Breaking Bread at Dent

How one conference doesn't leave the seating arrangements at dinner to chance.

Dent 2015, by Kris Krug
Dent 2015, by Kris Krug

During Dent — the annual invitation-only conference for 200 entrepreneurs in Idaho’s Sun Valley Resort each spring — the first evening is devoted to a dine-around that’s tightly scripted by co-founders Jason Preston and Steve Broback, who buy out several local restaurants and then, using attendees’ backstories, assign dining groups around symbiotic connections. “The most powerful professional relationships are personal relationships,” Preston said. “Dinner is the right time to make the kind of connections with someone you can call or approach a year later.”

One of Preston’s strategies: Choose no more than two to three people from the same industry for each group. “It’s an art, not a science,” Preston said. “I know a couple of folks that were at the dinner last year, and one of them sold their company to the other one.”

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.