A Letter From our Founder: Shadow Summit 2020

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The planet is dying, and we are the reason why. If left unchecked, the current pace of nature’s decline will have grave implications for the human race. We stand to face increasing natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, and threats to public health. Waste is the largest contributing factor to this problem. And the built environment is one of the top producers of waste in the world—period. But innovation can save the planet.

And that’s what led us to start Shadow Summit 4 years ago; we wanted to bring together the leaders, technologies, and conversations driving innovation in the built environment. Over two days, we bring in high-caliber speakers from around the world to arm attendees with the knowledge needed to plan the next 12 months of their business or career. Last year was a huge success; we had 200 executive-level attendees (representing 6 countries) and 26 sessions with keynotes by Michael J. Coles, former CEO of American Cookie Company and Caribou Coffee, and unicorn-startup founders Kabir Barday (Onetrust) and Matt Grimm (Andruil). Executives from Thornton Tomasetti, JBB, Walter P Moore, HOK, Perkins and Will, Woods Bagot, CBRE, Cortland, Stanford University, Shibumi International, VINCI, and BE&K were in attendance.

We had been considering taking Summit virtual to save resources and increase our reach, but we hadn’t quite taken the leap. Then COVID-19 hit this winter, and we realized 2020 was our opportunity to double down on our environmental philosophy. Our world-wide community and investor base had grown substantially in the year prior, so we were ready to go global. Innovation creates abundance where there was once scarcity; we embarked to test the viability of creating the best virtual conference focused on innovation in the built environment.

So we ran an experiment this spring with our 2020 AEC/RE Pitchathon. In six weeks, we pulled together a marathon pitch event for the built environment community. We had 60+ startups pitch over 2 days—all virtually hosted with an audience of venture capital investors, architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, and operators. With 250+ participants, we learned what to do and what not to do to make a virtual event wildly successful. 

Shadow Summit 2020 will be totally virtual and global. In addition to supporting our environmental goals, this switch to virtual will allow us to better serve our global membership and investor base. Shadow Summit 2020 will run from 10 am-10 pm EDT over two days, September 22nd-23rd. From the west coast of the US to London, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Sydney—we are preparing programming to reach the whole world. And the decision-makers in attendance—architects, engineers, contractors, building owners and operators, venture capital investors, and startups—are just the people you want to meet.

How do I network at a virtual event? We know that it can be difficult to truly connect virtually, so this year’s programming prioritizes making real connections. We purchased a platform that is recognized as the leading global platform for hosting virtual events. And over the past few months, we have hosted over 50 roundtables and have found them to be very successful in creating intimate connections and community. So we’re bringing roundtables to Summit. 

Roundtables. After their session, instead of Q&A, speakers will immediately move to a virtual private room to continue the conversation with 10 preselected guests. These limited spots are first-come-first-served. Once a roundtable is full, that’s it—so buy your ticket now and grab the roundtable spots you really want!

This September, we’re conserving resources, connecting globally, and spreading knowledge of the technology that will save the world. Will you join us?

-K.P. Reddy

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