My first conference – 5 lessons learned

What I learned from hosting the Awesome Inc Mobile miniConference:

1. Plan further ahead and on the proper date – Everyone says this all the time, I know.  But we decided to throw this conference just 2 months before the event went off. Certain things such as sponsorship, panels of speakers, and press releases need more time than this to make happen.  For example, we wanted one of our sessions to be a panel of carriers (ATT, Verizon, Sprint, etc).  Every carrier would send us through a maze of contacts to get to someone who could actually help us.  Trying to throw this panel together in the 11th hour failed miserably.

We also learned that a Saturday in the middle of the summer isn’t the best date for a full day conference.  School is out of session and people are on vacation.  Weekdays are preferred.

2. Necessity of marketing outlets – We relied heavily on viral marketing for our mobile conference.  We used several outlets including regional high tech organizations/communities such as social media club, young entrepreneurs of Lexington, university list serves, etc.  However, having access to a full list of marketing/media outlets would have made our lives tremendously easier considering the ridiculous number of personal invites that are my ‘sent mail’ folder.

3. Make money – This is a novel idea that we aren’t quite sold on yet at Awesome Inc.  Just kidding…but seriously though.  Our keynote speaker, Noah Kagan, made 40K on his first conference.  We barely broke even.  His advice, get to break even by selling tickets at a reduced price far in advance, then jack the price up.  Of course this is only possible if you follow lesson learned number 1 – plan further ahead.

4. Volunteers are nice, paid staff is better – Perhaps our biggest accomplishment and biggest source of sleep deprivation was that we threw the entire conference with a volunteer staff (thanks to everyone who helped by the way, you were amazing).  The volunteers did great, however when a ball gets dropped by a volunteer, you can’t really blame them for dropping the ball or even always ask them to pick it up.  Instead you have to pick up that ball and run with it.  If you have a paid staff, you can expect a lot more of meeting deadlines and consistent communication. 

I’m extremely lucky to have such amazing friends that were willing to help me with this initiative and others. The thank you list is below.

5. People register late – We had over 50% of our registrations come in the last 5 days. This obviously had us worrying about a low turnout, but I guess is to be expected since people don’t want to commit and/or just don’t get around to registering until close to the date of the event.

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Thank you list:

Matt Smith – text messaging system / space setup

Ryan Copple – technical stuff

Ryan Bright – web site/technical stuff

Rebecca Fields – food / working the door

Alyssa Thornton – space setup / working the door

Rachel Cunningham – coordinating logistics of event

Chad Engle – pitch contest judge, blog article

Adam Martin – pitch contest judge

Keith Kurzendoerfer – space setup

Nathan Fort –

Scott Johnson – equipment, space setup

Larry Grover – pitch contest judge

Anthony Jones – brochure design

Cliff Ravenscraft – Northern Kentucky recruitment

John WilliamsonLouisville recruitment

Jason Falls – Louisville recruitment

Todd Earwood – Louisville recruitment

Andy Cox – space setup, transportation

Josh Fenner – Commerce Lex, space setup, marketing

Gina Greathouse – Commerce Lex, marketing

Kimberly Solsbury – Commerce Lex, marketing

Justin Raney – space setup, iPhone workshop

Tim Savage – recruitment

Jerry Houck – recruitment

Chuck Bryant – Nashville recruitment

Mr. Cunningham – lodging for speakers

Kyle Lake – video

Jaron Jones – photography

Speakers:

Noah Kagan

Brendan Lim

Markus Spiering

Ziv Tarsi

John Soward

Sam Soffes

Nick Holland

Brian Slick

Jake Behrens

Justin Raney

My first conference – the experience

The first Awesome Inc Mobile miniConference is complete.  The conference was a huge success.  We had over 100 people attend and 10 speakers from CA, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky (plus one video conference from Israel).  The conference included 2 keynote speakers, an iPhone development workshop, a pitch contest, and four tracks for attendees to take:

General – For attendees with a general interest in mobile technology, business, and applications.

Technical – For attendees with a more general interest in the technical details of mobile platforms, applications, and technology.

iPhone Beginner – For eager developers wanting to get their hands dirty with iPhone development. Macbooks will be provided for development.

iPhone Experienced – For those developers already familiar with the iPhone development platform, there will be more advanced discussions on how to get more out of your applications.

Here is what some of the attendees had to say on twitter:

Here are some articles/content published about the conference:

http://www.aceweekly.com/pdfs/uploads/coverstory_090723.pdf

http://fuelyourapps.com/9-reasons-to-attend-an-app-conference-straight-from-the-attendees-mouths/

http://www.youtube.com/AmazingAaronTV#play/uploads/1/X4AuMHN2qUw

http://www.bizlex.com/Articles-c-2009-07-14-88307.113117_Mobile_media_conference_to_help_Web_developers


Awesome Inc Mobile miniConference

My first conference

Awesome Inc is planning its first conference – Awesome Inc Mobile miniConference. It is this Saturday, July 18th from 11:00 am – 8:00 pm. The conference will feature presentations from a former Facebook Mobile product manager, a top 25 iPhone app developer, and Yahoo! Blueprint. There will also be a workshop teaching participants how to develop their first iPhone app.

 Awesome Inc Mobile miniConference

The conference is shaping up to be solid.  It’s taken a lot of work and help from tons of volunteers.  I’ll be sure to post more about how it plays out and what I learned from this experience after the conference.

For more info: http://mobile.awesomeinc.org

To register: http://mobileconference.eventbrite.com