Firestarter Sessions

No panels. No slide decks. And essentially, no keynote speakers.


Instead, six conference attendees took 15 minutes each to share a story, notion, thought, project or idea to seed people’s thinking. These moments, dubbed "Firestarter Sessions," fueled creativity, analysis and inspiration for the work ahead.

Mayor Sly James


ESHIP Summit Kickoff: Mayor Sly James | 5:02

Mayor Sly James kicked off the inaugural ESHIP Summit, welcoming 450 ecosystem builders: "You're here to innovate. You're here to do things. You're going to combine with civic leaders, venture capitalists, business leaders of people who have social aims in their programs and with entrepreneurs, and you're going to come up with innovations that help people. This is a city of innovation, a city of entrepreneurs, a city of arts, a city of culture, a city that loves people and people love our city. Welcome to Kansas City."

Victor W. Hwang


ESHIP Firestarter: Victor W. Hwang | 14:06

Victor W. Hwang, vice president of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, welcomed the tribe of people venturing into the new frontier of ecosystem building, comparing an entrepreneurial environment as a rainforest where weeds are outliers of possibility.

David McConville


ESHIP Firestarter: David McConville | 15:06

David McConville explored the ways that different hierarchical paradigms shaped human history, from the times of Plato, Aristotle, Nicholas Copernicus, to the Industrial Revolution, the Space Age and today.

Carol Sanford


ESHIP Summit Firestarter: Carol Sanford | 14:03

Carol Sanford shared the seven first principles for all living systems and how that translates to ecosystem building work: "You can't build an ecosystem without knowing the ecology of how it's nested."

Melissa Bradley


ESHIP Summit Firestarter: Melissa Bradley | 14:37

Melissa Bradley stressed the urgent, economic need to get uncomfortable, confront racism and invest in those who have been historically marginalized in her Firestarter, "The Return on Investment in Diversity and Inclusion."

Paulo Gregory Harris


ESHIP Summit Firestarter: Paulo Gregory Harris | 16:17

Paulo Gregory Harris explored what he calls a "masculine paradigm": a system of oppression that keeps those at the top isolated from those at the bottom, rather than embracing the opportunity of wellness that would be available if everyone worked together, instead.

Victor W. Hwang and Philip Gaskin


ESHIP Summit Firestarters: Victor W. Hwang and Philip Gaskin | 18:35

Victor W. Hwang, vice president of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation and Philip Gaskin, chief of staff and director of entrepreneurial communities at the Kauffman Foundation, provided closing remarks.