What do you do if you're a young entrepreneur, frustrated by the fact that you aren't getting invited to any fun, business-networking events? Well, if you're like the founders of the Summit Series, you go out and start your own.
Founded by entrepreneurs Elliot Bisnow, Jeff Rosenthal, Brett Leve, Jeremy Schwartz and Ryan Begelman, the concept for Summit Series started in 2008 with a single conference in Park City, UT. Since then, Summit Series has grown exponentially, playing host to some of the biggest names in business and entertainment, with speakers such as Bill Clinton, Russell Simons, Richard Branson, and Kendrick Lamar.
There are many different networking events around the world, but Summit Series is unique. A merger of experiential learning, TED-style presentations, art and wellness, Summit Series is a hands-on, cross-disciplinary mastermind developed by the Millennial generation.
Today, Summit Series host events all around in the world. This year's scheduled domestic events will take place in Los Angeles and New York. The team also holds international gatherings, which include a Safari trip to Kenya and a 3-day summit in Tulum. Last but not least, Summit Series has ongoing events at Powder Mountain, Utah, a private ski resort the company purchased for 40 million dollars in 2012.
So what do Summit Series events entail, and who gets invited to these exclusive gatherings?
Summit Series events are focused on building a community of like-minded people and allowing those relationships to foster and flourish through shared experiences. Underlying this inspiring, yet slightly vague company focus is the idea of making a positive change in the world.
But you can't just show at these events. To attend, you need to be invited by a current Summit Series member, accepted through an application process, and then cough up a few thousand dollars or more for admission.
While it's difficult to tell from the outside looking in, the value of Summit Series events appears to be a combination of three things. The group's ability to offer talks from top-notch speakers, a powerful and connected network of attendees, and an excuse to party in cool cities, and exclusive destinations alongside this trendy, successful crowd.
So how did five young guys pull this together?
Summit Series didn't grow up overnight. Like many startups, they began humbly, cold-calling individuals they respected in the hopes of wrangling guests for their first ever ski-weekend event. When only a total of 19 people showed up, the founders were not discouraged.
Instead, the guys doubled down and booked a second event paid by credit cards, this time in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The second gathering brought some high-visibility founders from the start-up world, which helped kick-start the Summit Series community and provided a much-needed dose of clout.
Their next big break came when the White House invited Summit Series to produce an event to discuss economic expansion with the Obama administration. Here, the Summit crew succeeded again, bringing entrepreneurs such as Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams.
From these scrappy beginnings, the network grew, and the events continued. Now, ten years into the company's growth, the Summit Series team shows no signs of slowing down.
It's still unclear whether Summit Series is a real driver of social value. Still, whether you believe in their mission or not, this invite-only tribe of entrepreneurs is here to stay.