Elliott's blog

A photo diary of my adventures

Monthly Archives: March 2009

Aspen Summit (April 2-5, 2009)



The Aspen Summit is coming up and here’s what to expect:

Attendees: The Aspen Summit will have about 115 attendees. We have an incredible group of people coming, and to give you a sense, here’s a paragraph from our upcoming press release:

First time Summit Series attendees include: 31 year old, World Press Photo award winner Michael Appleton; 29 year old, Healthcare.com CEO, Matias De Tezanos who was recently named a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the World Economic Forum; 34 year old, Social Gaming Network (SGN) CEO, Shervin Pishevar; 27 year old day trader Tim Sykes, who after posting stock market gains of 197% in 2008 was named the #1 trader/investor on Covestor.com; and 30 year old, Bear Naked Co-founder and CEO, Brendan Synnott who recently sold his company to Kellogg’s.

Sponsors: We’re thrilled to be co-hosting the event with GQ Magazine and our philanthropic partner, the United Nations Foundation. Our other sponsors include: Staples, Jones Lang LaSalle, Raymond Weil, Internet Capital Group, SpeakerBox PR, Marquis Jet, Calvin Klein, Wellnet Healthcare, RBC Wealth Management, and Diageo.

Our sponsors play a critical role in allowing us to subsidize trip costs for attendees.

Philanthropic presenters: We’re most excited about our focus on philanthropy and are excited to be working closely with United Nations Foundation.

Each day at the Aspen Summit, we have presentations by young philanthropists who are having a tremendous impact around the world. These presentations are an opportunity for our attendees to learn about charitable organizations and then contribute idea capital and resources to help solve the challenges each philanthropist lays out.

Presenters for charities at the April 2009, Aspen Summit will include:


31 year old Elizabeth Gore from Nothing But Nets, which is trying to eradicate Malaria. NBN provides bed nets to children and families in Africa, which protect them from mosquitos at night. NBN has raised $25 million and given away 2.5 million bed nets in under 3 years.

Lauren Bush

25 year old Lauren Bush from Feed Projects, whose trademark product is the FEED Bag. The reversible burlap and cotton bag is stamped with “FEED the children of the world” and the number “1″ to signify that each bag purchased feeds one child in school for one year. Through FEED Bag sales, they have raised donations for the World Food Program to feed tens of thousands of hungry children.


27 year old Bobby Bailey from Invisible Children, an organization that works to address the challenge of child soldiers in Uganda. Invisible Children has gained tremendous visibility for their cause through their documentary and the edgy clothing they sell.


31 year old Ethan Zohn from Grassroots Soccer, who took his $1 million from winning Survivor to set up soccer leagues in Africa enabling the children there to get tested for HIV/AIDS


Finally, 36 year old Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, inventor of the LifeStraw will be attendding. Mikkel’s company, Vestergaard Frandsen, is an international company specializing in complex emergency response and disease control products. They are a private sector company working in public health, and all of their products prevent and control the transmission of disease and save lives. Pretty amazing!


Pictured above, Leo Hindery Jr, (founder of the YES Network, former AT&T CEO, and 24 Hours of Le Mans race winner) has helped make our philanthropic efforts possible. Thank you Leo!

We are very excited for the Summit, and thank everyone for their support!

White House Summit


I wanted to update everyone on the recent White House Summit we held.   I’ll give you a quick summary, but if you want more details, the official press release can be found here.

On Sunday night, February 22nd I went to an Oscars party in Washington DC and met two amazing people who work in the Office of Public Liaison: David Washington and Yosi Sergant. David is the Associate Director for the Office of Public Liaison and Yosi (read about him here) is the guy who commissioned Shepard Fairey’s now famous ‘Hope’ posters and pins. See image below with Yosi in front. 


After telling David and Yosi about Summit Series we had a great idea.  The White House wanted to discuss the current economic situation and WH strategy with young entrepreneurs and company founders who have a serious economic impact.  The idea was simple: Summit Series, which hosts summits for the top young company founders and CEO’s in the world (Summit attendees are under 40 years old with an average age of 29) could host a White House Summit. 

