Another month another batch of online events – I think I attended 2 conferences in September last year, this year I have been at 5+ in the past 30 days.
Some notable online events I attended:
- Slack Frontiers was a conference for Slack developers built on Slack. I thought it was well done and especially the Sarah Cooper appearance. This is more to show the support and ecosystem that Slack is building with its partners and its developer ecosystem. I like to see these types of events happen by companies of all sizes.
- WXR Fund and Verizon co-hosted an event on building an effective XR ecosystem in AltSpace – this was all in VR. What better time than now to host talks and push the platform, and start the feedback loop from users and at least you get the spatial feel of being out of your living room. No traffic and no need to even comb your hair with a perfect 3D avatar to take your place on stage. Note: I did a podcast with WXR’s Martina Welkhoff and you can check it out here.
- Finally, and to point out I don’t only go to events on new platforms, I attended the Angel Forum Whistler Summit which was hosted on good ol’ Zoom and for the purposes of the conference and the audience size it works just fine and doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.
I hope Zoom will offer branding options soon because it would help me distinguish if I am at a conference or just a big Zoom room. Lots of things to add to Zoom but people are almost so used to it now you almost never have to remind people they are on mute.
Which leads us to last weeks big Vancouver event: Vancouver Startup Week.
I attended last years physical event, and then participated this year in its online form so I have some reference of how this all-around-town conference worked with the same talks but less running around.
I reached out to VSW’s organizer Vivian Chan to get some stats and thoughts on this year;s event:
- Thanks to the virtual nature of this year’s event they had an extra 800-1000+ unique registrations from attendees outside Vancouver. They had registrations from every continent (minus Antarctica).
- National and international partners were able to join in as travel was not an issue.
- Overall feedback was pretty good. And people (like myself) were just appreciative that they held it all, seeing as its a community effort. Big lesson people won’t forget either that the community’s support was huge for them and for the community.
- They weren’t sure if they would even hold VSW this year, but some of their biggest partners said they’d support the event if they did it… so they did.
- Originally planned on only doing 12 events during the week. They ended up with around 75!
- They also were able to have 100+ people in a session vs in the past where the venue capacity might only be 50. That’s also an interesting point to me. Sometimes the live talks were hosted at companies offices or conference rooms keeping it intimate but also stuffy and not enough room for everyone.
The one thing she mentioned that I sympathize with and as a speaker you should probably keep in mind is that at a live event we will be able to control the cables, the clickers and even in most cases the wifi but when 100 speakers all have their own home set up with their own #life to deal with it gets a bit touch and at times and for people in video conferences all day its easy to lose concentration.
The good thing is the pluses outweigh the negatives and next year they will adopt the hybrid model which I am very glad to hear as I definitely want international communities to be able to pop their heads into the event to see what is happening in the city and hopefully the networking features will be stronger.
Vancouver Startup Week used the Hopin platform which has some good functionality for medium sized events but I feel like there is no one-stop-shop yet, and you will have to use a few different solutions to make things work the best for your audience.
The networking element still doesn’t feel right just yet – our Mingle feature was the hit at Collision from Home and I can’t wait to see how it works with 100,000 attendees joining us in six weeks for Web Summit. With that kind of audience brings some amazing speakers but also an incredible opportunity to network and after 10 years of doing tech conferences (Web Summit just turned 10 on October 6) it should be pretty exciting in December.
The photo at the top of this column is not my online conference set-up, but I think it will be very soon including a VR helmet and a bottle of aspirin!