Robots and AI in a festival setting

Where else can you party with leading minds, get hands-on with robots and experience the cutting edge of technology?

What it is

The Think Big Festival is an annual event that educates and empowers entrepreneurs by focusing on the speed at which technology is moving and our role in its progression. August 26th & 27th, 2016 will highlight the field of robotics and host brilliant minds from Microsoft, Boeing, Johns Hopkins APL, and more in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Mixing together a beautiful lake town, thought provoking speakers, live startup pitch sessions, drones, autonomous vehicles, robots, tech parties around town, and innovative minds like yourself is the perfect formula for a professional– and personal– experience you won’t want to miss this summer!

A private think tank to change the world

Summit is a private event for leaders of thought from centers of robotics, AI and innovation including UCLA, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Microsoft, Qualcomm Ventures, Boeing, Tesla, NextIT and founders of fantastic startups like Harbrick, Aquaai and Liquid Robotics who are changing the world.

Summit is an annual think tank providing social, economic, and ethical guidance to the world regarding the robotics revolution. Large and small group exercises will guide us in defining the questions we must answer and sharing hypotheses for ourselves and others to research.

All of this in some of the most incredible settings on earth!

Working experts who inspire

The day kicks off at the Schuler Performing Arts Auditorium on the scenic North Idaho College Campus. Come prepared to stretch your mind as an innovator, entrepreneur, scientist or tech addict. You will participate in discussions about mind controlled flight, self driving cars and more… the future is here and you have a front row seat. Be sure to snag a test drive in a Tesla P85D… in semi autonomous mode!

Topics include:

  • Robo Health
  • Robo Ethics
  • Robo Money
  • Robo People
Hands on with real tech

Who wants to ride in a self driving car?
Fly a drone? Operate an underwater robot? Drive the worlds fastest sedan?
Wear an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset? Play with a 3D Printer?

The Robotics Experience day will give you the opportunity to get up close and personal with real robots, autonomous vehicles, drones and more!





2016 Speakers

Meet our most valued speakers

Peter Diamandis

Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space. In 2014 he was named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” – by Fortune Magazine.

In the field of Innovation, Diamandis is Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight.

Diamandis is also the Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that studies exponentially growing technologies, their ability to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges.

In the field of commercial space, Diamandis is Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and prospecting of asteroid for precious materials. He is also the Co-Founder of Space Adventures and Zero-Gravity Corporation.
Diamandis’ mission is to open the space frontier for humanity. His personal motto is: “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”

Stan Swearingen

SVP & Chief Technology Officer at Atmel Corporation

Mr. Swearingen most recently served as Senior Vice President & General Manager MaxTouch Business Unit and Chief Technology Officer of Atmel, where he drove the overall technology strategy and direction for the company. Previously, Stan served as CTO and Senior Vice President of Advanced Development for Synaptics, he was instrumental in the formulation of the biometric fingerprint strategy, including the acquisition of Validity. Prior to Synaptics, Stan served as a member of the Office of the President at MiniCircuits where he was responsible for strategy and corporate development. From 2004 to 2008, he was the Vice President & General Manager of the Linear Products business unit at Skyworks Solutions, Inc., and from 2000 to 2004, Stan served as Vice President and General Manager of Agere Systems Computing Connectivity division.  Stan has also served as CEO of Quantex Microsystems.

Burt Rutan

Aerospace Pioneer and First XPrize Winner

Named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Inc. Magazine and described by Newsweek as “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer,” Burt Rutan is a bold entrepreneur and designer with the vision and passion for the advancement of technology.

In 2004 Rutan made international headlines as the designer of SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately-built manned spacecraft to reach space. Financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize, the competition created to spur the development of affordable space tourism.

Amish Patel

Chief Product Officer/Co-Foudner, Katalyst

As the former Director of Experience Engineering & Design for Microsoft, and now at Katalyst, Amish is bringing the power of intelligent hardware, powerful software and the unique sciences of the human body together to create a new way to enhance the human fitness experience.

Chris Dancy

The Most Connected Human on Earth

Featured in Wired, Mashable, TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal, and Businessweek. Interviewed by NPR, the BBC, and Fox News. Purveyor of TED talks. Subject of TED talks. And now headlined by Showtime’s Dark Net.

