The Unofficial Guide to the 2016 ASU GSV Summit

Amanda Cunningham
Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 1:15pm

The annual ASU GSV Summit  will be here next week. What began eight years ago as a modest event put on by Arizona State University and GSV Capital, an investment firm, to enable investors to hear presentations from about 50 education start-ups has transformed into a central showcase for investors and companies scouting the next big thing in education technology.

This year, the 2016 ASU GSV Summit will take place April 18–20 in San Diego, California. The conference features a number of high profile presenters, including Bill Gates and Dr. Condoleezza Rice, speaking on the innovations in education and encouraging all who attend to continue to positively revolutionize the education field.

In its short history, the ASU GSV conference has acquired a reputation as the meet-cute spot for ed tech investors and executives seeking to develop relationships with start-ups that could lead to acquisitions.

If you haven’t signed up yet, register soon! There will be an estimated 3,200 attendees. If you are already planning to attend, we have put together an unofficial guide with five things you should do before and during the conference.

1. Make a List of Who You Want to Meet and RESEARCH Them

The major point of going to many conferences is the chance to meet colleagues, speakers, investors, or presenters whom you follow, engage with, and who influence you. Don’t be nervous about introducing yourself to them because they want to meet you as well to hear new ideas, learn about new products, and get your feedback on their presentation.

Once you make a list of people to meet, do your research on their background and current activity, and visit their blogs, websites, and social accounts to learn basically anything and everything about them that could be useful in creating a good conversation. This extra legwork will help you turn personal, insightful conversations into connections.

*When you meet the people on your list, make sure to give them your business card!*

2. Plan the Sessions You Want to Attend

A day before the event, take some time to go over the agenda. Make sure to circle all the sessions that you find interesting. If you find yourself with two or more circled sessions occurring at the same time, flag the one you want to go to first.

Once the conference starts, go to the first session you’ve marked, but plan on leaving 15 minutes into that session if you’re bored. Chances are it won’t become more interesting. Then check out your second session choice.

If you run out of sessions that interest you, head over to the trade show area. During sessions is a good time to introduce yourself to the various people manning the different booths and to use your networking skills.  

An example session that might be of interest to you is “Catching Waves: School and District Leaders Highlight a Unique Success II” that takes place Tuesday from 4–5 PM in Grand Hall D. Tres Tyvand, a FuelEd client and one of the session’s presenters, will talk about her success with massive implementation of blended learning in her district of Bend-La Pine, Oregon, to more than 17,000 students in grades K–12. She will share how Bend-La Pine students enrolled in online courses have a 92 percent pass rate and increased graduation rates through “senior saves.” Students now have access to world-class content and an expansive catalog that includes more AP®, world language, and elective courses.

3. Attend Some Demo Sessions

Each person or team usually gets ten minutes or so to demo a specific educational product or tool. This can be fun to actually watch and play with so that you can judge for yourself how impactful, innovative, or user-friendly something is. If there are booths with demos, then you can meander around to really find products, tools, and ideas that interest you.

Fuel Education will be making demos available in the Fuel Education Teachers’ Lounge from 8 AM–6 PM on Monday and Tuesday, and 8 AM–5 PM on Wednesday. Look for the FuelEd Teachers’ Lounge on the main floor outside Ballrooms A, B, C, and D. 

The FuelEd Teachers’ Lounge is also a place where you can come to relax or reenergize during conference sessions, network with other attendees, and meet some FuelEd staff. You’ll have the opportunity to network with education pioneers like Tres Tyvand from Bend-La Pine District and others education leaders from schools and districts like Springs Studio and PSD Global Academy.  

The Fuel Education Teachers’ Lounge will look something like pictured below:

4. Share Your Trip and Socialize!

Using #asugsvsummit on Twitter, you can follow trends and find others who are talking about the event. It’s a great way to connect with people before the event and join in on discussions that are happening in real time!

Take pictures to show your journey and what you are learning at the summit. Share what interests you—because if it’s interesting to you then it’s interesting to others too. This is a great way to connect with your peers.

You can also call out other attendees and engage with them by bringing them into the conversation. Hashtag any sponsors, investors, speakers, principals, etc., who you want to engage with to show you are willing to go the extra mile to make a personal connection. Make sure to include the handle for the summit @asugsvssummit.

Don’t forget to use the afterhours events to socialize with other attendees. When 4:30 or 5 PM come around, everybody will be thinking about where they’re going to go to dinner, and who they’re going to eat with. Try to set up a plan for yourself early in the day, and ask people you talk with what their plans are. Often they’ll say that don’t have any, which is your ticket to make plans with them.

5. Follow Up

One of the most important steps to leaving a lasting impression is often forgotten. You worked hard at the summit to network and give your elevator speech, but what happens when you go back home? Connect with them immediately on LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other social media they use. Be sure to include a message about where you met them and what you talked about. With the connection established, you’ll be able to reach out later on for something specific.

The ASU GSV Summit promises to be a great place to learn about the latest in educational technology. Be prepared, have fun, make awesome impressions, enhance relationships and create new ones. We hope to see you in San Diego!

BONUS Tip: Take Advantage of Your Trip!

Explore San Diego and really take advantage of your work trip with adventures less than ten minutes away!

  • The San Diego Zoo showcases more than 3,700 animals from around the world. 
  • Balboa Park is 1,200-acre jewel with fifteen museums; a serene garden; venues throughout the park where you can watch dancers, actors, and musicians perform; and much more.
  • Enjoy the San Diego beaches.
  • Find dinner, shopping, and entertainment at Seaport Village.
  • Take a hiking excursion.

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