This spring, the Westchester County Center in White Plains will be transformed from a convention center into a technological melting pot when it hosts the first Westchester Digital Summit, a one-day, “hardcore” tidal wave of information about all things digital, according to Chappaqua resident Chris Dessi, the brains behind the event. “I had read about the Long Island Digital Summit, and I thought it was a great idea,” says Dessi, CEO of White Plains-based social media marketing firm Silverback Social. “I had run little tutorial-type summits with my former business partner in Westchester, but there was always interest in doing something [more].”
Dessi, who started Silverback in 2012, has worked in digital media for the last 13 years. Passionate about the rapidly evolving digital world, he saw a need for businesses to learn how to use the changing digital environment to their advantage. “My goal is to have local businesses be exposed to all the national digital minds that I’ve been lucky enough to encounter throughout my career,” he says. “I want people’s heads to be spinning when they leave the event and be like, ‘Oh my God, I just learned so much and I have so much to think about. I can’t wait to run back to my desk to tell everybody about it.’”
The summit began to take shape this past fall, when Dessi spoke to John Zanzarella of Ossining’s Zanzarella Marketing Consultants about the prospect of teaming up on the event. “The first week, we got 67 applicants for speakers, which was unheard of,” Dessi says. The event, which will run from 10 am to 6 pm, will include panel discussions, smaller group sessions, booths with vendors, and a keynote speech from Gary Vaynerchuk, a bestselling author and owner of online marketing firm VaynerMedia in Manhattan, as well as other speakers and panelists. Topics of discussion will include social media advertising, email marketing for small businesses, and application development.
“We’re looking at a broad swath of interesting media personalities,” says Dessi, though the demographic is “anyone doing business.” Tickets for the May 14th summit, which will accommodate up to 3,000 people, are $215 for general admission, with group and student rates available. Dessi adds that he wants to turn the summit into a biannual event, held once in the spring and once in the fall. “Why not make Westchester a digital hub in the country?” he says.
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