Chris Dancy is touted as “the Most Connected Man on Earth,” and the world is watching those connections carefully. For 25 years, Dancy has served in leadership within the technology and healthcare industries, specializing in the intersection of the two. Chris entered the public dialog concerning digital health as the media started to focus on wearable technology. He earned his moniker by utilizing up to 700 sensors, devices, applications, and services to track, analyze, and optimize his life–from his calorie intake to his spiritual well-being. This quantification enables him to see the connections of otherwise invisible data, resulting in dramatic upgrades to his health, productivity, and quality of life.

Julian Guthrie


What do Peter Diamandis, Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, Erik Lindbergh, John Carmack, Richard Branson, and Anousheh Ansari have in common? Courage. A love of space. A willingness to take huge risks. And a push to innovate. Julian writes about these individuals and more in her new book which details the story of the private race to space, which made history and launched an industry. Julian grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight, with a foreword by Richard Branson and an afterword by Stephen Hawking (Random House Sept. 2016).

Erik Benson

Partner, Voyager Capital

Erik focuses on market-changing technologies and disruptive business models, concentrating his efforts on working with seed- and early-stage companies based in the Pacific Northwest.

Erik currently represents Voyager on the board of directors of Act-On Software, Anova Data, Chirpify, Lighter Capital, Lytics, Rio SEO, SheerID, Shiftboard and SkyWard. Erik was previously responsible for Voyager’s investments in aQuantive (acquired by Microsoft), Blue Box (acquired by IBM), Capital Stream (acquired by HCL Technologies), Covario (acquired by Dentsu Aegis), Elemental Technologies (acquired by Amazon Web Services), Geoloqi (acquired by ESRI) and Kryptiq (acquired by Surescripts).

Prior to Voyager, Erik was a seed investor for Seattle-based WRF Capital after holding leadership roles at Mimix Inc., a pioneer in the area of motion capture and animation software. Erik started his career in New York for a predecessor bank to JPMorgan Chase, advising and financing private equity clients.

Dahlton Grover

Director of Business Development at PCS Edventures and Thrust-UAV

As the Director of Business Development at PCS Edventures and Thrust-UAV, Dahlton has an evident passion for future technologies–particularly how they pertain to the K-12 STEM education market. Robotics, VR, CAD, drones and more fill her world as she works to bring these relevant fields to students across the globe. Most recently, she has been largely involved in the creation and dissemination of high school level drone curriculum that will revolutionize how pilots are taught for future careers in UAV aviation. Dahlton believes that sparking insight and curiosity in young students will give rise to infinite technological innovation.

Stefan Weitz

Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Radial

“The technologies and companies that drove eCommerce to 7% of the overall retail market can’t be the same for the remaining 93%. The system literally can’t scale. We must rethink what eCommerce really means in an age where saying you’re “going shopping” increasingly sounds as odd as you’re “going online.” Being able to summon what one wants, when and how one wants it, is expected by tomorrow’s consumers. Our opportunity is to turn that resulting complexity into a competitive advantage for our customers.”

Stefan is responsible for leading the planning and execution of the overall corporate strategy, including defining Radial’s portfolio of global products, product marketing, and inventing technologies to deliver the industry’s best post-click commerce solutions. Prior to joining Radial, Stefan spent 17 years at Microsoft where he served in key engineering and strategic roles to help turn whitespace opportunities into viable business lines. He most recently was one of the founding members of the Bing search engine, helping to drive that product to 30% of search market share and billions in revenue. He began in eCommerce at Microsoft with the acquisition of eShop in 1997. Stefan holds a half-dozen patents in various disciplines and is a frequent lecturer to industry and academic groups on the future of data, information storage, retrieval, and usage. He recently published his thoughts in the international best-selling book, Search: How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter. He holds master’s degrees in political science and physics from Gonzaga University.

Bjorn Woltermann

Co-Founder and CEO, Katalyst, Inc.

Björn Woltermann has 15 years of experience in innovation and executive management regarding start-ups as well as large enterprise environments and loves to build bridges between people, cultures and industries. Björn’s current mission is to empower people to get into shape and stay healthy combining technologies from various fields in a new way.

