e.Builders Forum

When: September 28 - 29, 2017

e.Builders Forum brings together regional entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders for two days of extensive, deep dialogue surrounding advanced critical topics around building entrepreneurial ecosystems in underserved communities.


Where: Innovation Depot, Birmingham, Alabama

The quest for entrepreneurial ecosystem builders in unexpected places

The mission of e.Builders Forum is to challenge the notion that entrepreneurial meccas – like Silicon Valley and Boston – are the only regions capable of supporting innovative companies that drive job creation and economic growth.

The Rise of Emerging Cities and Rural Communities in U.S. & Canada

The annual e.Builders Forum typically takes place in emerging U.S. cities and shines a spotlight on rural and economically disadvantaged areas that are often overshadowed by more prominent entrepreneurial ecosystems and the coastal tech hubs. Meanwhile, rural development is more so than ever linked to entrepreneurship as economic development organizations see entrepreneurship as a key strategic initiative that can significantly accelerate the developmental process. Most importantly, rural entrepreneurship stands as a vehicle that improves the quality of life for individuals, families and communities, and helps to sustain a healthy economy and environment.

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“A big trend we are seeing in the venture capital world is that investors are actively seeking out new pockets of innovation in old economy industries. Imagine revolutionizing farming and feeding the world. Or re-engineering our energy use to stop climate change in its tracks. This kind of industrial-strength disruption means getting out of the comfort zone of the typical innovation hubs in Silicon Valley and New York and into the rest of the country.” – Jeff Harbach, President & CEO of Kauffman Fellows


Birmingham voted #1 city for millennial founders. Who knew?

This year’s e.Builders Forum will be held at Innovation Depot, one of the nation’s largest and most successful incubators located in Birmingham, Alabama. As the epicenter for technology, startups and entrepreneurs in the Appalachian region, Innovation Depot has given entrepreneurs the incredible competitive advantage in attracting customers, talent, mentors, press and funding to grow their businesses.

As of 2016, Innovation Depot has contributed to serving 102 member companies, created 870 jobs and generated $126M in gross sales. Over the past five years, Innovation Depot has generated $1.42 Billion for their region.

Millennials named the “Founders Generation” – The New Yorker

Local youth have unparalleled opportunities to pursue entrepreneurship because the entrepreneurial environment taps into an intrinsic Millennial characteristic – to dream and design. Entrepreneurship support organizations – like incubators, coworking spaces, accelerators and other entrepreneurship programs – have an equally unique opportunity to tap into the “Founders Generation” to help stimulate economic growth and spawn diversity among founders within their communities.

“69% of millennial entrepreneurs say that having a positive economic impact was a factor in their decision to go into business, with 59% saying they wanted to have a positive impact in their community.”– HSBC Private Bank report

This year’s e.Builders Forum is designed to celebrate the Appalachian region with Birmingham’s ecosystem as the focal point and to also provide a platform for advanced ecosystem builders to engage in a deep peer-driven dialogue surrounding advanced regionally-focused topics. The agenda consists of rich programming that addresses critical challenges and strategies for building entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural communities. The first day will feature four half-day workshops that will be led by industry leaders from throughout the Southeastern U.S. region and beyond. Additionally, all four workshop topics will cover the importance of why engaging with the “Founders Generation” is crucial to the success of your ecosystem. The next day, various industry-specific networks will convene in smaller break-out roundtable discussions to discuss critical infrastructure needs, advanced strategies and regional hot topics relevant to the Appalachian region and other rural communities. 

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 Sign up below to learn more about e.Builders Forum!


Thursday: Day 1 (September 28), Workshops

Each workshop is 2.5 hours and provides lecture-style learning as well as group activities with walk-away templates and other helpful roadmaps for your organization.

Participants may select one morning and one afternoon workshop option from the four workshops below. All four workshops will take place concurrently in the morning and again in the afternoon to ensure participants get to attend their top two choices.

Friday: Day 2 (September 29), Round Tables & Regional Hot Topics

On day two of this interactive event, participants will dive into deep conversation during roundtable style discussion sessions focused on regional hot topics and InBIA’s Business Incubation Networks (BINs). Hot topics will focus on pressing concerns advanced industry professionals are facing in the southeastern U.S. and in rural communities, while the Business Incubation Networks will provide sector-specific groups the opportunity to directly connect with peers who are in similarly focused programs. Each discussion session will be led by a dynamic facilitator who has topical expertise.

Download the full agenda

Day 1: Workshop Topics

Keep It Local: How Innovation Depot, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Other Partners Built a Powerful Bridge to Local Large Industry

Learn strategies from Birmingham’s business leaders and entrepreneur support community as to how they successfully deployed a program that encouraged large corporations to first seek out solutions from the city’s local talent.

Marketing Magic: How to Strengthen Your Brand and Differentiate Yourself in the Marketplace

Strengthen your marketing efforts and stand out amongst the competition in your community by learning how to build brand and customer personas, as well as useful tips for how to develop highly strategic brand messaging targeted towards the Millennial demographic.

Motivating Millennials for the Workplace

Find out which types of programs Millennials find most attractive by learning how employers can inspire the Founders Generation throughout the workplace to tap into their natural leadership skills, maintain employee retention, workplace efficiency and creative collaboration.

Robust Ecosystems in Rural Communities: The Success of the Technology Villages Model

After the highly successful launch of over 100 companies in the most rural parts of South Carolina, learn how to replicate Technology Villages’ unique program model that utilized Millennial professionals to propel viable companies forward in the nation’s most rural communities.

Day 2: Regional Hot Topics

Attendees will select three, 1.5-hour sessions from the session grid below that are facilitated by renowned subject matter experts on the topic and/or BIN area. Each session will have dynamic roundtable facilitator, who will capture the conversation regarding programming, talent, and/or infrastructure gaps and successes, then to be disseminated to all attendees soon after the conference concludes. Below are examples of hot topics you can expect at the e.Builders Forum.


This event is expected to sell out quickly.

Join us at Innovation Depot in Birmingham, Alabama, an emerging city leading the charge in building thriving rural entrepreneurial ecosystems!

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Travel & accommodations

Conference Venue & Address

The event will take place at Innovation Depot, one of the nation’s largest and most successful incubators in the country. Innovation Depot is located at: 1500 First Avenue North, Birmingham, AL. 35203. Follow all of their signs for overflow parking. Parking is limited.


We recommend that all attendees make reservations at the Westin Birmingham located at: 2221 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL. 35203. The hotel is 1.4 miles from Innovation Depot, and the cost of a one-way UberX averages $6.09.

InBIA’s group rate is $169 a room/per night (plus tax). The group rate is available until September 13, 2017 and is subject to availability. Click here to book your hotel room!


InBIA has partnered with Delta Air Lines to provide discounted rates to/from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

The discount code is NMQEZ.

Click here to book online. Be sure to enter the discount code into the box marked “Meeting Event Code.”