By Katrina Diamond
Last week, ProductionHUB took off to the Windy City to take in Chicago’s 3rd Annual Techweek Conference & Expo. You may already have seen some of the real-time pics from the show floor and sessions via our social media channels; but keep reading for a birds-eye view of what caught our eye at Techweek.
* An active Expo hall with a bar, foosball table and a pool table and an interactive photo booth to help attendees unwind or network in a less conventional manner.
* My favorite speaker was Mugglenet’s Emerson Spartz. Not just because I was a Harry Potter fan, but because he articulated key strategies and specific tactics regarding the science of viral websites. Everybody in that room could apply his knowledge to their business, and I felt honored he was sharing his insights.
* Techweek definitely stayed true to its promise of being one of the most vibrantly and socially “connected” shows we have ever seen even the BATHROOMS had their own hashtags!
* Signage, registration, getting around = they did a great job. You didn’t have to walk a mile to get to sessions. Everything was easily accessible.
* Saturday they had a food truck downstairs I had my first Chicago dog. They had a variety of trucks, and I tried out a snack from several of them. Yum!
* The Main Stage session set-up was neat; they had four screens, two on either side and if you look up through the glass ceiling, you get cool view of the upwards building. Sure beats stuffy convention center rooms.
(…and when I say ‘bad,’ I mean bad like “oh-no-there’s-too-much-sauce-on-my-Prime-Rib” or that “my-Christmas-present-was-wrapped-too-tight.”) Was overall a truly wonderful show and we were happy to be involved.
* The parties were phenomenal entertainment-wise, but horrible for networking. Incredibly loud music and dimly-lit environments. Again, great atmosphere for fun, but you were lucky if your business card was used as a coaster let alone made it into somebody’s wallet. Not sure if they assumed everybody was local and already knew each other, but that was my biggest complaint. At other shows, sometimes my best networking is done at after-hours receptions.
* Announced sessions just a tad too late for planning purposes some of the best speakers were the very end on Monday, but it’s hard staying 4 full nights when traveling.
* Uber Founder, Travis Kalanick, seemed like a cool guy; however he didn’t really have much of a presentation to tell the attendees. There weren’t any earth shattering stories or strategies to take away from the session.
* The Hiring Fair was an impressive array of companies from a variety of industries, however the majority seemed to be hiring only IT people; not a bad thing, just not particularly relevant to our audience.
The Start-up exhibits were pulled out separately, which I also liked. Some of my favorite exhibits overall include: ubokia, TaskRabbit, Rawporter, float mobile learning, Techslinger, Digital Hope, Big Marker, and still a fan of Twilio.
* Microsoft’s Director of Search at Bing, Stefan Weitz, gave an interesting presentation on the evolution of search. He showed us that we all have stopped expecting search to evolve, and listed a bunch of factors that would shape the future of search in the next 5-10 years. The unexpected outcome of this was, by the time I typed up my notes legibly, Google released Google+ Events and certain other features that are available now, that encompassed the exact technology described in Bing’s presentation. Ouch!
* One unique thing was that they were experimenting with contact lenses as opposed to Glasses.
* Where the Cool Kids Are: I actually stumbled into this panel when a different speaker was late, and I am so thankful I did. This was incredibly insightful, jam-packed with Entrepreneurial all-stars and tidbits for our production company owners like:
- Seek poverty until you are 30 to pursue passion first.
- When entrepreneur, there’s no foundation or process like if you are a doctor or lawyer. Up to you to invent that path, which separates the doers from the dreamers.
- Always stay nervous. Never take your business for granted.
- Don’t second guess yourself, instead concentrate on core audience, everybody else is just noise.
- He who takes the road most traveled gets there the same as everybody else.
Stay tuned for some more Q&A’s from the show’s sessions.