RootsTech Survival Guide: The Innovator’s Summit

Wednesday at RootsTech 2016, before the actual conference begins, is the The Innovator Summit.

Although more for the ‘man behind the curtain’, the Innovator Summit at RootsTech is a one-day event of presentations geared toward vendors, developers, entrepreneurs, and innovators to learn about and share ideas on the creating the software and products that drive our online and offline genealogy research.

A Day Full of Innovation & Entrepreneurs

The Innovator Summit is not included in the regular 3-day RootsTech Pass, but can be purchased in addition to a 3-day pass, or by itself.  The Innovator Summit starts with a morning keynote session, a full list of classes taught by family history business professionals, a boxed lunch, admission to the semi-final round of the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown, and concludes with an opportunity to meet and greet with other Innovator Summit attendees and participants at an evening networking event.

This year’s Innovator Summit keynote speaker will be Kenneth Krogue, who is the cofounder of, a contributor for Forbes online, and a popular speaker at industry events. The Keynote Session begins at 9:00 a.m.

The presenters and classes cover just about every possible topic under the heading of ‘genealogy innovation and entrepreneurship’. Speakers include Bennett Greenspan, Jeff Haddon, Tammy Hepps, Harrison Tang, among many others, as well as a panel discussion on DIY Small Business Guerrilla Marketing Strategies led by Lisa Louise Cook, Allison Dolan, and Jenna Mills.   Class titles include  Family History Technology Workshop Highlights, Design a Standards-Based API for Genealogical Data, DNA – How is it Redefining Our Industry, and many other classes of interest to developers and entrepreneurs. You can find the complete list of Innovator Summit classes here: Innovator Summit Class List

The Innovator Showdown

A big part of the Innovator Summit is the Innovator Showdown, where developers compete for cash prizes for their projects involving emerging businesses and technologies in the genealogy world. A panel of judges has narrowed down the submissions to twelve semifinalists, whose submissions will be displayed at RootsTech in the Expo Hall’s “Innovator Alley”.  You can find the list of these Semifinalists, along with a link to their video submission here.

During lunch on Wednesday those twelve semifinalists will each give a brief presentation. The judges will then determine the 6 finalists, and those finalists will be announced at the Media Dinner that evening.

On Friday at 10:30 am in Hall D, the six finalists will present their projects before the panel of judges as well as an audience of RootsTech attendees, who will vote for the people’s choice winner.  The judges will select and announce the top 3 winners, who will share in over $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. If you purchase a pass to Wednesday’s Innovator Summit, you are also able to attend the Friday Showdown.

You may register for the Innovator Summit here, but even if you opt not to attend the Innovator Summit day on Wednesday, all RootsTech attendees are welcome to  attend and vote at the Showdown for their favorite new technology, product or service on Friday.


The finalists will present before a panel of judges and a live audience on Friday at 10:30 am (photo from