Attending Silicon Slopes Tech Summit

Since moving to the Salt Lake Valley 18 months ago, I’ve not been able to plug myself into the local technology and entrepreneur community as much as I had hoped. Between a somewhat hectic travel schedule and a steady stream of client work, there are days when I don’t venture outside beyond the mailbox, or a walk with the dogs around the block — much less attend one of the many user groups or startup activities in region. Which is sad, because we have an amazing organization here called Silicon Slopes (https://siliconslopes.com/), which is constantly organizing free events up and down the Wasatch front. I used to thrive on this kind of stuff back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when I had my software startup, and even co-founded a technology user group association (eBig.org), a 501c3 focused on entrepreneur and technology events and user groups in the SF East Bay similar to Silicon Slopes. Utah is no Silicon Valley — but the tech community is thriving here, and the region has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country due in large part to that rapidly growing tech community, and organizations like this provide a valuable service to the business community by helping people connect.

Aside from eBig.org, I was also a long-time member of SDForum (which has evolved somewhat), and attended various events around the Bay Area two or three times a month. When I started my first company with two business school friends, SDForum and eBIG helped keep me stay motivated and inspired, and connected me with mentors and vendors, some of which I’m still in contact with today. In fact, I just connected with a friend from that era who was the CEO of a small tech company. We were reminiscing about a “CEO Roundtable” that the two of us had helped form, a support group for company founders — right at the tail end of one of the biggest venture capital investment era’s in US history. We invited additional members that we met through these various events, mostly organized by SDForum, and at one point we were even written up in an edition of the now-defunct Red Herring Magazine, and a few of us were photographed and included within IBM’s annual report.

My point in sharing this walk down memory lane is that the real benefit of participating in these tech and business community activities was not about the guest speakers and free appetizers, but about the cross-pollination between founders and employees, the sharing of ideas and opinions with different people who have diverse backgrounds, and expanding personal and professional networks. THAT is what I am missing by not participating more actively in these local and regional events.  I know I need to get out more.

And so I’m turning over a new leaf, and kicking off the new year by attending the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit (https://www.siliconslopessummit.com/) happening next week (Jan 18th and 19th) at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.

Here’s a quick overview and video:

Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is a globally recognized two-day summit organized and hosted by the Silicon Slopes community. With some of the most prominent and leading minds in the tech industry taking the stage, Silicon Slopes Tech Summit 2018 is the largest and most prominent annual tech event in the state of Utah. Silicon Slopes Tech Summit 2018 features prominent keynotes, premium breakout sessions inside of six different tracks, a breathtaking concert by Neon Trees, and an exclusive screening of a film from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The amount of talent and experience that’s on display makes this a unique event that could only happen in Silicon Slopes.

Networking opportunities aside, what I am most excited about with this event, honestly, is that it’s the first non-Microsoft event I’ve attended in years, the last one being the E2 Conference (I think) in Boston back in 2013. I remember it because I interviewed former Yammer exec Adam Pisoni at the event, which was one year after Microsoft’s acquisition. But I digress…

Looking forward to taking a break from calls and customers to spend 2 days exploring the sessions, expo hall, and networking spaces to find out more about the world outside of the SharePoint and Office 365 ecosystem. Plus, the Neon Trees are performing at the event party — saw them at Microsoft’s Worldwide Party Conference a couple years back, and thoroughly enjoyed their performance. And I’m also excited to take two of my employees with me so that we can divide-and-conquer. I’m expecting it to be a great event, and it should benefit my company, as well.

If you’re located in Utah and interested in tech and startups, Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is the place to be next week. If you’re planning to attend, and see me wandering the expo hall aisles, please say hello!

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and fractional-CMO for revealit.io, tyGraph, and Extranet User Manager.