The Aspen Investment Forum, held January 6 & 7, 2014, planned to bring together representatives of the global investment and entrepreneurial community to share their expertise for social fundraising. However, only a fraction of the participants were able to attend as a plane crash on the eve of the Forum shuttered the Aspen Airport through the late morning of January 7, just as the event concluded. Despite the unforeseen challenges, event host Elena Mikhaylova, CEO of Crowdfund Productions, made the best of an imperfect situation to provide a worthwhile and memorable experience for all who did attend.
Even before the Aspen plane crash, high winds had cancelled some commercial flights into Aspen and severe weather resulted in over 3,100 flight cancellations nationwide on January 5. The holidays, bad weather and new pilot rest rules, which became effective January 1st, overwhelmed many airlines. United Airlines' website and customer service phone lines were crippled, with one Premier member reporting being on hold over 12 hours. With the majority of participants having their flights cancelled, attendance was limited to a handful who had arrived early and another handful flew who into Grand Junction or Denver, and then took buses or cars for the rest of the journey to Aspen. Some made valiant attempts, such as Brian Korn of PepperHamilton LLP. Attorney Korn's New York to Aspen flight was cancelled, so he boarded a New York to Los Angeles flight, hoping to catch a Los Angeles to Aspen flight on Monday morning. Sadly, he was marooned in Los Angeles and was unable to get to Aspen.
For those who did make it, the light attendance fostered an intimate setting in which presenters and attendees exchanged knowledge and insight in a manner which was more relaxed and free-flowing than would have been possible with a larger group. I was to moderate the largest panel of real estate crowdfund platform founders ever assembled, a total of seven. However, instead of moderating the panel, I was the panel as none of the other panelists had arrived. Thus, I introduced myself and my company, American Homeowner Preservation, and then shared some real estate crowdfunding basics and insights. After that, I turned to the audience for questions and the lively and impromptu discussion which followed engaged most everyone in the room. This was educational and informative for me and likely all present. Through the conference, the spirit of those in attendance reflected the essence of a John Wooden quote: "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of how things turn out."
I look forward to Aspen Investment Forum 2015. The 2014 Forum will be tough to beat.
Jorge Newbery is Founder and CEO of American Homeowner Preservation, which purchases pools of distressed mortgages from banks at discounts, and then offers sustainable solutions for homeowners to stay in their homes.