Inspirefest 2016

It was my first year at Inspirefest and oh boy did I need a boost like that. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it for Thursday, but Friday did not disappoint either. Many topics I am generally interested in were discussed: sharing or collaborative economy, advancements in health industry, fintech opportunities, product design and inclusive society as well as some very interesting aspects of fashion.

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I have to say I loved every single speaker – it was refreshing to hear strong women talk about tech, male dominated industries, struggles and how they see the future. All speakers were very responsive on Twitter as well, which definitely made it nicer and led to an open dialogue with attendants. The diversity of topics was great too.

First half of the day brought us Robin Chase (co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar) speaking about untapped opportunities in sharing economy and how sharing is overtaking owning in demand – especially with younger generation.

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We were then treated to a panel discussion about the future trends of economic models with Robin Chase, Jules Coleman (co-founder Hassle.com) and Nilofer Merchant (Author “Onlyness”).

The next section was focused on design and branding. We heard Alan Siegel (President and CEO, Siegelvision), Mark Curtis (Founder, Fjord) and Lorna Ross (Director of Design, Mayo Clinic).

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Alan spoke about importance of branding and gave some great tips and general guidelines what to think about in regards to creating a brand. Mark touched upon how important designers are within the organization, how to integrate them and generally what designer’s role within modern organization is as well as what designer’s role is going to be in creating future concepts and services.

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Lorna impressed everybody with her experience, knowledge, some amazing stories and struggles she had overcome as a designer.

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After a little break we moved on to a heavy subject of health. We heard about some very cool new research and work done in the field of possible cancer treatment research, soft robotics and how tech has been able to tap into the consumer health industry. Here is something I have learned that day:

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Next segment was all about fintech. One of the fast growing industries. I was really looking forward to this as I saw “Blockchain” in the agenda. Both speakers in this segment had a point. Hazel Moore was saying how banks should take an opportunity to innovate and Claire Calmejane was telling us how bank she works for is taking innovation seriously. We were shown a very memorable clip of bank service imitation in the pub. I have to say it was hilarious.

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Closing the session was a panel discussion.

 Lunch was then served and every taste and requirement was catered for I thought – there was an option for a vegan, celiac, superfoods and meet lovers. Boxes were packed with great food, juices and snacks.

After having us all fed and rested the next speaker told us the story of how a tweet with a Lottie doll from last year’s Inspirefest manifested in a beautiful project by Elena Rossini. She was offered to produce a movie of a Lottie doll inspired by a little girl in Canada. The room quietly sobbed.

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We then were treated to the part that I’m sure made many grown-ups in the room think about what they are doing with their lives. Future leaders were on stage. Girls, who at their age can only be described as role models – Niamh Scanlon (EU Digital Girl of the Year 2015),Elle Loughran, Edel Brown and Vanessa Greene. Before however girls went on stage we were treated to a presentation from Mary Carty. She is a co-founder of Outbox Incubator – incubator designed to empower young girls. The story of last year’s project was so moving and the cherry on the top was of course the announcement that next Outbox incubator is going to be in Dublin. How awesome is that? We then saw Niamh Scanlon talk. I am more than twice older and I could not be as articulate and well spoken as this young lady. I have nothing but admiration for her and all Irish Outbox incubator participants that came up on stage for a panel discussion. It’s amazing to see these ladies and opportunities they have taken to pursue their passions. Awe.

We also had an opportunity to hear Karla O’Brien and her story of realization, struggle, coming to terms and accepting. I am glad to hear that she received support of loved ones she was needed and I hope that this story is one of many to show how far we have become as a society. We need more stories like that. We really do. It was emotional and received a well deserved standing ovation.

A carefully planned event continued a subject of female empowerment and we moved to the Founders section. We heard female success stories. How it all happened, what obstacles they had to overcome and what does the future hopefully hold for them. We had yet again female role models on a stage.

After a coffee break the investor part came in. I honestly did not know what to expect from it. I was in for a treat. What an amazing concept of #sheeo and #radicalgenerosity. Google them, concepts are super exciting and super cool! I hope it catches on and expands to many, many cities around the world.

Vicki’s speech was followed by a presentation from Adam Quinton and Claudia Iannazzo.

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My heart melted hearing Adam speak. We need more male advocates of female inclusivity in VC sector. I can only hope that Adam and men like him would be able to lead by example.

We also hear Sharon Vosmek (Astia Angels) and she was on fire. She was passionate, sharp and strong. I suppose what a woman needs to be these days if she wants to make it to the top in the male led industries.

All above mentioned amazing people were then summoned on the stage once again for a panel discussion led by a legend that is Kara Swisher. Kara was merciless in her remarks, fairly so. To me personally it was perhaps one of the more interesting panels of the day.

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The (almost) closing section of the day was dedicated to fashion. We heard two speakers –Carrie Hammer and Liz Jackson. Both had interesting stories to tell in regards to fashion. Carrie with her unusual approach to showcasing her fashion (which I completely agree with and totally route for) and Liz with ideas of fashion for people with disabilities. She made so many great points one of which being – disabled people are not there to inspire you. Could not agree more.

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Closing the day was Dr Maureen Gaffney who speaking about happiness and how to maintain balance. Very important advice these days, considering how busy of lifestyles we lead and how little time we take to take care of our mental health.

Overall the day was an absolute highlight of the week for me personally and gave a much needed boost of positive emotions. Lots to think about too. I am hoping that other attendees had a similar effect and Dublin became a city of many inspired people, even if just for a short while.

There was a Fringe event in the evening following the main event at the Board Gais. We were summoned in a Merrion Sq. I’m going to be honest and say I only saw Ada, Ada, Ada – the story of Ada Lovelace and the side of her perhaps not being praised enough – and the very end of Lisa Hannigan’s performance. What an amazing voice.

I’d like to congratulate a team behind Inspirefest on organising such a beautiful event and I honestly wish there were more events like that. I’m already looking forward to Inspirefest2017.

Disclaimer: I was invited on a blogger pass, however this review is totally honest.

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