I’m atending this cool 2-day event in Detroit called Future Midwest. And on the whole it’s a really fantastic event. If you want to read more about what happened today talke a look at the twitter archive of the #fmw11 hashtag.
But for those of you who didn’t click those links, keep reading here to witness me rant about a few things. But first I do have to explain what FutureMidwest is:
What is Future Midwest?
Pitched on it’s website as “The region’s largest digital business conference.” Future Midwest is like a regional South by Southwest. (SXSW) They explain further on the website and most of their marketing has been around the concept of Midwest being the region and that the conference will be: “professionals with extensive digital, marketing and strategic backgrounds teaching attendees “what” they should expect to see in the coming years and “how” to successfully capitalize on the trends with marketing and business strategies.” Plus “the opportunity to network with each other, presenters and professionals from the startup community, VC firms and a variety of other industries and backgrounds.”
I’ve been able to network with VCs, startups, presenters, and professionals in the startup community. I’ve also heard a couple of engaging talks on business and the future of digital business (mobil and social). I’ve seen some really amazing talent represented here.
Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop?
The Problem with Future MIDWEST
Is that this has been all about Detroit. Yes I understand that there are a lot of people from Detroit here, and that the founders are Detroit focused etc. But for those of us not from Detroit I didn’t pay to come to a cheerleading session about how Woodward Ave will be changed to Webward Ave. (Which is stupid on so many levels). And I didn’t pay to hear speakers show me how things are terrible in Detroit, why they are and what D Town needs to do to revitalize.
I’m not from Detroit.
I’m a West Sider, and while I think we should all get along and play well together, I expected this conference to contain more information about the region, about the Midwest. Something that I can be proud of to talk to my friends in Chicago and explain what is coming out of Michigan, or explain to my Californian friends what is cool and coming out of the MidWest.
I also expected to see people brainstorming how we can unite across barriers such as states and geography to get the midwest into the mobile-social playing field. Lets talk about 4G and why the MidWest is being over looked.
Instead I’m pitched the fact that light rail is coming to Detroit and will not ever reach outside of Detroit.
If thist conference were named Future Detroit I could understand all the cheerleading about Mo Town, but since it’s called Future MidWest can we please please discuss the region? @davemurr one of the co-chair’s for Future MidWest even had the balls to post this tweet: “Michigan still suffers from pocketed communities. #Detroit, #AnnArbor, #GrandRapids, #Lansing are you listening? #FMW11” I wanted to scream so bad when I read that. If Future Midwest is truly about the midwest then get off the D Town cheerleading squad and start the open dialog.
And that’s day one.
Oh there was also this thing called Funded by Night. So, So, So worth my money for the whole conference, and then some. Sorry to the 20 something startups who presented and didn’t win. But wow what an event!
Have you even been to a conference that pimped out the city you were not from, and did it in a way that wasn’t attractive? What did you do?