TechCrunch has Disrupt, Forbes has the “30 Under 30” conference, and Business Insider has IGNITION.
This year’s IGNITION closed out on Tuesday, December 4 after two days of exciting speaker lineups. Finishing its ninth year, IGNITION brought the heat by featuring not one but two celebrated investors from ABC’s Shark Tank.
The agenda also boasted two famous hip-hop artists doing amazing things outside of the music industry. Producing such a hard-hitting lineup of speakers, the brilliant organizers of this conference set the schedule back-to-back with no overlap so attendees and guests do not have to choose between content and shuffle around different rooms or stages.
Delicious refreshments and treats both healthy and guilty pleasures were available between sessions for those looking to mingle and take a break. Some of the goodies available were kombucha shots by Health-Ade, Insomnia Cookies, and my favorite, brioche-like doughnuts from Dough. An open invitation to the world from co-owner of Dough, Steven Klein, to “visit our Flatiron location and you can see the doughnuts being made” is an offer I will definitely be taking up.
Here are some of my favorite speakers and takeaways from IGNITION 2018.
Joining us from ABC’s Shark Tank, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, sat on a panel with Paladin co-founders, Felicity Conrad, and Kristen Sonday to close off the first day. Paladin is the system of record empowering the legal pro bono system and used by leading companies and firms like Lyft and Dentons. In New York, new lawyers are required to perform and report 50 hours of pro bono work whereas other states do not.
Mark’s message to the audience was clear: Give your legal business to the firms that are actively pursuing and working pro bono cases versus the ones that do not. This approach will help individuals without the resources to hire proper and good legal representation whether it is for a criminal case, immigration case, or government interview training.
Barbara Corcoran, no introduction necessary, recounted her early days with the $1000 loan and early success before wanting to separate from her business partner. Barbara shared that it took about a year for her to finally leave and when she did, he gave her what she calls her greatest gift in business which was a few words — “You’ll never succeed without me.”
That one statement became the fuel that rocket launched her success because she “would rather die than prove him right.” The shark also says that Trump is the best salesman she has ever met. They grew their real estate empires in NYC during the same time and she had been part of deals involving the Donald. Several wealthy families from China wanted to purchase The Plaza Hotel on 5th Ave. in Manhattan and they were all in a room with Donald and Barbara.
Barbara laughs as she tells the story of how Trump totally ignored the interest for Plaza Hotel and kept pushing some buildings and patches of land right on the Hudson in the Upper West Side. The Chinese investors came for the Plaza Hotel and left with a deal worth billions to develop on the property.
Meek Mill, famous hip-hop artist has been making headlines lately for his trouble with law enforcement. Meek was arrested in a raid for pointing a firearm at the officers raiding. He says he never did that, and that if he did that, it would be definite suicide.
It was later proven that he was wrongfully accused and that some of the arresting officers were investigated and found to be corrupt. When one cop finally agreed to finally sign an affidavit revising his statement, Michael Rubin, owner of the 76ers as well as longtime friend and advocate of Meek, was able to have Meek Mill released from prison.
Rubin realized how broken the system really was and that his friend Meek, was not an isolated incident. Rubin and Meek are now launching an organization that will be involved in criminal justice reform and will be announcing the name along with more details about how you can get involved.
Entertainer, Curtis Jackson, or better known as 50 Cent, came on stage with CEO of Starz, Chris Albrecht to discuss a bigger role with Starz that may involve Curtis taking a directors role with some new shows that he ideated. They may or may not be in relation to his already hit tv show “Power”. 50 Cent shared his thoughts on today’s music and his struggle to find a new shock factor within lyrics.
Back in the day, his lyrics, as he said: “‘I’ll take you to the candy shop’, was considered provocative and now everyone is rapping about ‘eating the booty like groceries’”. He also touched on the media backlash as he transitioned into television and film. “Whenever I did something good, it was ‘Music Mogul Curtis Jackson…’ and whenever it was something they didn’t like, it would be ‘Rapper 50 Cent.”
This fortified partnership between Starz and 50 Cent has Albrecht excited for the new hits they will be working on.
Alexis Ohanian, an entrepreneur well known for co-founding the front page of the internet, Reddit, sat down for a chat about his new role as VC with Initialized Capital. He first shed some details on his personal life, mostly, his marriage with one of the best female athletes in the world, Serena Williams. Alexis smiles as he tells us how thankful he is that he gets to share free time with Serena.
With such a rigorous training schedule and running multiple businesses, Ohanian admires Williams’ method of simply turning everything off when it’s her time off. No training, no phone calls, no social media, no coworkers. Everyone on her team knows how important that off time is so when she is on, her game is 100%. His new VC is focusing on software companies anywhere with 2-4 founders on the team and they cover many industries.
They believe every business will be transformed by good software and are putting their money behind it.
The Russo Brothers
Joe and Anthony Russo are famous Hollywood directors behind some of America’s favorite superhero titles. I guess they found their sweet spot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having directed two recent Captain America movies and Avengers: Infinity War.
Now, they have officially released the name of the new Avengers movie, which may I add, they refused to do so on stage, but then released it the next day. Avengers: Endgame is their newest blockbuster coming to theaters in 2019 but it was not the main talking point of their conversation on stage.
Joe and Anthony came into IGNITION to discuss a new artist collective and creative studio called AGBO. It’s an exciting time for these two considering they are also getting into bed with Amazon to help them essentially discover and create their version of ‘Game of Thrones.’
Peter Salib is a contributing writer at Grit Daily. He has been going to CES in Las Vegas consecutively for the past 7 years since the age of 21 and is an avid attendee of events nationwide. Having attended hundreds of events, he is now a co-founder of Event Integrity, the first integrity-based, vetted marketplace for event professionals. He also frequently works with startups to consult and advise on media, strategy, events, and fundraising. His dog, Scruffy, was featured on the Today Show with Kathy Lee & Hoda and was dubbed “Scruffy the Wonder Dog.”