The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) wanted to do something special for the 10th anniversary of its Small Business Convention. In the process, the organization did something simple — it brought the conference home. COSE had spent the previous three years at Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky but in 2015 opted to move the Small Business Convention back to Cleveland. COSE chose the Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center not only for its space but also for its historical value.
“With many spaces in the past, it was hard to get attendees to move through an exhibit hall that was in a room separate from keynote speakers, workshops, or food. Thus, we used the entire floor of Public Hall for both our keynote presentation and our exhibit hall,” Adina Magda said. “This forced attendees to walk past and through our exhibitors each time they were in the keynote room for a presentation or a meal. Additionally, our exhibitors were able to watch the keynote presentation from their booth allowing them to stay put should any potential customers walk by. We received extremely positive feedback from our exhibitors about this new experience we created for them to interact with attendees. The space felt open, interactive, and allowed for a good flow on the upstairs level.” All workshops took place on the downstairs level of the conference center. “And while we hadn’t planned it at first, we ended up placing 15 exhibit booths downstairs as well given the fact we had oversold the upstairs exhibit hall,” Magda said. “This ended up being another great experience for our exhibitors as so many attendees gathered in the lobby area between sessions creating a nice crowd for these businesses to meet.”
Four keynote speakers — Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss of Rent the Runway; Derrek Kayongo of the Global Soap Project, and Roberts Stephens of Geek Squad — graced a stage that had been designed by Rock the House Entertainment. “Our team at Rock The House always looks forward to partnering with COSE on this event as their team is polished, organized, and provides great education and valuable opportunities to corporate businesses,” Amy Van Duyne, executive assistant to the CEO at Rock The House, said. COSE also collaborated with the Female Entrepreneurship Summit to host its events in the same venue. “As two strong events that were focused on entrepreneurs, the partnership was a no-brainer for us,” Magda said. “The events had very different schedules throughout the day, but we found a time in both schedules for us to unite to bring both the FES attendees and the SBC attendees together for a keynote luncheon presentation. This was such a great benefit to both organizations as we were able to pool our budget dollars together to bring in a much bigger keynote speaker than we could on
our own and settled on the Rent the Runway founders. The groups had lunch together, watched the keynote and had a chance to connect. It was a really amazing experience to have that many entrepreneurs passionate about building and growing their business
in one place at one time.”
A SBC networking board scheduled numerous networking opportunities for attendees throughout the day before, between, and after sessions. In the evening COSE presented a progressive dinner concept with hors d’oeuvres in one place, dinner in another place, and dessert in yet another place. COSE eliminated printed materials and utilized a convention app for all maps, exhibit hall information, workshop descriptions, presenter bios, schedules, and sponsor information. “We also had the ability to connect attendees through the app using LinkedIn profiles as a tie in. The app allowed push notifications and connection to all social media activity, creating some great interactive elements with our audience,” Magda said.
Runners-up: Healthy Women Succeed (NAWBO and Red Key Network) Oct. 30, Parkside Church; Local Brews Local Grooves (House of Blues) Feb. 28, House of Blues; Relax & Renew: Ladies Night Out (Lake Health), June 16, Mooreland Mansion; Woman of Power (Rising Media) Oct. 9, The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland.
2015 — COSE Small Business Convention, Council of Smaller Enterprises
2014 — Dazzle the District, Wizard of Ahs
2013 — NorthCoast 99, ERC
2012 — Fete 2012/Get Unique, L’Nique Linens
2011 — Monte Ahuja College of Business Dedication Ceremony
2010 — COSE Small Business Conference, Council of Smaller Enterprises
2009 — Frivolity, Cleveland Synergy Foundation
2008 — (no award)
2007 — Weatherhead 100, Weatherhead School of Management