Summit Series is a community of global innovators and thought leaders that work together to affect positive change. How do they do it? They believe that when great minds meet, great things happen. So they gather some of the Nations top millennial dreamers and doers and allow them to connect, inspire and empower one another. The Summit Series experience is part think tank and part rock concert where hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for nonprofits.
The Summit Series Team at DC10:
Jeff Rosenthal, Brett Leve, Jeremy Schwartz, Justin Cohen, Elliott Bisnow, Thayer Walker, Josh Zabar
Summit Series cultivates a game changing mentality, that combines business, philanthropy and leadership. In addressing American innovation in the State of the Union Address on January 25, 2011, President Obama said, “None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”
If the future of our economy relies on innovation, Summit Series accelerates the process by bringing together some of the top movers and shakers for three thought-provoking days. Peak behind the scenes with Thayer Walker, chief reconnaissance officer and learn what Summit Series is all about:
Is it a fundraiser, conference, giving circle, incubator…
Summit Series, a community of millennial leaders drawn together every year for three thought-provoking days designed to connect, inspire, and empower. It is part think tank and part rock concert where we raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofits. The most recent event, last May, took place in Washington D.C., and included Bill Clinton, Ted Turner, astronauts, movie stars, scientists, tech geniuses and super models.
Explain the environment you like to create at each Summit Series.
We create a surreal atmosphere for incredible people to form lasting bonds. It’s astronauts engaging with artists, movie stars skydiving with entrepreneurs, and athletes debating scientists. At our last event we followed President Clinton’s Friday night keynote on global health with a party hosted by one of the world’s best DJs. At 10am the next morning people were learning how to paddle off a ten-foot waterfall with a world-champion kayaker. If you put remarkable people in unique situations beautiful things happen.
Is it a fundraiser, conference, giving circle, incubator?
All of the above.
We have raised $2 million for non-profits we champion and exposed young business leaders to the concept of giving for the very first time. At one event we had a 20-year-old who ran a $250 million business lose a charity auction for a seat at a UN Foundation dinner with Ted Turner, Kofi Annan, and Queen Raina. Even though he lost, he wrote a check for $100,000 because he wanted to get involved. He told us it was the first time anyone had shown him the precedent of giving.
Businesses are literally built at Summit. Last year an entrepreneur named Doug Imbruce had an idea for Qwiki, a company that creates information experiences. Think Wikipedia meets YouTube. At Summit he found the tools, partners, and inspiration he needed to build the company and a few months ago he won $50,000 at TechCrunch Disrupt’s start up competition. Last week Qwiki closed an $8 million round of funding that included investments by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim.
What makes it unique?
We stand at a unique point in sociological evolution. Technology has grown up with the millennial generation and today we have more influence and power than any preceding generation. Look at what Mark Zuckerburg and Dustin Moskowitz are doing with the Giving Pledge: they’re giving away billions. No young people have ever had this kind of capability—at least not on this scale. A few years ago we looked around and saw all these incredible young people doing paradigm-shifting things, but they were all doing it within their own silos. We’re breaking down those walls and creating a community that catalyzes greatness.
Discuss your interest in women’s empowerment?
It’s been shown over and over again that when women have more opportunities—in education, business, athletics—society as a whole becomes stronger. It’s a net gain for everyone. The Atlantic wrote an interesting article about the feminization of the workplace last year. Giving women opportunities for success isn’t just women’s empowerment. It’s societal betterment.