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2017 Founders Festival Program Announcement

At 2017 Kickoff Event, Tom Tom Founders Festival Recognizes Outstanding Virginia-based Sponsors, Highlights Festival’s Growing Roster of National-level Events  

Six-year-old festival of innovation garners renewed support from University of Virginia partners; emerging national profile earns its selection as signature event by Commonwealth of Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration

Charlottesville, VA—The Tom Tom Founders Festival, a one-of-a-kind weeklong celebration of the power of innovation, entrepreneurship, and community, convened friends and key stakeholders at Charlottesville’s Old Metropolitan Hall to acknowledge the critical contributions of its Virginia-based partners and discuss the growing national relevance of its wide-ranging innovation-focused programming.

“We are incredibly grateful to our state and local sponsors not only for their generous financial support, but also for their unwavering commitment to the Festival’s belief that great ideas, enacted, can help make the Charlottesville community—and communities around the country—centers of positivity, progress, and empowerment,” said Festival founder and director Paul Beyer. “Tom Tom is honored to continue its partnership with the University of Virginia’s Batten Institute for entrepreneurship and innovation at the Darden School of Business, as well as to have been chosen by the 2019 Commemoration as one of a select group of Virginia events worthy of national promotion.”

The 2019 Commemoration—the Commonwealth-designated organization dedicated to promoting 400 years of Virginia’s contributions to the core American ideals of democracy, diversity, and opportunity—is a Founding Partner of the Tom Tom Festival, as are the i.Lab, a UVA-wide resource advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, and Charlottesville, VA-based philanthropic group, Quantitative Foundation.

Bigger, Better

Beyer said the support of Tom Tom’s more than 50 outstanding partners, at all levels, has been critical to the Festival’s remarkable regional success (in five years, Festival attendance has more than quadrupled, surpassing 38,000 in 2016) and continued ascent to national prominence.

“Thanks to the support of our partners throughout the community, region, and state, the 2017 Tom Tom Founders Festival, to be held this April 10-16, promises to offer our best-yet display of the incredible power of innovation at all levels—not only in business and technology, but also in local food, music, art and leadership,” Beyer said.

National Summits, National Audience

This year’s Festival will feature three high-impact summits featuring leading change-makers from throughout the country:

  1. Founders Summit: An outstanding group of the nation’s most influential innovators come together for three powerful days of stories, workshops, mixers, and meetings. Speakers include:

  2. Kim Jordan, cofounder of New Belgium Brewing Company, turned a background in social work and a basement-based brewery into the nation’s eighth-largest brewer and an employee-owned sustainability superstar.

  3. Dave McClure, founding partner at 500 Startups, built a global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley with over $300 million in committed capital across four main funds and thirteen micro funds. They’ve  invested in 1,600 technology startups all over the world.

  4. Mike Porath, founder and CEO of The Mighty, created a digital platform that connects over 4,500 contributors with more than 100,000,000 readers per month, building a media brand and community for those facing disabilities, disease, and mental health issues.

  5. Ting Xu, cofounder of Evergreen Enterprises and CEO of Plow and Hearth, emigrated from Communist China in 1986 and started sewing garden flags in her garage to sell at the Virginia State Fair. In 1993 she cofounded Richmond-based Evergreen Enterprises, which today employs more than 1,300 workers around the globe and generates over $300 million in annual revenue.

  1. All-new Hometown Summit: Featuring three days of keynote speeches, workshops, and interactive panel discussions, the Hometown Summit will convene hundreds of urbanism experts and civic leaders to discuss the role of small cities in the new innovation economy. An initial list of 80+ speakers can be found here; key presenters include:

  2. Andy Berke, Mayor of Chattanooga, is much lauded for establishing the first Innovation District in a mid-sized city and for his leadership in making Chattanooga’s streets safer, growing middle class jobs, and focusing on early learning — all while using taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively.

  3. Laura Weidman Powers, cofounder and CEO of CODE2040, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that creates pathways to success in the innovation economy for African Americans and Latinos.

  1. Youth Summit: Enthusiastic students, educators, and civic leaders share the wisdom of their experiences—and help budding innovators prepare to tackle a range of challenges.

Community Focus

In keeping with tradition, the 2017 Festival will also feature an array of locally oriented events designed to showcase the strength, vibrancy and diversity of the Charlottesville community, as well as to ignite the creative potential of communities across the country. This year’s events include:

  1. Farm to Table Restaurant Week: Charlottesville’s best chefs create a week of outstanding locally-sourced and -inspired menus.

  2. Block Parties: Tom Tom serves up three days of top-notch homegrown beer, bands, art, and food-truck cuisine at these free open-air events.

  3. City as Canvas: Resident artists—and artists-in-residence—team up to transform Charlottesville’s public places into community spaces.

  4. Future Forum: An inspiring group of visionary local leaders discuss what lies ahead for Charlottesville’s creative economy.

  5. Porchella: Hometown musicians perform live on front porches throughout one of Charlottesville’s favorite neighborhoods.

“The 2019 Commemoration is pleased to partner with Tom Tom Founders Festival,” said 2019 Commemoration Executive Director Kathy Spangler. “The Commemoration will promote democracy, diversity and opportunity, themes which were forged in 1619 Virginia and have been shaping America ever since. We look forward to working with the Tom Tom Founders Festival to amplify 400 years of Virginia entrepreneurship and innovation as part of the American Evolution signature events over the next three years.”

“The Batten Institute at UVA’s Darden School of Business is pleased to partner with the Tom Tom Founders Festival to bring together world-class thought leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs to the Charlottesville and UVA communities,” said Erika Herz, Director of Research and Intellectual Capital at the Batten Institute at UVA’s Darden School of Business. “Innovation often occurs at the intersection of ideas, disciplines and viewpoints, and we look forward to working with the Tom Tom Festival to foster creativity and knowledge creation around entrepreneurship and innovation. Tom Tom’s impressive growth and national reach reflect its unique and highly compelling impact, and we look forward to another outstanding year working together.”


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