Local entrepreneurs revive popular Grok conference

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Grok, a conference for creative professionals, is returning after a one-year hiatus.

The conference will be held at the ONE Building in downtown Greenville from Oct. 6 to 7, according to Chris Merritt, managing partner of Atlas Local, formerly CoWork Greenville.

“Grok is a gathering of people who want to discuss the challenges and successes of our industry,” said Merritt. “This isn’t your typical conference. It’s for people who are tired of events where they sit for hours and listen to speakers on stage.”

Unlike traditional events, Grok is built around group discussions called 10/20s, where anyone can start a conversation about any subject. Participants can discuss software, their work environment, personal challenges — anything that’s on their mind.

After 10 minutes of conversation, a session leader can choose to close the topic and ask for another, according to Merritt. If the conversation is interesting, the leader can extend the clock for another 10 minutes — hence the name “10/20s.”

“We bring in some of the best designers and thinkers in the industry to mediate the 10/20s, so they infuse the discussions with their experience and insight,” said Merritt.

This year’s conference could feature presentations about topics ranging from customer service in the digital age to management of remote employees, according to Merritt. Speakers have not been selected yet. Past speakers included Kickstart co-founder Charles Adler, and others from various industries.

Merritt alongside Matt Cook and Matthew Smith, co-founders of Atlas Local, launched Grok in 2011 as an extension of CoWork’s Zero Day, a monthly gathering for entrepreneurs and creatives designed to spark conversation and foster community.

In 2012, CoWork partnered with The Iron Yard. However, the duo continued to manage the conference, growing it to more than 200 participants by 2014. A year later, they relinquished control of Grok to The Iron Yard when the partnership ended.

The Iron Yard returned Grok to the duo in 2016, but they were too busy rebranding and relocating CoWork to Brandon Mill in The Village of West Greenville.

“Throughout the years the team steering the ship has changed here and there. This year, we’re getting the band back together,” the Grok website states. “The community of Atlas Local will be making this event as extension of our own community.”

Many Grok attendees, according to Merritt, are designers, developers, writers, artists, architects, and other creative professionals. However, it’s also open to other professions. This year’s conference has about 200 available seats. Tickets, which are expected to go on sale this summer, will cost $150 for “early bird” customers and $200 for regular tickets.

For more information, visit greenvillegrok.com.

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