I stumbled into thinking about organizing conferences online by accident. I was looking for a way to see which of my friends were attending Defrag, there wasn’t anything out there that let me see that, and so I built a Facebook app to solve my problem.
That went down well, so I generalized it into Event Connector, and went looking for more events to try it on. I want to see if its simple services solve painful problems for guests and organizers, which types of events are the best fit, and build a relationship with some early-adopting event promoters to learn more about the market.
I’m also thinking about the folks over at EventVue. They’re building a much more advanced system, a suite of online tools to let conference organizers offer guests lots of interesting services. They’re a sharp team, just graduated from TechStars with an angel round under their belt, and we’ve chatted in the past about their work. I’d like to be able to back up any advice I offer them with some concrete data, and the only way to get that is to try a few things in the wild.
As an attendee, here’s my personal pain-points with conferences:
I don’t know who’s going. I usually end up bringing up conferences in conversations or emails with acquaintances in the runup to a show, but I don’t always remember, and I don’t ask everyone. Meeting old friends and connections is a big reason for going to conferences to me, so anything that increases my chances solves a big problem.
Nobody else knows I’m going. For both practical reasons, and yes, status reasons sometimes, it’s a benefit to me if I can advertise my attendance at a show. If I’m speaking, or doing something else prestigious there, I would like people to know that too. It’s even useful for past conferences, think of the strings of ribbons people wear to SIGGRAPH to demonstrate they’re old-timers.
It’s hard to organize informal get-togethers. Birds-of-a-feather sessions are usually the most valuable part of the show, but often it can be hard to arrange them, hear about them, and understand which are likely to be most useful.
Discussions finish at the end of a session. Of course, small groups usually peel off and continue chatting about ideas that came up from a presentation, but these are fragmented and there’s no process beyond arranging to start an email thread to continue them. I’d love to have a online area for each session where questions and discussions could go on past the conference.
Funhouse Photo User Count: 1,143 total, 60 active. Continuing the trend of gradual growth.
Event Connector User Count: 19 total. I reached out to a few prominent people in the tradeshow world like Rich Westerfield, Sue Pelletier and Tim Bourquin. Rich put up a blog post which was picked up by a few other blogs, and that’s helped boost my total. The directory submission is in the queue again. My goal is to get at least one more event using a connector within the next week.