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Herb Scribner, Deseret News
Here are all the executives speaking at the conference. From left to right: Beehive Startups founder Clint Betts, Domo CEO Josh James, Dave Elkington, InsideSales.com, Aaron Skonnard, co-founder and CEO of PluralSight, Carine Clark, executive board member of Silicon Slopes, Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics, Dave Batemen, CEO of Entrata.

The Silicon Slopes tech summit kicked off with a keynote address from Domo CEO and founder Josh James and other executive board members of the Silicon Slopes organization.

James, along with fellow Beehive Startups' Clint Betts, heads the Silicon Slopes group, which is a combined effort from Utah startups to spread the message of Utah burgeoning tech industry.

The Silicon Slopes organization will host this tech summit on Thursday and Friday. Executives from Pandora, Qualtrics and Microsoft are set to speak at the event. Celebrities such as DJ Kaskade and Michael Pena will also offer speeches.

“We’re lucky. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Betts said while introducing James.

Betts asked James and the other Silicon Slopes executives questions about the tech industry.

Below you will find quotes and insights from James, Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith and the other board members in the opening address.

Domo CEO Josh James:

  • He said he met with Clint Betts and wanted to see if they could build something bigger. “Let’s see if we can next-level this.”
  • “The vision we all have is we’d like to see this be the next South by Southwest.”
  • Reviewed the history of startups in Utah, beginning with WordPerfect in the 1990s. “Now, there’s a lot coming.”
  • He said he went to a few meetings for branding of these events and for the Utah startup scene. They all ended with no decisions. He said the Silicon Slopes name “helps us a lot.”
  • “Having something like Silicon Slopes, something that sounds like inertia, can go a long way.”
  • James said Sundance happens everywhere and captures the world attention. But Salt Lake City is empty. He added there’s always an opportunity to draw attention.
  • “We all have chances to learn from each other.”

Dave Elkington, InsideSales.com

  • He said that he was speaking in Europe and mentioned Silicon Slopes. Students understood him. “I think it’s getting out there.”
  • Pleaded with businesses to spread the Silicon Slopes name. “The more we do this, all boats are going to rise.”
  • He said there’s a problem where companies aren’t paying enough or doing enough to find talent, since BYU and University of Utah students flock to California once they graduate.

Aaron Skonnard, co-founder and CEO of PluralSight

  • “We have a lifestyle. We have these beautiful mountains that we live in that provide us all an opportunity for full life balance.”
  • “We’ve had these individual success stories. And it think what’s special at this moment, right now, with the conference we’re creating something bigger than any company has done before with this state.”
  • He said there were a lot of brands brewing in the state, like Silicon Slopes, Beehive Startups and the Start Foundation. All of these brands created a dilemma. “In the end it became clear to us. We saw very clearly that Silicon Slopes is definitely the brand that has the best global awareness right now."
  • He called for more diversity in the workplace to help bring more people into Utah.

Carine Clark, executive board member of Silicon Slopes

  • When she met with investors, they said there was something special going on in Utah. She always sees the influence around the world. She said this can help Utah.
  • “If we do a good job of building the community where there’s this tremendous opportunity, we all have kids here, and that means a better for our community to grow up in. … It’s better for our kids and for our state.”
  • “These are all … vibrant companies that stated and happened to do very well in Utah. … They are using technology to grow their companies.”

Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics

  • Founding of Utah was the “craziest idea” people ever thought about, since explorers had to travel across the country. But it helps entrepreneurs today. “It’s carried down in our DNA.”
  • He said he’s not passionate about a lot, except for the state of Utah.
  • “It’s the beautiful home base. … Home base in Utah is like nowhere else in the world.”
  • “Everyone comes here. Everyone’s flowing through here. And we get to live where they vacation.”
  • “The key is that we can all work together and go the distance.”
  • Smith said it’s important to build more big-name businesses in Utah. He wants it to become the norm where hires choose to live in Utah, rather than some of the bigger cities, like San Francisco.
  • “Everyone who gets here. First thing they say to me — I’m never leaving.”

Dave Batemen, CEO of Entrata

  • Took a class with Larry Miller. “It just lit me on fire and inspired me.”
  • Called Josh James a “legend.”
  • “All boats rise with the tide. And I think Silicon Slopes is that tide.”
  • Spoke about the need for government to get involved in building Utah.
  • “We need to increase the lobby we have and the voice we have in government."
  • “There’s enough awareness amongst the leadership in Utah that there’s concern about job growth and the tech industry is bringing in that job growth.”