‘Entrepreneurial capital of the world’: Silicon Slopes set to launch 8th tech summit in Salt Lake City
From its humble beginnings in 2017, the yearly Silicon Slopes event has grown into a global powerhouse as Utah’s tech bonafides continue to shine
Utah tech sector outreach and education group Silicon Slopes is geared up and ready to host over 10,000 attendees at its eighth Silicon Slopes Summit at the Delta Center this week with a dynamic agenda featuring local, national and international speakers.
Silicon Slopes CEO Clint Betts said the latest edition, which kicks off Wednesday, “feels like the first real summit, post-COVID,” following several years of event disruptions amid pandemic related-restrictions and the aftermath which posed major challenges for organizers of large, in-person gatherings.
“The energy is super high, the excitement is really high and we’re officially back,” Betts said.
The lineup for the two-day event continues Silicon Slopes’ penchant for attracting top-tier speakers. This time, that includes self-help guru, investor and business strategist Tony Robbins; Netflix founder and executive chairman Reed Hastings (who also, it just so happens, recently became principal owner of Utah ski resort Powder Mountain); actor, producer and comedian Marlan Wayans; ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro: Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone; serial entrepreneur, author and cool-hunter Gary “GaryVee” Vaynerchuk; and many more.
Betts said the reputation, reach and influence of the Silicon Slopes Summit, which has skyrocketed from its humble beginnings in 2017, has made it much easier to draw talent and expertise to the event and particularly so for a nonprofit that relies on volunteer appearances to fill an agenda of wide-ranging topic discussions.
“We’re a nonprofit organization that works to put on a great event,” Betts said. “We couldn’t pay for speakers even if we wanted but this year has been one of the easiest yet to book speakers.
“The summit has grown into a nationally and globally recognized event and the fact that so many are willing to come out and speak to our attendees is a huge testament to the state of Utah.”
Betts is also celebrating the event taking place at the home of the Utah Jazz, downtown’s Delta Center, a venue that was made available for the event, free of charge, thanks to the “good luck of having a friend who owns the building.” That would be, of course, Qualtrics’ co-founder and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, who is also among the group of Utah tech sector notables, including Betts, who helped found the Silicon Slopes group back in the late aughts.
Qualtrics is just one of a slew of Utah tech success stories and even on the backend of a long spell of extreme tech sector challenges, many of which were wrought by pandemic conditions, Betts noted Utah’s tech community is not only thriving, but has ascended to new heights as an epicenter of innovation.
“The tech community hasn’t had a ‘normal’ year since 2019,” Betts said. “Back then, it was widely thought that the money was free, startups were raising capital based on crazy valuations and many believed the party would go on forever.
“Of course, that’s not how it played out and now we’re at a point where entrepreneurs have to build real businesses that are based on solid fundamentals. That’s a huge advantage for our community because Utah has always been good at that.”
Betts believes that the emerging back-to-basics reality check for tech businesses in the U.S. and around the world is only proving to be a further driver of successes for a Utah tech sector that has deep roots and been riding a juggernaut of growth for years.
“Silicon Slopes is the entrepreneurial capital of the world,” Betts said. “There are more entrepreneurs, per capita, coming out of Utah than anywhere else in the world. It’s because Utah entrepreneurs are building real companies with value built on solid principles and that sets the state apart from almost every other place.”
For further details on the Silicon Slopes Summit running Sept. 27-28, including how to attend, visit summit.siliconslopes.com.