MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s entrepreneurial incubator Blackstone LaunchPad invites all who seek inspiration to attend the inaugural Last Best Conference to help pursue their passions.
The conference will be held Thursday and Friday, Aug. 25-26, at The Wilma, Missoula’s historic theater, with additional activities all across town.
Akin to events like SXSW and World Domination Summit, the conference will feature nationally renowned speakers including Missoula native John Stone, head of innovation and commercialization at Samsung; Mark Roberge, HubSpot chief revenue officer; Ariel Adkins, Twitter art and culture liaison; and Lu Setnicka, former human resources director at Patagonia.
Between keynote speakers, conference attendees will attend participant-driven breakout sessions and social events designed to spark networking and community building. The Last Best Conference is designed and organized by a statewide team of volunteers who are passionate about supporting an innovative Montana full of creative dreamers and thinkers.
“The values of the conference are creativity, courage and community,” said Morgan Slemberger, marketing and operations manager at UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad. “We focused on these values because we want all community members of the Mountain West to have a place to come together and take a step toward living a passionate life.”
The structure of the Last Best Conference differentiates itself through participant-driven breakout sessions in between keynote addresses. These sessions, held in various locations throughout Missoula, are designed to feel like an impromptu discussion amongst colleagues rather than a formal presentation.
“The breakout sessions are an opportunity to build community and that is a huge goal of this event,” Slemberger said. “We are creating experiences throughout the event to encourage participants to engage with each other and the city of Missoula by hosting the event in conjunction with Downtown ToNight and the River City Roots Festival.”
Prior to the two-day conference, additional innovative learning opportunities called “LBCon Academies” will be held at UM. Academy topics range from starting a business to using creativity to change an organization and the world. For a full academy listing, visit http://www.lastbestconference.com/academies/.
Tickets for the conference cost $199, which includes all main-stage sessions, conference swag and a drink token for Thursday’s cocktail party at The Wilma. Tickets are available online at http://thewilma.com/event/last-best-conference-1067/. Academies cost $29 per session. In addition, participants may choose to register for a two-day boot camp on Tuesday and Wednesday led by global accelerator program Seed Spot, which costs $450.
“The Kauffman Foundation ranks Montana as No. 1 in the nation for startup activity, so we want to keep that momentum going with events like Last Best Conference and encourage those independent thinkers and creators to start something incredible here,” Slemberger said.
Blackstone LaunchPad at UM is a co-curricular, experiential campus program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, ideation and venture creation support. Learn more at https://www.umt.edu/launchpad/.