What is the thinkBIG! Summit?
The thinkBIG! Summit provides a climactic close to the annual thinkBIG! Challenge by providing a platform for the Final Challenge teams to pitch their ideas. The finalists present to a panel of volunteer judges as part of the full-day conference on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.
CEO and Co-Founder of Surf
The Young Entrepreneur
by Swish Goswami & Quinn Underwood
The thinkBIG! Summit kicks off with an inspirational fireside chat featuring Swish Goswami.
Goswami built a multi-hyphenate career by the age of 26. He has started six high-impact ventures across four industries and is currently the CEO and co-founder of Surf, a tech company providing brands with a better way to engage and understand consumers while compensating them for their data. His company has worked with some of the biggest brands, including Netflix, Sony Music, L’Oreal, Electronic Arts, Hewlett Packard, Amazon Prime Gaming, and more. A disruptor, curator, and builder, Goswami explores entrepreneurship, mental health, personal branding, and trends influencing technology and business today.
A four-time TEDx speaker, Goswami is the bestselling author of The Young Entrepreneur and the host of Track Limits, a motorsport podcast that shares inspiring stories from Formula 1 drivers, mechanics/engineers, and team bosses. He is also an investor and advisor to popular social companies, such as FaZe Clan, Wombo AI, Othership, and the League of Innovators, through his angel fund, AGEX.
Goswami was inducted into Plan Canada’s “Top 20 under 20” and Bay Street Bull’s “30 under 30”, recognized as LinkedIn’s Top Voice and Startup Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and awarded the United Nation’s Outstanding Youth Leadership award. Most recently, Goswami was named to The Peak’s 2023 list of emerging leaders, as a young leader helping to shape Canada’s economy, culture, and society.
The fireside chat will be moderated by Alysha L. Ellis, MBA.
Alysha is a serial entrepreneur, ecosystem builder, author, and creator. An award-winning business leader and innovator. In 2016, she launched her first company since then she has invested in community, equity, and inclusion. In 2017, she launched a consulting firm where she aims to partner with diverse field experts to provide innovative solutions with a strong focus in strategic planning. In 2020, she developed Mas LaRae, a multimedia platform aiming to share, connect and inspire through storytelling, uplifting underrepresented voices, and intentional relationship building. Since then she has helped share over 200 stories. Alysha is the lead visionary of IGNITE With Light, a social venture network collaborating with entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators to build equitable opportunities and sustainability. She is also an award-winning business leader and innovator. She is also among the Founders of FutureLAND to transform Cleveland’s innovation and tech ecosystem to be more inclusive and supportive of diverse founders.
Alysha L. Ellis
Founder of Mas LaRae
Educational Engagement Manager of
The City Club of Cleveland
Ariana Smith, Educational Engagement Manager at The City Club of Cleveland, will serve as the emcee of thinkBIG! Summit.
Smith was born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated from Shaker Heights High School. Upon graduation, she attended John Carroll University focusing on entrepreneurship and business management. However, it was the experiences had outside of the “traditional classroom” that truly set her on her professional path. Notably, the ECITY program, dedicated to nurturing youth entrepreneurship, and the Freedom School program, designed to instilling a passion for reading among young minds, both played pivotal roles in shaping her career trajectory.
Over the last 15 years, Smith has taken pride in her role as an educator, focusing primarily on nurturing the intellectual growth of middle and high school students. Her instructional portfolio encompasses a diverse range of subjects such as entrepreneurship, character/leadership development, financial literacy, and career preparedness. Thus far, her work has left a impact on more than 6,000 young minds and the numbers continue to grow.
Currently, Smith serves as the Educational Engagement Manager at The City Club of Cleveland and is a recent graduate of Cleveland Leadership Center’s Bridge Builders program.
2024 thinkBIG! Challenge & Summit Timeline
Entry Deadline: Tuesday – January 16, 2024
Semifinalists Announced: Wednesday – January 31, 2024
Executive Coaching Sessions: Thursday – February 15, 2024
Finalists’ Live Pitch Competition: Tuesday – March 5, 2024
Students attending the 2024 thinkBIG! Summit will participate in our attendee favorite mini-maker hackathon led by the staff at Upcycle Parts Shop. After the keynote presentation, each table of students work as teams to craft physical representations of innovative ideas made from recycled materials and create a short 60-second pitch to describe the concept. Prototypes are brought to the front of the room for judging. Four finalist teams are chosen to pitch their ideas to audience members and panel of judges. Students from the winning team are awarded prizes.
President and Founder of Youth Bee Works
Justin Sofio will help facilitate the Mini-Maker Hackathon.
He is president and founder of Youth Bee Works – a non profit organization that seeks to educate and train the youth on the importance of honeybees in our food systems, pollination and environmental stewardship in general. With a mission focused on honeybee education, Youth Bee Works also partners with individuals, businesses, schools and corporations to set up and maintain beehives. Spreading the awareness of honeybees and their impact on each of us.
Justin lives in Ohio with his wife and four children and enjoys passing on his knowledge and passion for honeybees to the next generation. He is passionate about agriculture in general with the special focus on local food systems that are both sustainable and helping to create local food supply chains that do not break apart with global upheaval. Honeybees play a vital role in having resilient local food supply chains – and so do each of us!
Lexie St. Denis will help facilitate the Mini-Maker Hackathon.
Lexie has been working on local food systems for the past seven years. During her time abroad in Vietnam, Indonesia and Nepal, she became familiar with social enterprises and the importance they can play when addressing food security issues. Lexie has spent time working on multiple regenerative farms where she learned the nuances in our food systems and the challenges small growers face. Additionally, she has worked in Food as Medicine Clinics navigating problem solving approaches to food insecurity within the United States. Lexie takes a multidisciplinary approach to food systems work and believes heavily in the power of stakeholder collaboration. Currently, Lexie is the Local Food Coordinator for Great Lakes Brewing Company, Farm Associate at Frayed Knot Farm, and Bee Keeper at Youth Bee Works. She is also a member of the Cleveland Cuyahoga Food Policy Council.