RISE FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Global RISE

Attending RISE Week

Hosting RISE Week Sessions

RISE Programs

Sponsors

Volunteers

Global RISE

How is RISE able to offer RISE Week sessions for free?

Participation is free due to the generosity of RISE sponsors. Individual contributions also help enormously, and we encourage participants to consider making a tax-deductible donation to RISE upon registration.

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How did RISE start?

RISE held its first RISE Week conference in 2007, reflecting the vision of co-creators Roy and Bertrand Sosa. In 2006, the Sosas – both successful entrepreneurs – were approached by the Kauffman Foundation to lead an initiative for Austin as part of the first “Entrepreneurship Week USA.” Their concept was to create a not-for-profit conference for and by entrepreneurs that would truly embody and celebrate Austin’s entrepreneurial spirit. They modeled RISE on a format similar to South by Southwest, in which multiple events would be held simultaneously at venues around Austin.

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Who puts on RISE Week and other RISE programs?

RISE is a program of the MPOWER Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. RISE has a small full-time staff and is also supported by student and professional volunteers.

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How many people participate in RISE Week each year?

RISE Week attendance has grown rapidly since our inaugural year in 2007. In 2011, more than 4,000 people attended 350 sessions – a 85 percent increase over 2010.

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What makes RISE week unique?

RISE Week is organized differently than most professional development conferences. RISE sessions are independently organized by hosts, each of whom chooses the topic and location for his/her session. These peer-led forums are limited to 25 participants and take place all over Austin. RISE is also expanding to New York City in 2012.

RISE reflects Austin’s uniquely collaborative entrepreneurial culture. At the event’s sessions, entrepreneurs from multiple industries and backgrounds, along with leaders from universities, business, non-profits, and government, all freely share ideas and experiences.

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What is RISE?

RISE – A Relationship & Information Series for Entrepreneurs – is a nonprofit initiative to provide forums where entrepreneurs of all ages and stages can connect and exchange ideas that inspire the entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to its signature RISE Week events, RISE offers year-round educational programs and networking opportunities.

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Why do I need to create a RISE profile to register for RISE Week events? What if I’d like my profile to remain private?

Your RISE profile allows us to communicate with you about sessions and events, and to connect with other attendees before and after the conference. You may choose to make your profile private at any time; however, the RISE staff and hosts will still be able to contact you with important updates about your registered sessions.

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How can I support RISE?

Entrepreneurs can support RISE by hosting or attending RISE Week sessions, by joining one of our entrepreneurial interest groups or becoming a RISE Member. Students and professionals can support RISE by volunteering (see here for opportunities). Businesses can help us keep RISE free by becoming an event sponsor. Contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

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Attending RISE Week

How can I support RISE? How will donations be used?

We ask all RISE Week participants to consider making a donation upon registration. RISE gives you and other entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to collaborate with top leaders in small groups, all for FREE! Your support helps us continue delivering the value of a high-dollar conference along with that unbeatable price tag. Here’s how small contributions add up:

Your $10 donation covers our training costs for one volunteer.
Your $25 donation covers our costs of hosting one attendee at a RISE session.
Your $50 donation covers our costs of reviewing one RISE high student team application.
Your $100 donation covers our cost of recruiting and working with one RISE host.

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I changed my mind - how do I withdraw my registration for a session?

If for any reason you need to cancel your attendance at a particular RISE Week session, you must log in to the RISE website and actively remove yourself from the roster by clicking “cancel.” Please note that if you are unable to attend multiple RISE Week sessions, you must individually cancel your registration for each session. You may not substitute another attendee in your place, and RISE takes attendance at all sessions to ensure full participation.

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Is there a waiting list for each session?

If a session has reached capacity, you can opt to be placed on the waiting list. If a space becomes available, we will send you an email notifying you of the opportunity to register.

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Can I see a list of other session attendees so I can connect with them?

Yes, if you are logged in to the RISE site, you can click on any session title to view its attendees. You will have then have the opportunity to connect with any attendees who have not marked their profile as private.

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Why do I need to create a RISE profile to register for RISE Week events? What if I’d like my profile to remain private?

