The 2011 National Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) Conference took place October 27-29 in Fort Worth, Texas. Over 1,000 students from over 100 schools joined faculty, speakers, and entrepreneurs from across the country at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel for the event. Events that took place at the conference included: the National Elevator Pitch Competition, the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), keynote speaker panel, networking sessions, Chapter Awards, CEO Hall of Fame Induction, and more.
The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization and their conferences date back to the early 1980’s when Dr. Gerald Hills co-founded the organization while teaching at the University of Illinois, Chicago. The initial meeting started with under 20 students and now brings in over 1,000 students annually. The organization now has chapters at over 240 schools and has chapters in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
The 2011 Conference was once again emceed by “America’s Top Young Speaker” Arel Moodie, co-founder of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour and member of INC. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list of 2011. Moodie brought his inspirational messages and high energy to the conference, which brought the atmosphere at the conference to a very exciting level.
The three day conference started with chapter development sessions. At the sessions, student leaders shared their success and experiences of leading a chapter on their campus, while others learned new practices for leadership to continue to grow entrepreneurship on their campuses through CEO. The first night was capped with a new networking session, at which nearly 400 alumni, entrepreneurs and faculty connected with students, presenting the opportunity to extend their networks nationally and provide resources to help them professionally.
The second day of the conference was highlighted by the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award given out to serial entrepreneur and the original founder of Chuck E. Cheese, Dr. Gene Landrum. Dr. Landrum is an author of 18 books and a decorated entrepreneur. Dr. Landrum reached students as he spoke on “chasing your bliss” and to not listen to experts, as they are experts in what has happened in the past, and not what may happen in the future. Dr. Landrum was inducted into the CEO Hall of Fame and presented with the award on the field of Cowboys Stadium during the TCU vs. BYU football game, thanks to the generosity of TCU.
The National Elevator Pitch Competition also took place during the conference. The competition featured 60 competitors narrowed down from campus competitions and a written application process. Distinguished entrepreneurs were invited to judge the pitches over the three rounds of competitions to award the top prize of $2,500 in cash along with the press and prestige of winning the competition. First place went to Jillian Jaccard from Loyola Marymount University and her product the Partie Poche. To view her business or to contact Jillian, visit: www.partiepoche.com. For a full summary article of all of the 2011 winners and honorable mentions, view the article here: http://voices.yahoo.com/2011-national-elevator-pitch-competition-10410457.html?cat=15.
On Saturday of the conference, a keynote panel answered an hour’s worth of questions from the audience ranging from startup equity needed to the most important trait of an entrepreneur. The panel included Michael DeLazzer (Redbox founder), Daniel Gomez Iniguez (Solben), Evalynn Williams (Dikita Enterprises), Duane Spires (Extreme Youth Sports), and Sharon Lechter (co-author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series and founder of Pay Your Family First).
Other 2011 keynote speakers included: CJP Communications CEO Jen Prosek, CEO of the Beryl Companies Paul Spiegelman, CEO and founder of Fabulous Coach Lines Ray Land, CEO co-founder and former Fannie Mae Candie Owner John Hughes, and Larry North of Larry North Fitness.
Jen Prosek, CEO of CJP Communications, helped CEO raffle off a tremendous package for a lucky student that includes a trip to New York to shadow Jen and learn in-person what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Michael Cauble from Johnson County Community College won the trip that will take place in the spring of 2012.
Chapter awards were given out to the best and most successful schools in an array of categories, such as best marketing plan, best business plan, and best overall chapter. The Best Overall Chapter Award was won by Bryant University, who has received this title four out of the last five years. Schools are awarded a cash prize for each chapter award that they are able to use towards chapter expenses and new business ventures.
Students tweeted during the National Conference using #CEONAT2011. You can still view these tweets on Twitter, and can view a summary video of the conference on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg-xfGcxiRo.
The next CEO National Conference will be held in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place November 1-3, 2012. Contact CEO at CEO@c-e-o.org with any comments or questions about the organization or the National CEO Conference.