Examples of companies with ‘serious economic impact’ are Blackboard, which did $330 million in revenues in 2008, Zappos, which did $1 billion in revneues in 2008 and Ecko Unlimitd which did $1.5 billion in revenues in 2008.  These companies, with hundreds of employees, are run by young entrepreneurs. Blackboard’s Michael Chasen is 37, Zappos’ Tony Hsieh is 34 and Ecko Unlimited’s Marc Ecko is 35.


Two weeks later, on Friday, March 6th, 35 company founders gathered in Washington DC for our White House Summit.  We met with members of the National Economic Council (Jason Furman, the Deputy Director), New Media Team (Macon Philips, the Director of New Media), Intergovermental Relations (Michael Strautmanis), Office of Public Liaison, Domestic Policy Council, and the office of Energy and Climate Change. 

Doug Imbruce (founder of theU.net) summed up the White House objectives much better than I ever could: “We are impressed that the White House is creating an ‘open source’ culture within the walls of government that invites ideas from outside. We hope this heralds a new era of collaboration between the private and public sectors.”


Above is a cool photo of Twitter’s Evan Williams and Kiva.org’s Jessica Jackley as they discussed economic policy and governmental transparency in our meeting following the White House Summit. 

Ryan Allis, Founder of iContact, wrote a nice blog post and highlighted attendee reactions following the White House Summit:

  • @ev wrote: “Lessons from today: Obama’s team: smart and committed. Learned a lot and was inspired.”


  • @saaca wrote: “The folks from the White House are sharp. Obama made it cool once again for awesome people to serve in government.”


  • @tomsshoes wrote: “Just left the meeting – pretty inspirational. The administration really does want our input, each gave their personal email addresses and encouraged dialogue.”


Above, Karmaloop Co-Founder Dina Selkoe listens as her group discusses trends in social media. Karmaloop, an online streetwear retailer, did $40 million in revenues in 2008.

Why did 35 entrepreneurs fly in from around the country (and the world) to Washington DC that Friday? From Doug Imbruce: “Our goal is to help in any way we can to pull our country out of this recession and uniting many young entrepreneurs in one place, with one vision was a great first step.”

Attendees included:

  • Twitter Co-founder and CEO Evan Williams
  • Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
  • Blackboard founder and CEO Michael Chasen
  • Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley
  • DailyCandy COO Catherine Levene
  • Kluster Founder and CEO Ben Kaufman
  • Ecko Enterprises founder Marc Ecko
  • Tishman Speyer Co-CEO Rob Speyer
  • Trump SVP Ivanka Trump
  • UnderCurrent Co-Founder Josh Spear
  • Venturehouse Group Founder and CEO Mark Ein
  • Mint.com founder and CEO Aaron Patzer
  • New York Observer Owner and Publisher Jared Kushner
  • Eastbanc CFO Philippe Lanier
  • Method Co-Founders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry
  • MTV VP of Public Affairs Jason Rzepka
  • CAA Agent Matt Mazzeo
  • Toms Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie
  • Threadless Founder Jake Nickel
  • Karmaloop Founders Dina and Greg Selkoe
  • Niche Media Founder and CEO Jason Binn
  • Clearspring Founder and CEO Hooman Radfar
  • College Humor Co-founder Josh Abramson 


Attendees represented a wide cross section of industries. Above, the real estate industry is represented by Trump Organization’s Ivanka Trump, Kushner Companies’ Jared Kushner, and Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer.

As a 23 year old entrepreneur, I was humbled to have this opportunity.  Moving forward, the White House Summit attendees are working to implement tangible ideas and solutions, and we are specifically focusing on the following areas:

  • Economy and Stimulus
  • Education and Job Creation
  • New Media and Govermental Transparency
  • Energy and Environment

We’ll also be opening the dialogue (through a great website called Kluster) to the entire Summit community and those outside the community who have big (or small) ideas and would like to have their voices heard.