Your RISE profile allows us to communicate with you about sessions and events, and to connect with other attendees before and after the conference. You may choose to make your profile private at any time; however, the RISE staff and hosts will still be able to contact you with important updates about your registered sessions.

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How do I view all of the available sessions?

Please see here for a list of all sessions confirmed to date. Check back often, as we continue to receive applications from hosts daily.

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Why do you only allow 25 people to attend each session? Is there another way I can access the information from a session if I cannot attend?

RISE Week sessions are small so they remain highly personal and interactive. Our RISE Membership program allows members to access session materials, videos and other educational materials year-round.

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Why should I attend RISE Week?

RISE Week provides aspiring and current entrepreneurs with the unique opportunity to learn from Austin’s top entrepreneurs, free of charge and in a small, collaborative environment. RISE Week is for sharing ideas, connecting with new people and stoking the fires of new possibilities.

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Is RISE Week only for Austin residents?

No. Austin’s RISE Week attracts more and more attendees from other cities each year. We welcome and encourage non-Austinite entrepreneurs to explore RISE Week 2012, or to get involved in bringing RISE to their own city.

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How can I obtain a press pass to cover RISE Week events for my publication?

If you are a reporter, editor or blogger wishing to cover RISE Week, please contact RISE at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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What should I do if I have a last-minute conflict that prevents me from attending a session?

Please note that our cancellation policy mandates a 36-hour notice. If you have reserved a seat in a RISE Week session and do not attend, you will be charged a $25.00 non-participation fee. RISE is, and will continue to be, a free conference for entrepreneurs. This non-participation fee helps us guarantee that those that reserve a seat do attend. We intentionally keep sessions small to promote maximum information exchange and relationship building, and they can fill up quickly. Therefore, it is important to honor each reserved seat as a firm commitment toward attendance.

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Why do you need my credit card number?

RISE is a free event. You may sign up for as many sessions as you like; however, to ensure participation RISE requires a $25 session deposit that will be forfeited should you fail to attend your session(s) without canceling at least 24 hours in advance. Your session deposit will only be charged if you do not attend your sessions. NOTICE: The cancellation button for a session will DISAPPEAR from the site, 24 HOURS PRIOR TO THE SESSION. You WILL be charged if you do not cancel within 24 hours.

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How can I register for my desired events and sessions?

If you have not completed a RISE attendee profile, click on the first session you’d like to attend (under Sessions & Events) and you’ll be prompted to register as a RISE user before completing the RSVP process. If you already have a RISE profile, just log in at the top of the site and then register for more sessions and events.

Please note that RISE sessions are free, but we do ask for a credit card because we charge all attendees a $25 fee if they do not show up to an event for which they’re registered.

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Hosting RISE Week Sessions

As a host, am I responsible for marketing my session to potential attendees? How are sessions promoted?

The RISE team handles the promotion of all sessions. We spread the word through flyers, targeted mailings and e-newsletters, public relations, and social media like Twitter and Facebook. To maximize each session’s success, we ask hosts to complement our efforts by distributing our materials and announcements to their own networks.

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Can the RISE staff help me find a location for my session?

Because our staff is small, we do ask that hosts perform due diligence in researching location options before contacting RISE. Some good resources for finding local coffee shops, restaurants or public spaces include Yelp.com and the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department. If you cannot find a spot to meet, the RISE team is happy to provide further advice.

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What kinds of session topics are most popular?

General topics related to funding, marketing, business development and operations are always popular, especially if they offer a unique twist on the subject. Social media engagement and the economy are of course hot topics for entrepreneurs.

Because RISE Week sessions are limited to 25 attendees and the local entrepreneurial community is so diverse, industry-specific sessions with extremely niche topics also command attention. Passion and creativity surrounding any topic can make for a great session.

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What kinds of topics have past sessions covered?

Here is just a sample of the vast array of topics RISE Week hosts have covered. Please remember that RISE Week sessions are limited to 25 participants, so hosts need not shy away from covering topics similar to those of past sessions.

Hands On: Create a Brochure, Website or Blog for Your Business
Legal Issues Affecting Small Business
Alternative Methods of Financing for Small Business Owners
Twittering Your Way Out of the Downturn
I’ve Outgrown My Garage… Now What?
Engaging the Hispanic/Latino Community
Branding: The Entrepreneur’s Friend or Foe?
The Art & Science of Customer Loyalty
From Entrepreneur to Social Entrepreneur

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What kinds of people can I expect at my session?

