The inaugural FlintConf, the Denton startup conference for hipsters, hackers, and hustlers, began with a welcome from Stoke’s executive director, Heather Gregory. She spoke about her experiences pursuing her own entrepreneurial projects, including a food cart and her current side hustle, Bloom NTX.
Gregory explained that one of the most important and valuable outcomes of her work, even if the project ultimately “failed” and organizers had to change course (as they often do in the startup world), has been forging quality, genuine relationships with people who understand and complement her strengths and skills and enable true community building. She kicked off the day by having hipsters, hackers, and hustlers in the audience self-identify and encouraged them to look around and note potential peers and collaborators with whom they could connect.
Heather Steele, CEO and founder of Blue Steele Solutions, lead a session on branding, titled “Building Your Business Battlecry” and engaged attendees with questions about what people actually care about when it comes to your business. Winning.
Attendees had the option of remaining at the main stage for speaker Pilar Angel, strategic communications and community outreach consultant, who spoke on how to outburn burnout, or heading to one of two conference rooms for a breakout discussion. Heather Steele lead a deep dive into branding, offering advice on how to build your business battle cry/develop your elevator pitch. Attendees could also visit with Emile Stewart, founder and owner of Wildflower Art Studio, to hear about her branding process and entrepreneur-life adventures.
Angel’s talk covered workplace wellbeing, how to differentiate stress and burnout, and practices that you can adopt to avoid burnout. Because stress can lead to health complications such as increased rates of heart attack and hypertension, recognizing signs of impending burnout and slowing down to take a breath can lessen that negative potential. Angel had the audience relating to and laughing at common work situations that resonated with them, leaving them with advice on how to begin practicing and incorporating mindfulness into one’s routine.
Josh Berthume, CEO and President of Swash Labs, connected the concepts of storytelling and marketing strategy, reiterating during his presentation that storytelling is a powerful force when used intentionally and for a purpose. He detailed three major mistakes that entrepreneurs and brands often make when approaching their marketing strategy: putting it off (or not prioritizing it enough), investing insufficiently, and being inconsistent.
Rounding out the morning, TechMill cofounder and President, Kyle Taylor, spoke on lean principles and how to “fail fast.” Taylor talked about the businesses and organizations that he’s founded and been involved with as a tech community builder. One of his takeaways for FlintConf attendees was that “no matter how big you get, always pay your taxes, then profit, and then you can buy gold faucets.”
After lunch from Chestnut Tree, FlintConf attendees met back at the main stage for a fundraising panel that consisted of experienced entrepreneurs with knowledge in the following areas:
GiGi McDowell, founder and CEO of Fetefully, moderated the panel. Attendees were able to visit with each of the panelists to ask questions specific to their own work and businesses during fundraising breakout discussions following the panel and running alongside Britt Krohvjak’s talk on funding your future and managing finances. Britt’s speaker session included many questions from the audience about planning and funding one’s business and what to expect in the process.
To close out the day, CEO and cofounder of ReadyRosie, Emily Roden took the stage to talk about the entrepreneurial mindset. She outlined ways to nourish one’s entrepreneurial spirit that enabled her to launch and grow ReadyRosie to the nationally acclaimed educational resource and child readiness tool that it is today. Her honesty and wit surrounding struggles in the startup process during her speaker session inspired audience members who are working through their own challenges. True to her educator background, Roden ended her talk with an activity encouraging everyone to find their entrepreneurial super power, involving designing their own capes and donning masks.
Content experts and entrepreneurs sharing their stories had valuable insight and resources to share with attendees through the day. FlintConf 2019 ended with a wind-down at Armadillo Ale Works, where conference attendees, speakers, and facilitators chatted about the day and further connected.
Stoke thanks everyone who made FlintConf an amazing day of learning and community strengthening in Denton! Much gratitude to our sponsors, TechMill, the Greater Denton Arts Council, TWU’s Center for Women in Business, the First State Bank Exchange at NCTC, ReadyRosie, and the Denton Angels. Special thanks to the City of Denton’s Economic Development Department for all of their help during the planning process, with printed materials, and during conference day.
Photos by the talented Will Milne
Stoke is a coworking space and entrepreneurial hub in the heart of Denton, TX. We work to support local entrepreneurs, startups, business owners, creatives, and others by offering flexible and affordable membership options, resources to help you start, grow, and sustain your business, and educational and networking events to connect community members to one another. We hope to see you at Stoke soon!