Ashley Llorens

Chief, Intelligent Systems Center @ Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Mr. Ashley J. Llorens is the Chief of the Intelligent Systems Center (ISC) at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). As ISC Chief, Mr. Llorens leads research and development activities in machine learning, robotic and autonomous systems and applied neuroscience towards addressing the nation’s most critical challenges from defense to health. During his 15 years at APL, Mr. Llorens has led technical teams in applying machine learning to advance autonomous sensing capabilities for the U.S. Armed Services and has served as an advisor to the Defense Science Board. Ashley is also a successful hip hop artist and voting member of the Grammys with music featured on TV and in films.

Ross Finman

Robotics Enthusiast / Entrepreneur / PhD student at MIT / Traveler

A rocket enthusiast since childhood, the energetic Finman admits to taking a few college-level courses at both Harvard and Johns Hopkins when he was only 16!

Ross Finman is a Ph.D. Student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research is focused on the intersection of computer vision and robotic mapping applications by using theory developed for the former in the new data domain of the latter.

Josh Hartung

Co-Founder & CEO PolySync

Through a combination of calamity, determination, and luck (probably in that order) I co-founded PolySync; a startup that is changing the way that companies develop self-driving car technology. Josh currently resides in Portland, OR.

Roberto Aiello

Managing Director, Itron Idea Labs

Dr. Aiello is Managing Director of Itron Idea Labs, is tasked with accelerating innovation, and Internet of Things. His previous experience includes managing wireless research at Interval Research, Paul Allen’s technology incubator and technology transfer at Disney Research. He is an advisor to Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) and is a Lean Startup expert who serves as a mentor at the Cleantech Open and Startup Weekend. Dr. Aiello also founded two venture-funded, wireless semiconductor companies and one web/mobile company. Dr. Aiello worked as a Physicist at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Superconducting Super Collider.

Gray Bright

Founder of IO LAB / Host of The Tomorrow Show / InnovationX at JM

An electronics business specialist, with 15+ years experience in product development, buying & marketing, operations and management at international retailers and innovative start-ups. Strong technical background (Robotic and Mechatronic Engineering), coupled with ability to successfully work with senior management. Proven record for increasing sales and financial performance of category/product. Highly creative and innovative (recipient of visionary award), with genuine passion for technology.

Garen Moreno

Director, Strategic Partnering, BMW Group Designworks

Garen is a business development expert for the design industry who has been fortunate to spend his career doing what he loves most: helping leading brands of the world create remarkable experiences.

Leveraging his global perspective on customer experience and environmental design, Garen has now turned his attention towards premium mobility. At BMW Group Designworks Garen is Director, Strategic Partnering and leads the development of engagements for the mobility sector. Garen has procured and managed successful programmes for leading commercial aviation brands, as well as global airframe manufacturing leaders focusing on envisioning and creating the in-flight experience of the future.

JD Claridge

CEO/Co-Founder, xCraft

JD Claridge is the CEO and co-founder of xCraft, a leading drone company developing innovative vehicles for the UAV market. JD was born with a passion for flight. Building and crashing flying toys throughout his youth taught him much about the science and art of flight vehicle design. He once built a (mostly) functional hang glider at the age of 7 and convinced his best friend to test fly it.

Lew Strachman

Co-Founder, NovaWake Studios

Lew Strachman is a serial entrepreneur who has solved problems no one else could figure out. From quartz-crystal plating, to making the first digital angiogram, Lew has engineered cutting-edge technology and constructed strategies to find those who love the product. NovaWake Studios is currently developing virtual reality software for the consumer market. The company recently put Spokane on the map, opening one of the first virtual reality theaters in the United States, and is producing a series of virtual reality releases for the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive Headsets.

Allan Martinson

Chief Operating Officer, Starship Technologies

Allan Martinson runs business and operations of Starship Technologies, a technology company revolutionising last-mile delivery of goods. His responsibilities include business strategy of the company, sales, operations, marketing and public affairs.

In the past, Allan has been the founder and/or CEO of the largest internet & high-tech success stories in the Baltic states:
– Baltic News Service (dominant news agency in the region – founder & CEO)
– MicroLink (the largest Baltic IT and technology group – CEO)
– Delfi (the largest portal in the Baltics, co-founder – Chairman)
– SAF Tehnika (the first listed technology company in the Baltics)
– MTVP (the pioneering technology investment company in the region – founder)

Jim Fowler

CEO and Founder, Owler

Jim Fowler is the Founder and CEO of Owler (formerly InfoArmy), which is a free online and mobile source of business information that provides noise-free news alerts and company profiles. Prior to Owler Jim was the founder and CEO of Jigsaw, a crowd-sourced business contact data site which billed itself as the most complete and up-to-date site of it’s kind.