Most session attendees will be aspiring or current entrepreneurs. 58% of the 2011 registrants categorized themselves as current, practicing entrepreneurs. 20% categorized themselves as preparing to start a business, and 21% said they were service providers for entrepreneurs.

RISE asks entrepreneurs to choose their “stage” when registering, and we provide this information to session hosts. The stages are:

  * Converging on the idea
  * Business plan
  * Business formation
  * Growth/exit
  * Current business owner
  * Going public

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Do I need to be a CEO or founder of a company to host a session?

You do not need to be an entrepreneur to host a RISE Week session, as long as your topic is relevant to the entrepreneurs attending and you offer expertise they can learn from. For example, a marketing firm that caters to start-ups might wish to host a session about promoting products and services on a shoestring budget.

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How long are RISE Week sessions? How much work is involved?

Each RISE Week session is 90 minutes long. The amount of preparation needed depends on how you choose to structure your session. Some hosts prefer to create a PowerPoint presentation, some may lead a workshop, and others might combine a few different formats.

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Why should I host a RISE Week session?

Hosting a RISE Week session allows you to give back to the Austin entrepreneur community that has helped so many leaders like yourself become who they are today. That collaboration strengthens our community and our economy, and helps you solidify your position as a local thought leader. Plus, sharing ideas is fun!

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Is there a fee to host a RISE Week session?

There is no fee to host a RISE Week session. Some hosts choose to provide refreshments or distribute printed materials, and each host must cover those costs him or her self.

RISE handles the promotion of your session and registration of all attendees.

PLEASE NOTE: If you cancel your session less than 24 hours PRIOR to your hosted session, RISE will charge you the $25.00 “no show” fee. You will also be charged the 25.00 fee if you fail to show for your hosted session without cancelling. In addition, a host no-show will not be invited back to host RISE Sessions in the future.

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RISE Programs

How can I find out if my school is already planning a RISE University Day + Campus Fast Pitch event?

As schools sign on to participate, we will list them on this website. In the meantime, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you are interested in bringing RISE University Day to your school - we’ll let you know if something is already in the works and how you can get involved.

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Do I have to be a school administrator to organize a RISE University Day + Campus Fast Pitch event at my school?

No. College faculty, staff members, organizational leaders or students can take the lead in bringing RISE University Day to their schools. Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

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What is RISE University Day?

RISE University Day is an initiative that connects undergraduate and graduate students with in-person entrepreneurial experiences and resources. A college or university can participate by holding a RISE University Day + Campus Fast Pitch event.

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Do I need to live in Austin to participate in RISE Programs?

No. All RISE Programs are open to participants in any city. The only requirement is an enthusiasm for entrepreneurship.

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What are RISE programs?

RISE Programs expands the empowerment of entrepreneurs beyond the RISE Week Conference. RISE Programs includes: RISE University Day, RISE Fast Pitch, and RISE Funding Forum.

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How much do the RISE Programs cost?

RISE University Day is free for all undergraduate and graduate students. RISE Fast Pitch and RISE Funding Forum both require an application fee for those applying for consideration.

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Sponsors

What kinds of benefits can I expect as a sponsor?

RISE Week provides a unique opportunity to market your company and its services to more than 4,000 of Austin’s entrepreneurs and community leaders. A RISE sponsorship offers a number of advantages, including building brand identity during signature RISE events and developing new business.

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How can I become a RISE sponsor?

To learn more about RISE sponsorship, please contact Dana at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Volunteers

What volunteer opportunities does RISE offer?

RISE offers many volunteer opportunities for students and professionals. RISE Week volunteers can offer marketing support, hosting assistance or help with event operations. See here for a full list of opportunities and instructions for applying.

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What kind of time commitment does RISE expect from volunteers?

Our RISE Week volunteer opportunities are fully scalable to fit a range of schedules. You can work a two-hour shift to assist with one session, sign up for a full day of event help, or provide ongoing support for many weeks leading up to the event. We appreciate all the help we can get.

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