BRADENTON -- More than 300 business entrepreneurs came out to share and listen as ideas flourished, sparking inspiration for all those in attendance at the first BarCamp event to be held in Bradenton.
BarCamp's "Unconference" Saturday was the main event in a four-day series jointly titled Spark Growth: Riverwalk 2013 designed to encourage collaboration and conversations about business development and technology innovation in an environment that is growing and developing.
"This region is very forward thinking. People are being very resourceful in this environment," said Ray Gilley.
Gilley, CEO of an internet software company, had never been to a BarCamp event before but says he thoroughly enjoined listening and participating.
"Some people shared some good advice. People are thinking about solutions," said Gilley. "Innovation, creativity and technology combined to create some unique products and services that I was not aware of."
Gilley, of Orlando, was very impressed with the location of the weekend's event.
"I fully expect this to be one of the premier entrepreneur events in the future," said Gilley. "I compliment the people who weresupporters, organizers and participants."
The main event took place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Manatee Technical Institute before heading over to the main social-networking event at Pier 22.
Many people who showed up didn't know what to expect from the weekend's events.
"I try to get people to come for just one hour," Stan Schultes, cofounder of BarCamp Bradenton-Sarasota, said. "If I can get them there, then they won't leave."
The event was open-format as is the tradition, allowing speakers to choose topics they feel passionate about.
"It's organic, there is no agenda ahead of time," said Schultes.
The event attracted people from all over the state.
For Tammie Nemecek, Director of Partner Development at GrowFL, it was also the first time at a BarCamp event.
"It was phenomenal," said Nemecek. "It was really fun."
Nemecek, who brought her children along, walked away excited with the inspiration and engagement that was generated.
"To see my 17-year-old son so inspired that he got up and spoke," Nemecek said. "His topic was so popular that they had to move him from the room he was in to the auditorium."
In addition to drawing all ages, many local residents came out to get and share ideas for their businesses.
"I don't see anybody I know but what I do see is an amazing arrival of expertise and energy for entrepreneurs," Virginia Baden said.
Baden, president of a company trying to find cost saving solutions in health care, is a fifth-generation Manatee resident who was amazed at what she found in her own backyard.
"It's an amazing place that Bradenton has arrived to attract an event of this caliber," Baden said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.