardinger, cofounder of InsideOutside.io

The summit will take place through Run the World, which provides opportunities for networking in addition to attendance at the virtual presentations. Run the World’s CEO and founder, Xiaoyin Qu, will be among the many industry speakers presenting at this year’s summit.

Qu, a writer and musician, ran music and influencer programs at Facebook before launching Run the World, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Also slated to speak at this year’s summit are entrepreneurs focusing on diversity and inclusion in their work. 

Rika Nakazawa, the CEO and Founder of BoardSeatMeet, Inc. will give a presentation Thursday, Oct. 20, titled “Towards a New Resilience: Why Boardrooms Must Be and Should Be Diverse, Now More Than Ever.” BroadSeatMeet focuses on diversifying the board room by empowering women to build and leverage social capital with modern technology. 

As with previous IO Summits, the Lincoln business community has embraced IO2020 as an important forum for local entrepreneurship.

“(The IO Summit) has always been a really valuable event for our city, whether in person or virtual this year,” said Christina Oldfather, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. 

“It is great for a lot of people—corporations, entrepreneurs, people interested in innovation to come together and have an opportunity to collide and hear from some really great speakers,” she added.

Oldfather praised the tangible benefits IO2020 offers founders and aspiring founders alike, who have the chance to be connected to the LPED’s LaunchLNK Program, which gives funding, resources and other opportunities to help Lincoln-based startups launch and grow.

Entrepreneurs are not the conference’s only target audience. IO2020 is great for both the “tucked” and the “untucked,” as Ardinger jokingly refers to investors and startup founders, respectively.

“Startups often have a tough time finding customers and getting investors, and corporates have a tough time staying up-to-date on the latest technologies, and pivoting and adapting to the changing world,” Ardinger said. “The pace of change is accelerating such that everybody’s going to have to be a little bit more adaptive, a little bit more resilient.”

The accelerating pace of change and the attendant need for innovation are some of the main reasons Ardinger, who also works as director of innovation at Nelnet, cofounded InsideOutside.io five years ago. Ardinger and team also wanted to give Midwesterners an inside look at startups outside Silicon Valley. 

Initially begun as a podcast hosted by Ardinger, InsideOutside.io has since expanded to providing startup consulting and hosting the IO Summit, now in its fourth year.

Can’t make the conference but still want some quick-and-dirty innovation tips?

Ardinger said all innovative and revolutionary ideas start with curiosity, and end with collaboration. 

“You need that mindset of looking for ways that customers are using products and services,” he said. “Look for ways, even outside your industry, to see how things are evolving. Look at different business models, (and be) curious about new technologies.” 

Tickets to IO2020 can be procured via the IO Summit website or directly from Run the World.

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