Long before this month started, I had marked this past weekend as ‘forced break time’ as the midterms had just ended and this weekend was just mine to relax a bit and unwind. This was the plan till I got to know about the NetImpact conference that was scheduled at Ann Arbor, MI from Oct 28-30. We started at around 5 am on Oct 29th and were in time for the sessions at Ross. It was a pleasant 3.5 hrs drive, with wonderful classmates to keep me company. I have this strange habit – I fall asleep within 30 mins of being in any closed moving vehicle. When I was a kid, my parents had a tough time keeping me awake in any trip – rail or road didn’t matter – and then they gave up. I sometimes fall asleep on my way home from college, which takes about 25 mins :-P. But on this trip, I wasn’t even a wee bit sleepy in spite of starting early or on my way back after a long day, thanks to my amazing classmates. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I carefully picked my sessions after a ‘could-have-been-better’ start of the day- I had forgotten my wallet in Columbus, my handbag’s handle broke and I had forgotten to take my business cards from the handbag when I went back to the car to dump my bag. I could not attend a session on sustainability and product innovation in spite of being at the venue 5 mins early. The two main subjects of my interest….my sadness was exacerbated when I heard from my classmates on that session’s ‘awesomeness’ :- (. Anyway, I attended another session on gridlines and sustainability and learned quite something.
The highlight of the day was the “Walmart Better Living Business Plan – Quick Pitch Challenge” where one of our classmates, Christine Deye had participated. She was one of the 12 that were selected from the vast pool to present their ideas in front of a panel of 3 judges. She was amazing in her confidence and presentation style and moved on to the second round, which had the top 5 ideas. The judges loved her idea but were of the opinion that a lot of unknowns needed to be explored. Look here for the video of her presentation. Though she did not win the competition, she got a lot of appreciation from the crowd and many came forward to talk to her about her idea. That was something! She made several very good contacts, one of which was with the CEO of Stonyfield. She was on a roll! She is now working on her idea to participate in the bigger ‘Walmart Business Plan Competition’, later this year. We wish her good luck with that.
Did I mention Stonyfield? yes, he was a key-note speaker on Saturday. he was truly amazing.. More on that in the next part of this blog..
That evening we all hit a bar somewhere in Ann Arbor. Met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. We shouted our trademark “O-H-I-O” right in the basement bar in front of the locals and were greeted with “I will bounce you all out..” by the bartender.. we laughed. “I am not joking, see I am not smiling”, he said and played the traditional MI music till he was sure that we were done with our O-H-I-O. I was always curious about this MI-OH relationship. I amused myself with people’s reactions after I told I was from the OSU and my appetite was well fed. I was greeted with ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s and knowing smiles.
I was looking forward to the next day and made sure that if I wanted to attend a session badly, I was there at least 15 mins before the start.
– to be cont’d…