The following post originally ran on www.jetsetfarryn.com. Farryn Weiner, a board member of Jones and B, is the Global Director of Digital for Michael Kors.
Here’s how a roving tech conference bought a mountain, put down roots and hosted one of the world’s biggest camping trips… via @RalphLauren
Imagine a meadow nestled between mountains in the Utah Rockies, tall grasses glowing golden in the evening light. And in that meadow, there is a dinner table. It happens to be a quarter of a mile long, laden with cheese and charcuterie and extra-large flasks of whiskey to sate what would soon become a party of 900 guests.
This is not some sort of farm-to-table take on Alice in Wonderland’s mad tea party but rather a description of the latest brainchild of Summit, a community/conference series that has been described by Forbes as “the hipper Davos” and by Wired.com as “TED meets Burning Man.” The massive dinner in a field was part of the Summit Outside event, which took place in July 2013 and drew a slew of forward-thinking young business leaders, including tech entrepreneurs, platinum hit–making record producers and the leaders of groundbreaking nonprofits. During dinner, they all pitched in to slice the meat, pass the salad and pour the wine. It felt like an enormous yet intimate family picnic.
In the past, Summit has held its Summit Series events on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, for which the featured speakers included Richard Branson and Russell Simmons, and on the slopes of a high-end ski resort in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, where days full of change-the-world talks were preceded by a meditation session. But Summit Outside was different because it took place at the series’ new home. The field was in the middle of the Powder Mountain resort property, a massive acreage near Eden, Utah, purchased by Summit in spring 2013 after a much-rumored investment round from several dozen backers, including Silicon Valley and Hollywood moguls.
Washington, D.C., entrepreneur Elliot Bisnow founded Summit in 2008, when he—just 22 at the time—wanted to find a way for ambitious young people to network in uncommon settings. By 2012, his organization needed a permanent home for its fast-growing events. Greg Mauro, a Utah-based venture capitalist who had attended Summit at Sea, the aforementioned cruise, contacted Bisnow after hearing that Powder Mountain was not just for sale but also facing an acquisition bid that would allow thousands of crowded luxury properties on its slopes—a move that greatly worried devotees of the proudly unpretentious resort, which opened in 1972. Read more, on Ralph Lauren