Think Beyond: EntreCon Becomes Just a Click Away

By Gina Castro

Each year, hundreds of people attend EntreCon, and this year, despite the pandemic, even more people are expected to attend. How, you ask? It’s going virtual.

In the spirit of its theme Think Beyond, EntreCon sixth conference will be taking place in the virtual world. EntreCon is an annual conference put on by Studer Community Institute (SCI), a local nonprofit. EntreCon is an opportunity for business owners, entrepreneurs, leaders and employees to have access to national speakers and first class networking without traveling far. 

“We are excited because we’re working with Degy World to highlight our conference this year. It’s going to be very different from what people have experienced,” Rachael Gillette, SCI Chief Leadership Development Officer, said. “We know everybody wants to get together in person, and we’re hoping to get back to that next year. But this is the closest thing possible to being in person, whilst making sure that we keep everybody safe.”

The virtual event platform, Degy World makes EntreCon just a click away. Attendees from all across the country will create their own personalized avatar and interact as they would in-person. Guests won’t have to worry about Zoom fatigue or COVID-19. To participate in the conference, guests need only Internet connection and a screen. 

In this virtual conference, attendees can navigate their avatars to and from the virtual exhibit halls, conference rooms, auditoriums and meeting spaces as they would in a real life conference. A major component of EntreCon is networking. Through avatars, guests can interact with each other via voice activated technology. Instead of impersonal chat rooms, guests are able to use their microphones to communicate with each other and speakers. Another exciting aspect is attendees will be able to access all content from the conference for up to 30 days after the event.

Degy World isn’t the only new component to EntreCon. Local conferences ITEN WIRED and DesignXL are partnering with EntreCon. Both conferences had to make the tough decision to cancel their in-person events due to COVID-19. 

Created in 2008 by the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, the ITEN WIRED Summit is a cybersecurity and IT conference focused on connecting the community, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and educators on innovation, technology and entrepreneurship topics. This event is the first of its kind in the southeast and is hosted by IT Gulf Coast and Florida West Economic Development Alliance. 

“We’re all about making the community a better place,” Jim Rhodes, Director of ITEN WIRED, said. “It’s nice to have partners like Studer Community Institute that want to work together and do the same thing, so it was a no brainer to get involved with EntreCon this year.” 

One of ITEN WIRED’s planning team members and local entrepreneur, Michael Silver helped establish EntreCon’s partnership with Degy World. ITEN WIRED’s original conference will be back Oct. 6-8, 2021. 

Beginning in 2019, DesignXL is the first local conference of its kind. This conference educates designers, business professionals and entrepreneurs about the importance of design and how it can impact their business. DesignXL is a product of Pensacola Designers, a nonprofit organization that supports the creative community. 

Co-founder of DesignXL, Rachel Zampino explained that DesignXL hopes to use this partnership as an opportunity to advocate for the local design community. 

“Our main goal is to teach people about what design is, why it’s valuable and how it can help their business. A common misconception is that design is like art, but it’s really its own separate beast,” Zampino said. “Art is more about self expression, and design is strategic thinking, and predicting the customers’ behavior. Design can make a huge impact on a business.”

The DesignXL speakers are Chris Do, CEO & Founder of the online education platform The Futur, and Brad Weaver, Partner/UX Principal at When We Wonder— a creative agency. Do is an Emmy award-winning designer. Weaver is the author of Creative Truth. These speakers will be inspiring attendees to think beyond their standard marketing plan and how to integrate a creative team into their processes. DesignXL’s original conference will be back in 2021.

The structure of the EntreCon conference includes new attributes, too. This two-day event features five content tracks, rather than the conference’s usual three tracks. The five breakout tracks are the following: Business & Leadership Agility, Technology & Innovation, Sales & Marketing, Building a Vibrant Community, and Women in Leadership. DesignXL speakers will be in the Sales & Marketing track, and ITEN WIRED will be the Technology & Innovation track.

“2020 has been such a challenge to everybody in one way or another. We’ve curated the content and brought in experts to help people think beyond what’s going on now,” Gillette said. “Because it gets to be very hard when we’re in that situation of the stress and unknown and the constant change, to think beyond the challenges and look at the opportunities. This conference is going to help you do that. Being with the hundreds of other people that are going to be attending the conference is going to really help people get into a new mindset.”

EntreCon speakers include a mix of local and national professionals. Pensacola’s Felipe Muñoz, owner of Empathic Practice, will be speaking about his role as a Transformational Mindset Coach. TriHeath Chief Diversity Officer, Mardia Shands’ career has spanned from multinational global corporations to small not-for-profits across North America and Africa. She will be speaking about her knowledge as a multi-disciplinary human resources leader. 

If you are interested in learning more about EntreCon and its speakers, visit