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Conversation with Steve Bertoni: Vice President & Senior Editor of the Forbes Under 30 Franchise

Forbes under 30 summit 2018

 Forbes Under 30 Music Festival 2017

1) What are some things to look forward to at this year’s event compared to the previous years?

This is the first year we’re offering industry-specific content tracks, which I’m excited about. The Summit is designed to create immersive experiences for the world’s top community of young leaders and entrepreneurs, and now for the first time we’re offering opportunities to really hone in on the subject matter attendees are the most interested in.

We’ve broken it down into 24 tight-knit communities, comprised of attendees and speakers with similar interests, with tracks on everything from cybersecurity to sports, and from venture capital to consumer tech. These content tracks will be led by 200+ speakers who are true experts in their fields, and not afraid to go in-the-weeds and tackle the emerging topics. For example, in the crypto content track, we’re offering a panel on how to fix cryptocurrency’s broken reputation, and we’re hosting experts like Meltem Demirors, CSO at CoinShares, to discuss who has the right to print money as we look towards the future of crypto.

This year we’re also building out our [email protected] Under 30 event even further to be a day focused on tough discussions, real solutions and actionable advice. The event is in line with Forbes mission to help every woman take a next step forward, and we’re so excited to present this opportunity to learn and engage with women who are paving the way for younger generations. This event will convene 500 top millennial women leaders, like Whitney Wolfe Herd and Yvonne Orji, committed to tackling issues of diversity in the startup community.

I’ve always loved the Under 30 Summit because of its ideal combination of venerable business leaders with the next generation of rising innovators. This year will be no different in that respect, and that’s a good thing.

2) Tell me about the app that will be launching specifically for the summit?

We’re thrilled to be offering an app specific to the Under 30 Summit. We are working with PixMob and using their Klik product, a light-able wearable device that is attached to an event app. The wearable Klik buttons and app will enhance the event with light shows, and attendees can click their devices to exchange contact information, plan meetings according to their interests and industries, participate in games, RSVP to events, provide feedback on sessions and much more.

3) Walk us through the specific Content/Community Tracks for the summit this year. We are excited to hear especially about the STEM tracks?

When it comes to STEM, there’s a lot to dig into there, so we’re offering a few different tracks, including Science, Manufacturing & Robots, Green Tech and more. I’m particularly looking forward to the Science sessions, as there’s been so much activity and progress in that area in recent months. We have experts like Natalie Panek, Aeospace Engineer at MDA, lined up to speak, who can discuss the “final frontier” from personal experience – she’s worked on a number of space exploration projects, including ESA’s 2020 ExoMars rover program.

The goal of the specific community tracks is to empower attendees to “join their tribe,” and attend sessions that align with their passions while networking with fellow leaders in the same field. This year, we’re also consolidating the physical radius of the Summit, with all industry talk-tracks taking place in what we’re calling “The Under 30 Village” in City Hall Plaza. It will be easier than ever before to spread ideas and build cross-industry relationships on-site, as attendees are more than welcome to bounce between content tracks too.

4) Who do you think your audience might be excited about having as a speaker?

We are thrilled to be bringing Boston another stellar line up this year, with some immediately recognizable names across industries, including Adam Rippon, Olympic Athlete; Sara Blakely, Founder & CEO of Spanx; Steve Case, Chairman of The Case Foundation and Cofounder of AOL; Jennifer Hyman, Co-Founder & CEO of Rent the Runway; Hozier, Singer-Songwriter; Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder & CEO of Bumble, and many more.

Joining our political track, we’re excited to welcome former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator John Kerry, and Former White House Communications Director and Founder of SkyBridge Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci has a session lined up titled “Morning with the Mooch,” where he’ll talk business and politics, while providing a unique view into what’s really going on inside the Trump White House. As a controversial figure, he’s sure to drive many debates – so make sure this session is on your calendar. We’re also planning a discussion about the “Future of the Republican Party” with John Kasich, Gov. of Ohio, and Jeff Flake, US Senator for Arizona, so politically charged conversations will certainly be on tap at the Summit.

One of our feature events every year is the Under 30 Music Festival, so we’ll see some exciting performances as well. World renowned DJ / producer Marshmello is headlining the event, coming off of his recent major hits like the summer smash “FRIENDS” with Anne-Marie, which peaked at #2 on the Pop radio charts and his more recent hit single “Happier.” He’ll be joined by Platinum recording artist and producer Russ, and beatboxer Butterscotch.

The full list of speakers is available here – including investors, celebrities, musicians, sports stars, cultural icons, world-renowned chefs and political and business leaders, all of whom represent the entrepreneurial spirit the Summit is all about.

5) Also, who are you most excited to have as a speaker this year?

Personally, I’m the most excited about the one-on-one talk between Spanx’s Sara Blakely and Rent the Runway’s Jennifer Hyman. Forget starting a new company – these two are maverick entrepreneurs who not only built incredible businesses, but also created entirely new industries and business models. Both Blakely and Hyman changed the direction of fashion and retail forever, and I’m looking forward to hearing their success story and tips for true disruption.

6) How do you think being a list maker has help shaped these young trailblazers?

When we’re selecting the honorees each year, we’re looking for real disruptors – only the boldest young founders, creators and thinkers make the cut. The competition gets fiercer each year, currently the acceptance rate is below 4 percent. As trailblazers, many of these young leaders and entrepreneurs are already well-known within their industry. But being named to the Forbes Under 30 list is, for many, an introduction to the world stage.

Many of our past nominees have noted that being named to the list opened doors for them, helped them network with individuals who might not otherwise have known their accomplishments in a specific field. Plus, the Under 30 community is incredibly active and dynamic, it’s a group that helps each other out. It’s an impressive club, with decision-making power – past honorees include Spotify’s Daniel Ek, musician Kendrick Lamar, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Glossier’s Emily Weiss, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, to name a few.

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