Bits & Pretzels 2019 Wrap-Up

Three days. 100+ speakers. TONS of learnings. Bits & Pretzels 2019 was a major success!


We learned so much.

From one of the world’s best and most influential politicians, to a majorly successful Hollywood actress turned entrepreneur, to one of the founders of snowboarding. Bits & Pretzels did not disappoint in terms of depth and variety of speakers and leaders.

I was lucky enough to attend many different talks, and tried to take 3-4 important insights away from each one. Sharing is caring, and for those of you who were not able to attend, here is what I got out of each speaker I had the privilege of listening to:


Barack Obama - 44th President of the United States of America

  1. Requirements for innovation: strong universities with research departments, investment from the government, access to capital, & societies that invest in their children.
  2. If you were to choose a period in history to be alive - it would always be in today’s world. Although times are tough and we still struggle, today we are smarter, healthier, less violent, more collaborative, and understand each other better than ever before in the history of mankind.
  3. “You’re a very educated audience - I don’t have to convince you that the climate crisis is real.” We need to use technology and collective action to unite against this issue!
  4. To all male founders & leaders - “Use your ears, not just your mouth, you could learn something.”


Drew Houston - Founder of Dropbox

  1. Computers will be able to do more of the planning and prioritizing for us.
  2. We are getting held back by our tools. (hello!! this is where Ciara comes right into play)
  3. “I don’t understand why we‘re using all these different apps that are not working together.” (again, Ciara is aiming to solve this exact issue).
  4. Let’s get people back to using their brains at work!


Judith Gerlach - Bavarian Land Minister for Digital

  1. “You can‘t only name digital assistants - Siri or Alexa - after #women. I want to see them being developed by women.” #womenpower


David Limp - Amazon SVP for Devices and Services

  1. Over the next 5-10 years, digital assistants will be more conversational. To do that, you have to mimic all the great things about human beings (like opinions).
  2. Customers are divinely discontent - you always want more!
  3. Always work backwards from the customer, then write down what you want to invent, even though it does not exist.


Donna Carpenter - Founder & CEO of Burton Snowboards

  1. Passion without purpose is meaningless. It’s an empty promise.
  2. Having a teenager attitude when building a company can be a great thing - you learn that when someone tells you “no” to dig your heels in even deeper to prove them wrong.
  3. Being an entrepreneur is like snowboarding. You have beautiful, bluebird days, and then other days you have total whiteouts, and can’t tell which direction you are moving in.
  4. How do you create a “family” in company culture? Put them through hell, and when you come out the other side: you are a family.


Jessica Alba - Founder of the Honest Company

  1. Invest in diversity. It’s a better business model!
  2. The difference is in the details. Each one matters and adds up to your whole brand and what makes you not just another copycat.
  3. Have relentless optimism & drive. Figure out a way to make the impossible happen.
  4. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. If you don’t know how to do something, hire someone who does and can teach you.


So, as you can see, these were just a small handful of insights that were shared over the three days at Bits & Pretzels, but some of the most impactful. The theme of the conference was in fact “impact,” and I for sure felt it!


Overall thoughts for Ciara.

One thing the whole Ciara team took away from talking to many founders, startup employees, and investors at this conference was that there is a need for what we are doing. So many startups are beginning to hire and really ramp up their salesforce, and are in dire need of a way to get their new hires trained and onboarded as quickly as possible. Ciara enables this by immediately providing teams with a way to get their reps on the phone with personalized talk tracks and super natural note-taking.

We are excited to continue developing Ciara into the perfect personal digital assistant that helps you have all-in-one conversations!



Published 1 month ago.

3 minute read.

Author:
Kourtney Kirton


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