Summit Spotlight: Keynote Speakers

Spotlight on keynotes

Who they are + what they offer


The Maker City Summit on September 23 has lots to offer Knoxville’s makers and creative entrepreneurs: workshops, panel discussions, one-on-one sessions with experts, not to mention good food and beverages. You can check out the full lineup

Let's focus on the three people who will present the summit’s keynote talks. They’re all leaders in digital marketing and social media. They understand the challenges of mastering the digital world while also creating a product. They know what works – and also what doesn’t. 

So here they are and what they’re about. We think after you get to know them, you’ll want to register for the summit. Hope to see you there!


Chase Reeves


Designer-entrepreneur-showman Chase Reeves leads off the summit with a talk he’s calling “Afloat,” about finding the right tools to keep creative endeavors, um, afloat.

Who he is: Chase is co-founder and creative director of, which offers online courses and a community, articles and podcasts for indie entrepreneurs. He’s based in Portland, Ore., and, in addition to Fizzle, he’s runs the Chase Reeves YouTube channel, where he entertains and educates his audience.

Some things Chase is interested in: “I’m interested in well-made physical and digital products. I’m interested in how engaged, awake and curious modern folks can use modern tools to earn an independent, sustainable living. And I’m interested in helping good things to become popular.”

A few thoughts he shared: “When creating a website for their business, makers should be thinking about the lives of the people they're trying to sell stuff to. If you can understand what it's like to BE them, then you've got a chance to resonate with them.”

“Hearing from customers about how my work impacts them has made the big difference in my products.”

 “Know thyself. Be thyself. Understand what business is. Understand how modern humans think. Or, as I say at the end of every podcast: find care, take care, serve hard and dig in.”


Marianne Canada


At the other end of the summit day, Marianne Canada and Eric Meyerson will have a fireside chat (okay, no fire, but lots of chat) called “Finding and winning over your social media audience in 2018.”

Who she is: Marianne is an executive producer for Discovery Inc’s digital team. She oversees the production of hundreds of social videos, spearheads talent acquisition and development, and develops talent-driven series across multiple platforms. Marianne also oversees HGTV Handmade, the award-winning YouTube channel. She’s also an on-camera host and creator for HGTV Handmade.  

What she makes: “Because of the nature of my work I have actually had to learn a LOT of crafts and trades, everything from felting to knitting to embroidery to papier-mache to furniture refinishing to decoupage… That said, I don’t know that I could ever commit to just one craft, but I do like to knit and can crank out a hat in 3 hours if I’m feeling really motivated.” 

A few thoughts she shared: “Collab, don’t compete to drive eyeballs to your online content! Connect with people in your industry and look for ways to collaborate and find a new audience.” 

 “Work with your biggest social media audience—if you already have a big following on Etsy, work on growing your Etsy shop. If you’re reaching the biggest audience on Instagram, look at what you can do to connect with your audience and get new followers. Don’t feel like you have to be on every single platform. Look to where you are already finding success and use that as a first step to growth.”

“Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to network and promote yourself and your work. Be yourself, engage with your audience, and create an amazing product—whether it’s a craft you are trying to sell or content you’re creating.”


Eric Meyerson


Joining Marianne for the end-of-day chat is Eric Meyerson.    

Who he is: Eric is head of marketing for Sensai, a new startup that gives businesses, creators, and artists the power to transform their online influence with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Eric is an industry veteran in social media, marketing, and consumer technology, and a former marketing leader at Facebook, YouTube, and Eventbrite.  

AI? So what’s that mean? “Sensai helps makers, creators, and small business market themselves more effectively on social media. I used to work at two of the major social media companies, Facebook and YouTube. We would introduce new features and change the algorithm constantly. Part of my job was communicating changes to the community so they could be successful, but I wasn’t allowed to give away the ingredients in the special sauce. So what I ended up observing was well-intentioned people who were operating off playbooks that were out-of-date, built from best practices that didn’t work anymore.

“Sensai tackles that problem with artificial intelligence. Our proprietary machine-learning system analyzes millions of posts across the social platforms to see what the algorithms are actually doing right now. Then we give our customers very direct, actionable advice on what, when, where, and how to post so they can accelerate their results. We also give them really simple charts to show how they’re growing and what’s actually working best for them.” 

A few thoughts he shared: “The most important thing about using social media successfully is to pick no more than 3 and maybe only 2 platforms. If you’re a visual maker who ships your creations via mail, those platforms may be Pinterest and Instagram. If you have a retail presence or rely on events or focus on an over-30 crowd, those may be Facebook and Instagram. If your craft is content and you want media pickup, those may be Twitter and YouTube. But pick two, and then focus hard on building engaged audiences there.”

“Social media has created a new form of social currency, which has created a drive to be photographed in cool places or doing cool things. So maybe you as a maker are selling a thing, not an experience. Well, you can still make your object into an experience. I spoke one time with Allison Johnson, former CMO of Apple, and she described all the thought that went into the packaging of the iPod Mini. Maybe a kid worked a job all summer saving up for that iPod. So when she gets home with it, the opening of the box should be a ceremony, a celebration that rewards her hard work. 

“What is the experience that your customer is having with your brand that would make her or him want to share that experience with others, and buy from you again?”