Tech investor and actor Ashton Kutcher (Center), along with Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler (Far Right) discuss tech and entrepreneurship during Sage Summit.

Sage Summit: Came, Went … Inspired

CHICAGO, IL — Sage Summit was the largest gathering of small and medium businesses in the world. From Tuesday, July 26 to Thursday July 28, entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs alike converged at McCormick Place — located at 2301 South Lake Shore Drive — to get inspired, as well as find relevant vendors for their brands. Monday, July 25 was set apart to focus on Sage accountants and partners. Small businesses got personal through celebrated speakers, business experts, exploring tech innovations, as well as receiving mentoring and participating in peer networking, in-depth education, interactive trainings, Sage certification and off-the-chart experiences.

World renowned champion and former coach of the Chicago Bears Mike Ditka kicked-off the event with a rousing pep talk to get attendees excited about their inspirational week ahead. Ditka, a prime example of branding excellence, offered attendees and VIPs alike pointers on what creates brand excellence, from keeping things simple, having a great brand message to being easy to do business with.

Executive Sage hierarchy steered following un-TED talks accompanied by inspirational videos on Sage company culture, performing social good, as well as their extensive suites of services.

Sage Summit by the numbers

Sage is a multinational enterprise software company offering accounting and payment solutions as a service. A staggering 15,000 people were registered for the nearly week-long summit and an additional 35,000 were registered to view the global summit virtually. Via on-site roll-call, all continents were represented.

In the UK, 53% of businesses currently utilize Sage’s services. South Africa has a 50% market share in being Sage clients, as well as France, according to IDC.

Sage’s strategic pillars

Sage has five strategic pillars when it comes to winning in the marketplace:

1. Winning in the market in building a brand, undermined by trust

2. Retaining customers for life

3. Revolutionizing the industry (perfecting the manufacturing of easy-to-use systems)

4. Having the capacity for growth

5. Being partner-centric

“This is just the beginning,” Sage CEO Stephen Kelly said.

Taking social good global

The social good leg of the Sage Corporation — The Sage Foundation — has established joint partner relationships with a battery of organizations worldwide. From hiring veterans, to supplying financial support to the Invictus games and empowering young girls, Sage looks out for fellow mankind.

Through providing 2% of employee time, 2% of free cash flow and two donated licenses to support eligible registered charities, social enterprises and non-profit organizations, designated organizations get to reap the benefits via food and medical assistance, as well as housing, clean water and supporting girls’ education in impoverished countries. Through Hire Heroes USA, Sage volunteers worldwide partner with various organizations in providing employment mentoring to discharged veterans.

Official kick-off for attendees

Living up to the company’s boast of being the largest gathering of entrepreneurs worldwide, attendees were treated with seven mega-watt celebrity appearances throughout the week.

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group made an appearance, being interviewed by Kelly. Branson told the crowd that even big box entities are no match for a most viable product supported by strategic marketing.

“You can slay any Goliath (large company) if you have a quality product and can successfully differentiate yourself in the market.”

Celebrity influence

Academy award-winning actress and social good entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, along with actress and fellow entrepreneur Zooey Deschanel also made appearances, being interviewed by Sage Group executive hierarchy.

Paltrow and Deschanel shared their respective startup pains and processes in growing goop and HelloGiggles.

Entrepreneurial advice from Sharks

(L-R: Sage Executive Vice President, Product Marketing Jennifer Warawa interviews Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec (Center) and Daymond John (Far Right).

Shark Tank investors Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, along with actor and tech investing mogul Ashton Kutcher and Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler were also interviewed throughout the summit by Sage executive hierarchy.

Herjavec’s and John’s interview by Sage Executive Vice President, Product Marketing Jennifer Warawa is captured here, in which they discussed discovering one’s purpose. They also discussed the importance of having a clear vision and having the right team in place to bring forth said vision.

Kutcher and Strickler discussed what’s next in technology, as well as their outlook on the future of entrepreneurship.

Online and local expertise showcased

Canada-based entrepreneur and author Evan Carmichael (www.evancarmichael.com).

Leading online marketers like entrepreneurial maverick and author Evan Carmichael, Black Enterprise-leading business consultant and The BOSS Network founder Cameka Smith, as well as millennial business expert Chelsea Krost were on-site as guest speakers in the spirit of keeping the inspiration going.

Select local business consultants were on-site leveraging their own brand reach, providing real-time mentoring sessions to attendees.

Live performances

Summit attendees were treated to round-trip shuttle bus transportation to a concert performance by The Killers, held at Soldier Field.

The four-day event concluded with a rousing Blues Brother themed live performance, paying homage to its host city.

Sage Summit concluded with a Blues Brother-themed live performance, paying homage to its host city.

What to expect next year?

Buzz for Sage Summit 2017 is already underway, so stay tuned by following Sage Summit on Twitter. Recapture the experience via the conversation links on Twitter and Instagram.

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