Barb Meuller

Administrator at Gizmo-CDA, Inc

Barb is the Administrator at Gizmo-cda. Gizmo-cda is Coeur d’ Alene’s Makerspace, a place where art, design, technology and tools are connected by the hands and minds of the people of this community. Mentors and members work side by side in discovering expanding possibilities. Courageous use of resources by all ages and skill levels create a place where transformative learning takes place. Gizmo is guided by the curiosity and vitality of the makers of Coeur d’Alene. Tools you have always wanted are there to give birth to the ideas that you have always had! Think Bold be part of Gizmo-cda and become a gizmologist!

Beth Brubaker

Project Coordinator and Schoolwide Enrichment Specialist, North Idaho STEM Charter Academy

Beth wears several different “hats” here at the North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, including Project Coordinator and Schoolwide EnrichmentSpecialist. Her background includes a Masters’ Degree in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut and over 20 years of experience in the field of gifted education. She has coached FIRST Lego League teams for over five years, one team which was selected as one of only six teams in the world to attend the World Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Matthew Taylor

Allred Distinguished Professorship in Artificial Intelligence, WSU

Matthew E. Taylor graduated magna cum laude with a double major in computer science and physics from Amherst College in 2001. After working for two years as a software developer, he began his Ph.D. work at the University of Texas at Austin with an MCD fellowship from the College of Natural Sciences. He received his doctorate from the Department of Computer Sciences in the summer of 2008, supervised by Peter Stone. Matt then completed a two year postdoctoral research position at the University of Southern California with Milind Tambe and spent 2.5 years as an assistant professor at Lafayette College in the computer science department. He is currently an assistant professor at Washington State University in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award. Current research interests include intelligent agents, multi-agent systems, reinforcement learning, transfer learning, and robotics.

Jerry Henley

VP Marketing, Sorenson Capital

Jen Snell

VP, Next IT

Jen Snell is Vice President at Next IT, the largest U.S.-based provider of intelligent virtual assistants. As a recognized marketing leader for emerging technology and enterprise artificial intelligence, Jen is leading Next IT’s marketing strategy and user engagement programs. 

Jen is a frequent speaker and a leading contributor on topics shaping the development and design of interactive technologies. As both a visionary and a pragmatist, she translates the broad visions of technology leaders across the enterprise into actionable insights and purposeful solutions. Jen ensures that Next IT’s A.I. powered intelligent interfaces deliver remarkable user experiences that advance her clients’ business goals.


Check out what the TBF experience is all about

Click here to download the complete conference schedule!

8:30 AM
Summit - Invitation Only Event

An annual think tank providing social, economic, and ethical guidance to the world regarding the robotics revolution. Large and small group exercises will guide us in defining the questions we must answer and sharing hypotheses for ourselves and others to research. This is an invitation only event.

Nick Smoot

#ThinkBigFestival2016 kicks off with a night of live music, comedy, networking and drinks. Starting 6:00pm, we will begin checking in attendees at the Lawn in front of Parkside Towers (600 Sherman Ave. Coeur d’Alene, ID)

Nick Smoot
Introduction and Welcome

Hosts Nick Smoot and Gray Bright will officially kick off Think Big Festival 2016 and prepare everyone for the day ahead! Location: Boswell Hall, North Idaho College

Nick Smoot, Gray Bright

We are honored to have, as our first presenter, Julian Guthrie! Julian will be officially releasing her brand new book How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight! Additionally she will be interviewing some of the subjects of her book: Peter Diamandis, the founder of XPrize and Singularity University and the first winner of XPrize, Burt Rutan! This is one session you will be talking about until Think Big Festival 2017!

