Dare Mighty Things: A conference to inspire creators in any startup ecosystem

Michael Gelphman, founder and organizer of the Dare Mighty Things conference.

By hearing success stories, Michael Gelphman believes it can inspire others to create their own success story.

And with the sixth Dare Mighty Things conference, Gelphman hopes he can continue inspiring others so eventually they can tell their story.

“When people see these examples of great things that happened throughout history, it gives you a higher level vision of what’s possible in your own life,” Gelphman says. “Everybody has greatness within them and that’s the purpose of this conference.”

The Dare Mighty Things Conference will be in Chicago for the first time on Nov. 3. The conference was held in Kansas City the last five years.

The all day conference features speakers who are developing SuperSonic travel, software engineers from NASA and the original iPhone designer. It’s all part of inspiring entrepreneurs and letting them know, these major success stories didn’t happen overnight.

“Because when you think about the Wright Brothers or sending humans to the moon, all of those things happened because people believed it was possible,” Gelphman said. “They just kept going and never gave up.”

Clay & Milk spoke with Gelphman to hear his thoughts on the Midwest startup ecosystem, why the Dare Mighty Things conference is important and if the Midwest should compare itself with Silicon Valley.

His Q&A is below:

What is your full time job?

Gelphman: I’m the founder of Dare Mighty Things and this conference is my full time gig, I focus on it 24/7/365. It’s really a chance to inspire people to think bigger about the world and the opportunities they have to create a company or ideas, or just even go for the things they want in life.

Why is this conference important?

MG: I want other people to be inspired and take action, because they don’t see their own potential. I think if they hear these stories from people who overcame challenge after challenge and never gave up, maybe that could spur them to create something, whatever that is.”

This is something that has been built from the heart. There are a lot of conferences out there but the way we approach this is really think about the attendee experience and crafting the messaging and each story fits together. It’s about all these different ideas and coming from a different place.

We’ve got people from 16 cities coming, major cities and I think it’s amazing because it’s great to have people come to the Midwest and is a testament for what we’re creating. And people want to be a part of something greater. It’s about a call of action for themselves. That’s the thing that sets it apart.

What should entrepreneurs to take away from this?

MG: Maybe it spurs somebody to become an entrepreneur or maybe it spurs an entrepreneur to think of an addition to their idea. But more than anything, just to get people thinking and open up their mind. An experience like this, I’d want it to live on in somebody’s memory.

I just want it to be an imprint on somebodies mind and get them to think about those stories they heard, so whenever they get discouraged, they think about the two-ton Mars Rover story or creating the first iPhone that started in 2005 and launched in 2007.

A lot of people are capable of starting things but what prevents them, is they look at some of the greats and say they could never get there. You only see the end result, the decades of work that went into something. And I think that prevents a lot of people from getting started because they think they could never get there. So if you hear about peoples journeys, it normalizes it for people and they can reference those things when they are building something.

How is the Midwest startup ecosystem?

MG: We are coming from a different place. The opportunities to create things have never been more accessible, the cost of putting ideas out there has never been cheaper. The opportunity to create things doesn’t have to be in a certain location. And people in the Midwest, there’s more to prove. We are a lot of bootstrappers, you have to build your company by bootstrapping because there’s not as much funding as there is on the coast.

That mindset can help people create sustainable companies instead of just getting something super funded. But everybody is making progress around the Midwest, it just needs more people creating ideas.

Events like ours can be a centerpiece or driver in helping to spur new thoughts and ideas, but also connections because we are creating this influential gathering of people and ideas. When you have this unifying theme like we have, the people who are attracted to that never know what could be created out of that.

Does being humble hurt the Midwest?

MG: It really depends on the situation. As a company it can be detrimental to have the opposite approach. I think it’s a good trait to have. There’s a difference between humble and ego, but if you have the right approach it’s a good trait to have.

Being humble doesn’t mean you are afraid to sell or about getting your idea out there, you are just humble in understanding your place in the world.

Should we compare ourselves to Silicon Valley?

MG: It’s like being focused on your competitors, you should know who your competitors are but you don’t only think about what they are doing. We all have unique strengths and things we should highlight, the more we get stuck on the whole is this city the next Silicon Valley? I just think that’s the wrong approach. It’s completely a bad way to think about it.

It’s important to think in those terms, like can we aspire to that, but we don’t want to be a clone of anybody. If you try to become somebody else, you lose who you are.

What can communities do to improve the ecosystem?

MG: I think having Accelerators and coworking that can be a central hub of a community to do events, meetups, those little pieces of glue that bring people together, and then bigger events like mine, and then founders who are building well funded startups that give people jobs, and maybe from that, more entrepreneurs are created. We just need more adoption of the entrepreneurial mindset and not be so risk averse to play it safe.

Sometimes in the Midwest those things happen, but it depends where you are. Chicago has tons of entrepreneurs and well funded startups with venture capital, that makes a huge difference. And that’s what other cities need, but the other thing is it doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why you just need people who are pushing things forward.