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Plywood Presents focuses on fostering social innovation
by Nicole Dow
July 30, 2014 10:47 AM | 2338 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff Shinabarger
Jeff Shinabarger
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A crowd of about 650 entrepreneurs, business leaders, nonprofit activists and cultural creatives — mostly those from metro Atlanta and the Southeast — will gather at the Fox Theatre in Midtown Aug 6 and 7 for Plywood Presents, an event supporting those interested in turning ideas for social change into tangible companies or products.

Jeff Shinabarger, founder of Plywood Presents and Plywood People, a nonprofit, said he started the movement five years ago to create a community of individuals who were trying to solve problems and would encourage each other and create accountability. The East Atlanta Village resident said the event, which is already sold out, is more than a conference because it focuses on building connections with other innovators rather than just listening to seminars.

“I hope that our gathering sparks relationships that last longer than just those two days,” Shinabarger said.

He said the 13 speakers scheduled to give presentations at the event are practitioners with demonstrated success. They hail from all across the country and even overseas.

“All the presenters … are leading something that’s making significant change to problems,” Shinabarger said.

He will kick off the event with a soft launch of his new book “Yes or No: How Your Everyday Decisions Will Forever Shape Your Life.”

“One thing I’ve learned through this community is that one of the greatest tensions we have as young leaders launching something of significance is we get in moments where we just don’t know what to do,” Shinabarger said.

The book outlines seven different decision-making styles and shares stories of how he and others have gotten through tough decision-making moments. It will be formally released Sept. 1 through publisher David C. Cook.

Plywood Presents will also include an idea competition in which five attendees will have five minutes to pitch their concepts for social innovation projects for a chance to win prize money and free public relations, accounting, mentoring and other services to help launch their pursuits.

Shinabarger said there have been many success stories to come out of Plywood Presents.

“We’ve had the opportunity to mentor throughout the years over 80 startups from the Atlanta area,” he said.

One such mentee is Brian Fosse, who co-founded Atlanta-based Lalabu along with his wife Keri. The company produces a stylish women’s top with a built-in nursing bra that also doubles as a baby-carrying pouch. 

“Lalabu is named to honor the woman who taught my wife how to wrap babies on a family trip to Africa,” Fosse said. “We have a One Day One Dollar business model [in which] our team volunteers one day every week to help women in [Atlanta], and we give $1 of each sale back to women in Africa where $1 makes a big difference.”

Fosse attended Plywood Presents in 2013. He said the experience connected him to a network that encourages him to rise above the challenges entrepreneurs often face.

“For me, attending Plywood Presents is more like joining a community of like-minded problem solvers than simply going to an event,” he said. “Everyone there is pursuing a project they truly care about. [The event] equipped me to continue my journey by introducing me to a community that daily helps me along the way.”

Learn more about Plywood Presents or Plywood People by visiting www.plywoodpresents.com or www.plywoodpeople.com.

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