Peter Diamandis, Burt Rutan and Julian Gutherie

The world is changing in some very profound ways! From virtual reality to augmented reality to chatbots and drones, this group of experts will be discussing the changes we will face in the coming months and years as the line between reality and virtual reality continues to blur. Our guests for this discussion are: Lew Strachman of Nova Wake Studios (VR studio) NextIT (Chatbots) Dahlton Grover- Edventures and ThrustUAV (Drone racing) Ross Finman- MIT (Pixar in your pocket AR creation from mobile device)

Hosted by Gray Bright of "The Tomorrow Show"

How are quantified self, robotics, AI, and big data analytics changing the way we think about human health? This panel of experts will explore the changes they are working on, what they see for the future and what you need to know right now about the Future of Health. Our guests for this discussion are: Chris Dancy- World’s most connected man  Amish Patel Bjorn Woltermann 

Hosted by Chris Cochran

Nick Smoot will present a panel of pundits to discuss the changing world of investment as it pertains to Robotics, AI and innvoation. Our guests for The Future of Investment are world renowned experts in the field of investments and innovation! Our guests for this discussion are: Jerry Henley- Sorenson Capital  Erik Benson- Voyager Capital Roberto Aiello - Itron and Google

Hosted by Nick Smoot

What changes will educators, parents and innovators need to be thinking about as we race into the future? This panel will discuss what we should all be thinking about with regards to education and the coming technology revolution. Our guests for this discussion are: Jim Fowler  Barb Mueller (Gizmo CDA. Maker space. Also the creators of IMAX camera)  Beth Brubaker (Program lead at STEM Charter)  WSU AI Professor (AI Professor who teaches robots to teach robots)

Hosted by Chris Cochran

Food Trucks will be pulling into the U of I parking lot to help feed the masses!

What do automated vehicles, prosthetic limbs, and spaceships all have in common? They are changing the way that humans get from one place to another! This panel will discuss those changes and where they see the world of mobility going in the future! Our guests for this discussion are: Josh Hartung- Polysync Allan Martinson- Starship Stefan Weitz- Radial (COO of Ebay Enterprise/Radial) Burt Rutan (Founder of Scaled Composites)  Ashley Llorens- Johns Hopkins APL (Head of Machine learning) 

Hosted by Julian Guthrie

We are so pleased to present Stan Swerengen as our Keynote speaker. Stan will be sharing his story and how he has helped ship over 1 billion devices around the world.

Hosted by Nick Smoot
4:00 PM
Hands On With Real Robots, 3D Printing, Drones and More!

Now that we've talked about Robotics and AI, come get your hands dirty playing with technology! Location: 504 Lakeside Drive, Coeur d'Alene Scheduled Experience Events include: Drone racing  Scaled Continuous Composite Manufacturing  HoloLens Oculus HTC Vive Robotic Suits Flying Drones VR Immersion Experience Starship Robots  Tesla Vehicle Test Drives  BMW i8

Sponsored by Frontier Communications

Now that your mind has been blown, you get to kick back and have some fun with your new friends. Uber will give free rides if needed while you bounce around the beautiful town of Coeur d’Alene. These events are not open to the public but only festival goers: * Train Depot- CC3D   * Sherman office- Xcraft * The Collective- Tesla  * Coeur Building- Wedding Nook  * Art Spirit Gallery- Private venue for speakers  * Parkside- Mountain Man Ventures

Various Hosts

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Event tickets

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  • Get tickets at the lowest price possible for a limited time.
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  • - Ticket to the Conference
  • - Priority access at the Robotics Experience Event
  • - Opening Concert Access
  • - Pub Crawl Access
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**Full Price - Unavailable** Thanks to Tesla’s involvement, we are able to extend tickets at the early bird price!
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  • Includes:
  • - Ticket to the Conference
  • - Priority access at the Robotics Experience Event
  • - Opening Concert Access
  • - Pub Crawl Access
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what people say

Being new to the community, Think Big was a great introduction to the people here, their network and like-minded people
Cari2015 Think Big Festival Attendee
Artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, creative thinking, and the future of humanity that is the Think Big Festival.
Joseph QuallsCEO and President @ RenderMatrix, Inc.
There is no other conference in the country that brings together so many different viewpoints on the topics of robotics, AI and innovation. This event will change your life!
Chris Cochran2015 Think Big Conference Attendee

Register TODAY!

Register for Think Big Festival

Space is limited. Think Big Festival has space for 2500 attendees. Get your tickets now as we anticipate being completely sold out!


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  • Coeur d'Alene, ID
  • (208) 818-0654
  • 9:00 - 17:00