Community Speaker Series Ignite Gets A Reboot

Ignite, the original speaker series held in hundreds of cities throughout the world, is making a comeback. The original co-founder and head of Highway 1, Brady Forrest, has reacquired Ignite from O’Reilly Media and is relaunching it today as Ignite Talks PBC.

Forrest and his co-founder, Bre Pettis, the founder of Makerbot, launched the series out of a Seattle bar in 2006. What started as five-minute presentations from folks within the “Seattle geek community” grew in popularity across the world, just as the world of social media was also taking off.

The concept soon spread to more than 350 organizing teams, creating thousands of events in all six continents, according to Forrest.

Unlike the similarly styled TEDx talks, anyone who wanted to could get up and present any idea for five minutes, using 20 slides. Community members talked about everything from cyborg anthropology and hacking chocolate to how to get past “hello” at work.

O’Reilly Media took over the Ignite brand a few years back, but the event soon lost steam. Forrest believes part of that was just a lack of resources within O’Reilly. Not wanting to see what he built fade to nothing, Forrest decided to take it upon himself to give the brand a new spark.

The “PBC” in Ignite Talks PBC stands for public benefit corporation and that is how Forrest set up the new organization. B corps, or PBCs, are a fairly new idea. Companies listed as B corps are for profit but must meet certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Kickstarter recently reincorporated as a PBC. Etsy, Warby Parker, and Patagonia are all set up as B corps, too.

“We’re a mission-based company whose mission is “Everyone Speaks”. We believe that public speaking creates better communication,” Forrest wrote on Medium, explaining the new structure. “We think that we are in great company.” (original emphasis kept).

The plan moving forward is to build up a team of organizers and focus the new Ignite as a stage for public speaking training. Forrest said to think of it like a new form of Toast Masters.

Ignite brought thousands of people together from all walks of life both online and off to share in a new kind of community. It was hip and fun and entertaining, and those who went – including me – hopefully, learned a little something, too. It will be interesting to see how the re-launched platform grows in a new era.

Those interested in speaking at an Ignite event, or who just want to know if one exists in their city (or want to start one in their city), are encouraged to sign up here.