Industry Innovator: Building a Better Show
PE: Why are you bringing it to the U.S. now?
SV: One, there was a need for it, and two, we were ready. We had a model in place. There are things about the U.S. market that are different but the timing was right. We had a tremendous amount of momentum and—here's the kicker—a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from the employee base, because this is an all-volunteer, non-commercial, non-profit [initiative]. UBM invests a decent amount of money to put this on, and while we bring our partners to bear there is still a lot of time, energy and capital that is applied to it.
PE: So UBM employees leverage their eventplanning skills to make this happen?
SV: Exactly. UBM is pretty smart at producing all kinds of conferences and expos, so the approach and thinking was to get the best speakers and best people together who know this segment and put on an event to bring those business leaders in. In the U.S. the idea is also to bring business and nonprofits together [in partnerships]—nonprofits already have their feet on the ground, they already have tentacles in the community. Businesses can teach nonprofits about a business approach and sensibility and nonprofits can see where there is a good match. So matching up is part of this conference.
PE: What message to you hope to send to the corporate attendees?
SV: It's not a political statement, but we know if we can help business executives—our core audience who consumes our content—really understand how to gather their resources, apply new ideas to community engagement, social innovation and corporate social responsibility, we can make the move from checkbook philanthropy, which is what we have today, into something that is much more aggressive about actually putting resources directly into a community issue or challenge to make a social impact.