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?

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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 pleasure cruise think tank

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
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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

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.

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.

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.

Mike McLoughlin

Chief Engineer @ Research and Exploratory Development Department, JHU/APL

Mike McLoughlin is the Chief Engineer for the Research and Exploratory Development Department, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). Mike has extensive Executive, Program and Line Management experience, leading complex multidisciplinary efforts at the intersection of Biotechnology, Biomedicine, Healthcare and Systems Engineering. In 2009, Mike assumed leadership responsibilities for the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program, successfully demonstrating brain control of high dexterity prosthetics with amputees and quadriplegics. He is also leading efforts to develop human integrated robotics for a wide range of applications including visual prosthetics, assistive robotics and robotics for hazardous environments. His experience includes working with start-ups, academia, and government organizations to develop and grow new business and address critical challenges facing our nation. Mike began his career at JHU/APL in 1985, and has held progressively responsible technical and managerial positions. During his tenure at JHU/APL, he had significant roles in establishing the Biomedicine and Homeland Protection Mission Areas; grew the business base, and built the technical organizations required to support these fast growing enterprises. In addition, Mike teaches both Technical Executive Leadership and Advanced Technology Management in the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering.

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.


Check out what the TBF experience is all about

9:30 AM
Summit - Inventation 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

#ThinkBigFestival2015 kicks off with a night of live music, networking and drinks. Starting 6:00pm, we will begin checking in attendees at Blackwell Hotel, 820 E. Sherman Ave. Coeur d’Alene, ID

Nick Smoot
9:00 AM
The Fine Line

Hear a keynote speaker or panel discuss the role of government and defense in the revolution of robotics and AI Former Speakers Include: Christine Fox


Hear industry experts discuss the future of Robotics and AI as it pertains to what we know about transportation. Former speakers include: Josh Harthung, Guy Fraker, Burt Rutan, Tammie Borders


Hear analysts, pundits and investment managers discuss the surrounding robotics and AI and the economy. Former Speakers Include: Gareth Keane, Robert Scoble


Listen to scientists and researchers discuss advancements being made in the areas of controlling robotics with our minds and the quest to enhance the human body with technology. Former Speakers Include: Michael McLoughlin


Listen to a panel of leading health industry experts discuss the robotics and AI revolution's effects on human health and the health care industry. Former Speakers Include: Michael McLoughlin, Bill Torch, Ron Richard


Hear a keynote speaker or panel discuss the ethics of robotics, AI, singularity and what part society plays in forming the values behind this revolution. Former Speakers Include: Brent Regan, Erik Finman, Simeon Pieterkosky, Marc Boudria

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

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?

Future Frontiers Foundation

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.

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Event tickets

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If you are looking for discounted rates on local hotels click here.

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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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  • - 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!


Watch this space to see the awesome companies who support us

Media Partner

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Media Partner

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Idaho Department of Commerce Dec 2013
Mountain Man Ventures


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