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Summit Series: Connecting Young Entrepreneurs

Elliot Bisnow created a networking event to bring together young captains-of-industry.

What: Summit Series
Who: Elliott Bisnow, 24
Founded: 2008
Projected 2009 Revenue: Undisclosed

The Pitch: Summit Series is an organization dedicated to connecting and inspiring young entrepreneurs to take action in their business and philanthropic endeavors. The company hosts two annual conferences, bringing together some of the world's top entrepreneurial and philanthropic minds--from company founders to artists and industrial engineers--to learn from one another, share experiences and raise awareness for various philanthropic and social initiatives. The entry criteria for this who's-who organization is simple:

  1. Is the person doing something amazing?
  2. If the person didn't have money or fame, would the folks at Summit Series want to be his or her friend?

Since being founded in 2008, Summit Series has been invited to work with some of the world's most powerful and prestigious leaders, businesses and charity organizations, including the Robin Hood Foundation, Charity: Water, and The Clinton Foundation. Summit Series' conferences also boast an extensive roster of sponsor that includes Staples, Mercedes, Goldman Sachs, HP, Gillette and GQ. The next Summit Series conference will be held in Miami beginning this Thursday and ending on Sunday.

The Startup Story: Since his freshman year in college, Elliot Bisnow knew he wanted to build something great. A natural-born hustler hungry for an opportunity, Bisnow discovered his passion for business by observing young entrepreneurs around him. His only obstacle: He had no practical or educational knowledge of business. That would soon change.

When his father, a first-time entrepreneur living in Washington, DC, decided to launch Bisnow, a local daily newsletter business, Elliott seized the opportunity, promptly asking his father to let him sell advertising space for the online daily. His father agreed.

Soon after, Elliott began researching and cold calling advertisers. After six weeks of rejection and learning on the fly, he made his first sale for $1,200. Ecstatic, Elliott pushed himself even harder, hustling his way into previously closed doors and stepping up his cold-call efforts. Just a few short months later, Elliott began closing six-figure advertising deals regularly, and Bisnow became a seven-figure company.

Bisnow's business was growing at a rapid rate, and Elliot quickly realized his limitations. What started as a small hobby-business was now in the throes of making new hires, renting office space, scaling operations and engaging in a slew of other business details Elliott and his father hadn't anticipated and knew nothing about. Elliott needed advice--and fast.

Where most people would have gone back to school or hired consultants, Elliott--a fan of unconventionality--took the road less traveled. He wanted firsthand advice from the best of the best, and was determined to build a network of elites around him from the ground up. Literally.

Using his finely tuned sales skills, he began cold calling 19 of the nation's most successful young entrepreneurs with a simple, yet enticing offer: Come on an all-expenses paid ski trip to Aspen to hang out, learn from other successful entrepreneurs and exchange ideas. The pitch was a hit, attracting some of today's most highly respected young entrepreneurs to Aspen for a fun, impromptu summit of sorts--and effectively transforming Elliott from relative unknown to captain-of-industry organizer.

The group that formed in Aspen would become the tight-knit backbone for Elliott's future venture. And the concept behind Summit Series was born.

Impressive Stat: Elliot and the Summit Series were invited to organize an event for The White House where the Obama Administration officials met with some of today's top young entrepreneurs.

Founder Fun Fact: Elliott has two pets that are inseparable best friends--a dog named Jinxie and a ferret named Kanye.

Founder's Advice: "Make it rain! No one will help you. Just do it."

Are you a young entrepreneur with a unique venture? Email us about it at youngentrepreneurcolumn@gmail.com

Scott Gerber is the founder of Sizzle It!, a New York-based sizzle reel production company specializing in promotional videos for PR and marketing professionals, and the Young Entrepreneur Council. He is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, columnist, public speaker and author of Never Get a "Real" Job: How To Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke (Wiley, 2010).

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