When Bob Reby mentions Singularity University to business professionals, he often gets a look of surprise or confusion.
Founded in 2008, the Santa Clara, California-based Singularity University is a certified benefit corporation that promotes itself as a “global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build a better future for all.”
And while it claims a global presence, its name recognition in this region is minimal.
“It is an unknown factor,” acknowledged Reby, founder, president and CEO of Reby Advisors, a financial planning firm in Danbury. “I guess there are a lot of things that are really cool that aren’t common. I think it might be geographical — maybe it’s because we’re in the Northeast and not Silicon Valley.”
Reby is committed to expand Singularity University’s name and mission locally. In July, Reby Advisors was awarded a license to create a new Fairfield-Westchester County Chapter of Singularity University.
“I knew there was one in Boston and one in New York City,” he continued. “There was not one in our area.”
Reby first became aware of Singularity University in 2010 and was impressed with its focus on how evolving and emerging technologies would create significant socioeconomic changes — most notably through artificial intelligence, blockchain and new medical technologies that contribute to longer life spans. And while Singularity University lives up to its name by offering educational programs, courses and summits, Reby noted, it also maintains a collaborative platform that encourages international collaborations and knowledge sharing, and it runs programs to support and scale startups and promote social impact.
“It trains business leaders, government leaders and any type of folks who put themselves in leadership categories about what’s coming down the pike to prepare themselves and their organizations to either adapt or take advantage of the trends so they can remain relevant,” he said. “And they really support the entrepreneurs because they can build businesses that can solve global challenges.”
In launching the Fairfield-Westchester chapter, Reby is not putting forth a specific structure or calendar of events. Outside of ensuring a no-fee membership, he is setting the chapter into motion based on local interest in the endeavor. The first item in the launch is a Nov. 14 event at Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury. Attendance at the event will be based on Reby’s personal outreach to regional business leaders to explain the Singularity University mission and how it could help their businesses and the local business community.
“If they don’t know what Singularity is — and, to be honest, a lot of them won’t — I will talk to them and see where it goes from there relevant to another event,” he said. “I hope that we will have three events per year. We don’t have any structure right now and we’re not hoping to have 100 chapter members by blah-blah-blah. We want to have a dialogue, not a monologue.”
Reby has studied how other chapters around the world operate and noted there is no one-size-fits-all mandate.
“Some people have a chapter event with 60 or 100 people in it, and some have three people in a bar — but it’s still an event,” he said.
As for his target audience, Reby is aiming at the business markets within a 30- to 40-mile radius of his Danbury headquarters.
“We’re talking White Plains, New Rochelle, Stamford, Greenwich, but also up north in Litchfield County and even over to Hartford,” he said.