Anyone who has an idea or a project underway can come plant seeds for its growth at this free five-day festival, which is an energetic celebration of all things innovative.
While technology and the other sciences are naturally a big part of that, One Spark not only indulges attendees and travelers but also welcomes entrepreneurs, or "Creators" as they're called here, with aspirations in a variety of other realms, including the arts, education and the overall social good.
This festival was conceived in 2013 after Elton Rivas read and got inspired by the book titled, Startup Communities, which was written by Brad Feld. More than 100,000 people showed up. In 2014, attendance jumped to 260,000.
It's all very exciting for anyone involved in startups or investing, especially those who don't live near venture capital hubs like San Francisco. Rivas's impetus for using the River City as the backdrop for his lively event was simply that he preferred to feed the startup culture in his own backyard rather than relocating.
Even though One Spark is free to attend, this festival is all about the money - getting it, giving it, and spreading it around to the worthiest contenders. If you're an entrepreneur, there are a few ways to get cash for your startup here. One of them involves lobbying for attendees' votes.
Another method employed here is entrepreneurs can just focus on networking with the right people. One Spark is a magnet for investors looking to find or fund their next big thing. Shad Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, used One Spark as his guide toward pouring more than $3 million into up-and-coming projects and investments.
Even if entrepreneurs don't hit networking gold, they're all actively collecting connections in the form of potential collaborators and mentors. These artists, innovators, musicians and technologists are trying to turn their ideas into reality and they know that the people here can help them do it. You'll see the most ambitious among them lobbying from booths and strolling the grounds making face-to-face pitches and spreading the word.
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