From the depths of what was once a loosely organized series of evening events for friends and colleagues to get together over a few drinks and talk about the business of action sports, to the Action Sports + Culture Conference (ASC) which took place January 4, 2013 at the Agenda trade show in Long Beach, CA, what was once a buddy-fest of insiders has turned the corner to a legitimate conference series with new hopes and goals for the upcoming year.
The evolution of what GroupY co-founders, Mark Sperling and Liz Randall, friends from the action sports industry, first created, now has a new set of priorities including a limited series of conferences that will roll-out throughout 2013 across the country, with the intention of bringing out the best in business presentations around the topics of youth culture, action sports, music, fashion, car and moto culture, and lifestyle.
The first of the series launched with a respectable 120 industry players attending the Action Sports + Culture Conference after the first day of the Agenda trade show in the upstairs ballroom. Decked-out with red stage lights for an appropriately sized stage, a photo exhibition featuring some of the best photographers in action sports, such as Grant Brittian and Trevor Graves, two spotlighted classic DUB cars, an arrangement of cocktail appetizers, wine, beer, and drinks, it was a perfect opportunity to chill after the show and catch-up with colleagues and meet new people associated with the industry.
The speakers included Amy Purdy, co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, Myles Kovac, President of DUB Magazine, Jarka Duba, President of POC, Danny Way, professional skateboarder, and “Waiting for Lightening” movie director Jacob Rosenberg, which features Danny Way, and was one of the highlighted movies showcased at SXSW last Fall.
Amy Purdy provided a huge dose of inspiration and spirit to the event, as she recapped the tragic story that lead to the loss of both of her lower legs, and her resilience to letting go of her dream to be a professional snowboarder. Now, top-ranked on the World Cup circuit for adaptive snowboarding, and training for the Para-Olympics for 2014, Amy is a living model of moving beyond extremes and obtaining her goals. Her foundation, the non-profit Adaptive Action Sports, has made incredible progress towards bringing action sports to other young people with disabilities.
Duba explained the process of bringing a high-end Swedish brand, POC, which makes protective alpine ski racing helmets and other gear, to the United States. Now worn by some of the top athletes in the world, including an extreme team from Red Bull, the brand is one of the most highly respected within this category.
The highlight of the evening however, was Kovacs’ story and step-by-step business prowess as the President and Co-founder of DUB Magazine. Not only is his magazine the leader to DIY car culture, but the franchise includes a series of DUB trade shows across the country featuring a variety of cars and competitions, and a new TV series in English and Spanish. Kovacs’ story was unique in that he talked about the streets, Hispanic culture and the influences in creating his business, gang culture (and how skateboarding and BMX kept him out of that scene), and the importance of creating feedback loops to really understand what your target audience is all about. Kovacs advice was on another level as was apparent by his success.
The final presentation featured pro skateboarder Danny Way and director Jacob Rosenberg regarding the making of the documentary, “Waiting for Lightening” featuring the story of Danny Way and the amazing feats he’s accomplished, including jumping the Great Wall Of China.
A big shout-out goes to the event host and moderator, Pat Parnell, whose on-air experience at Fuel TV, among other shows, made the presentations cohesive and more interesting as Parnell plunged in with various questions and assisted with explanations, highlighting key points of what was being said.
However true to the roots of the ASC series, people enjoyed the opportunity to network in an relaxed atmosphere conducive to sharing insights and ideas, which marks the first event of the series, a success.