Ideas Worth Spreading
TEDxDetroit 2011 featured more than a dozen of the best and brightest minds sharing their passion, wisdom and innovations.
Our speaker roster balances left brain and right brain – academics, artists, inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators. Each speaker only has a short block of time to share their positive idea for the world. We find them inspiring. We hope you will too.
Julie Clark, a former English and art teacher from Detroit, started The Baby Einstein Company in her basement. Five years, 30 children’s books, 10 videos, and six music albums later, she sold Baby Einstein to Disney for an undisclosed sum. She recently authored You Are the Best Medicine after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Rob Bliss is a 22 year old creative event organizer from Grand Rapids. He has created the world’s largest pillow fight and zombie walk, launched 100,000 paper airplanes onto a crowd of 30,000 people, built a 500 ft. inflatable water slide in the middle of downtown and created the world’s largest LipDub video.
Christina Keller is Business Unit Leader of Triple Quest, a joint venture between Cascade Engineering, the nation’s largest B-Corporation, and The Windquest Group. This innovative “social business” is focused on producing high quality products for needy communities throughout the developing world.
Bobby Smith used the sport of fencing as his way out of a low-income environment. For the past two years, En Garde Detroit has used fencing to teach over 2,000 kids, sharing lessons and developing well-rounded youth in Detroit. Bobby is passionate about social ventures and inspiring others to seek economic freedom.
Randal Charlton is an entrepreneur, author and leader with a track record of success in commercializing research, biotechnology and economic development. Most recently, he co-founded biotech standout Asterand, which went public in 2007 after ten years of double digit growth. Randal currently serves as the executive director of TechTown.
Dixon is one part concert violinist, one part digital effects master, and one part shaman. He blends his classical training with soulful improvisation skills and the command of a wide range of digital technology to create a captivating one-man show unlike anything you’ve experienced.
The award winning author of the “Who I am” Series, Tara founded TMI, LLC, which promotes diversity and inclusion through books, curriculum, training and consulting. She is a passionate advocate for students and professionals alike, leading several community groups focused on developing the next community thought leaders.
Natasha comes from a family of artists, including painter Georgia O’Keefe. Known for her whimsical landscapes and the popular, award-winning series, “Jeweled Trees”, more than 1,000 of Natasha’s original works hang in private and corporate collections worldwide. She has also been referenced in The New York Time’s Bestseller and Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Crush It.
Matt is the founder of Final Five Productions. With Detroit as his canvas, he is a believer in the idea that passionate work and commerce go hand in hand. Relatively new to the “art as business” world, he’s pretty much making it up as he goes along, and thinks you should too.
Josh is the New York Times Bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming. He’s the CEO Detroit Venture Partners, Founder of ePrize and Adjunct Professor of Applied Creativity at U of M. Together with business partners Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Dan Gilbert, Josh is rebuilding urban areas through technology and entrepreneurship, and he’s on a mission to make the world more creative.
Singer and songwriter Chris Bategate signed with Ann Arbor based Quite Scientific Records in 2007. His most recent full-length release, Salt Year, elicited NPR’s Stephen Thompson to offer, “If Bathgate has mastered one thing in his young and enormously promising career, it’s the art of distilling alienation into bruised-sounding beauty.”
Dr Pruneau is the Director of the Wayne State Planetarium. He carries an active research program on the study of the Quark Gluon Plasma at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland. Dr Pruneau is a member of the American Physical Society, the Canadian Association of Physicists and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Veronika is a designer and entrepreneur creating crazy post apocalyptic gear to help inspire pride within the homeless and help their livelihood. She is the founder of The Empowerment Plan, a company that employs the homeless and the inventor of the Element S, a coat which is self heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night.
Mark is a Co-founder and President of RobotTown – a living laboratory for Robotic Technology in the Detroit area. He has over 20 years experience as a technologist, strategist and manager with a simple focus of removing barriers and getting things done. Robot Town seeks to provide an environment where people can learn, play, test, create, innovate and share knowledge about robotics.
Bob started selling t-shirts from the trunk of his car 22 years ago. Today Cherry Republic sells over 174 cherry products through its website, catalog and four retail outposts. Cherry Republic has given over $750,000 to preserve the environment and quality of life in the woods, farms and communities of the north.
Denise Caston was a Radio City Rockette for 10 years and toured nationally with the Tony Award winning musical, Crazy For You. Her dancing and choreography credits span stage, film, television and commercials. Denise currently directs the Detroit Tap Repertory and produces Motor City Tap Fest.
Dedicated to exploration and expression, Allie seeks to define elements of life and engage with others using multi-faceted terms with texture. She’s an advocate, explorer, filmmaker, speaker, singer and poet who uses multiple mediums to create, tell the stories, share the experiences and connect.
Husband, dad, physician, author of The Art of Roughhousing, and champion for parent-child play. Anthony has appeared on The Today Show, in The New York Times and many other media outlets to advocate for parent-child play. He also frequently speaks to parenting groups and conducts parent-child play events around the country.
Lex Kuhne is a business attorney and writer. He co-founded 89X, hosted on Michigan Talk Radio Network, co-hosted Detroit Public TV’s Backstage Pass and wrote Metro Times’ Word of Mouth column. He lawyers, is an Adjunct Professor at Cooley Law School, hosts onUDetroit.com and develops media projects.
Sebastian is the 9 year old founder of Sebastian’s Gourmet Lemonade. He believes his success comes from keeping it simple, having a great product, being different than his competition and donating back to his community. Sebastian donates 10% of his profits to help a local no-kill animal shelter in his community.
A senior at Wayne State, Charlie studies Social Work to fulfill his life’s passion — helping people. Charlie has taught summer school in Detroit, successfully led a petition drive to demolish 15 abandoned buildings, had an op-ed piece published in the Detroit Free Press and was elected Vice President of the Loving Elementary School Board.
Lin is one of the world’s top experts in Face Reading, an ancient science practiced for 3,000 years, that correlates facial features to character traits with 92% accuracy. She has been lecturing internationally for over 21 years and serves as a business, relationship, poker and jury consultant.
Ted has started several businesses in the last 10 years, including Hatch Detroit, Ballgame Consulting, 4DetroitDudes.com and ContractorKey. He’s also an Account Executive with CareTech Solutions, a Michigan based healthcare IT company. Ted is shining a bright light on all the positive things going on in the City of Detroit.
Jeff was born in Brazil, hit the road at the age of 15, lived abroad and learned 4 languages in the process – and that was just the beginning. His experience spans a wide range of organizations – from Fortune 100 companies to early-stage start-ups – where he led global market development, growth strategy and operations in 20 countries and 7 industries.
Brian lives in Downtown Detroit. He moved home earlier this year after 10 cold summers in San Francisco. He loves to cruise around the city on his bicycle, Sparky. Brian plays defense for Downtown F.C. soccer team and sailed his first Port Huron-Mackinac race this summer. He is an executive at Palo Alto-based tech startup Apigee. He has a physics degree from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.