SpreadIT 2016 is over! I would like to use this occasion to share my thoughts and show how much effort is needed to create free of charge, technical conference with more than 500 attendees. As some people can find parts of this article offending, please note that this is only my point of view.
A little bit of current situation
First of all, we are not connected to any company and never were. SpreadIT is totally community-based event. For sure, we are very grateful to our sponsors, because without them we would not be able to do this. What we do every year is to create an offer and send it to companies. Every year we have a bit more confidence that we will have enough money. If we’ve possibility to save some extra money – we use it for next year edition (In fact, we need to leave some money as we must print some posters etc. before we receive first money for the next edition).
At the moment conference “management” is just group of 7 people. And these people meet each other regularly on some online meetings. Besides, we have direct communication with each other on slack channel. Everyone of us is 100% responsible for some part of conference which means that it lies on your shoulders to deliver that part of event in time. Everyone can create own “team” to gain some help of course. But… there is not too many people out there who wants to use their free time to write emails, Facebook posts, tweets, do some coding, graphics etc. We are extremely happy when someone new join us (THANK YOU GUYS!).
365 days of preparations
I wrote above that everyone is responsible for some particular tasks. Let’s look at them more deeply:
- Program – preparation include asking some well-known trainers with a lot of conference experience. We do this because we want new faces every edition. Then there is C4P – we need to look at them, often there is need to discuss particular topics if they (and creators) meet our requirements. Also we give possibility to do C4P by gold and platinum sponsors. But they also have to meet all requirements, and sometimes it could be somehow challenging- in one hand they are our sponsors, they give us money, in other hand – our priority is to establish best possible conference schedule. You can’t invite too much people, you can’t have less than some reasonable number,
- Sponsors/Finances – we need money. Also we want to do some networking between our attendees and companies. Every company have some specific “culture”, sometimes there are specific requirements, sometimes there is a lot of questions. Imagine that you have to write a lot of emails to some official company mailing addresses (with a lot of redirections) to get sponsors. This part also include “keeping hand on money”, because at the same time rest of SpreadIT team ask you for money for their targets. That’s on daily basis for head of finance 🙂
- Promotion – Facebook, Twitter, Media patrons, writing news, checking grammar, trying to post something concrete and interesting from time to time… Then preparing posters, advertisements, graphics, ids, folders, stickers etc.
- IT – We have our webpage (which is all the time “under development” :)) – sometimes there are problems, we also have new ideas, requirements, needs…
- Logistic – Someone have to find place for conference, prepare coffee breaks, check audio, mics, adapters for macs or specific ports, order pizzas (find pizzeria which will do 100 pizzas in reasonable time :)), find places for sponsors on conference day, do “shopping”,
- Strategic contacts – (new role which was introduced first time this year). Mostly discussions with particular contacts, but we found out that this role takes some responsibility which I described under logistics. Also help with charity action which we do this year
- General coordinator – during preparation phase coordinator is responsible for conflict solving and scheduling meetings, but most important coordinator remove all roadblocks, so everyone can do “their job”. It seems like the most easy role, but in fact this is very serious, because responsibility that coordinator takes is quite big.
“Far side” of the conference
There are some behaviors that makes me sad:
In first 3 editions there were some people who just register to receive “free t-shirt”. They come in on registration, get their starter pack and then go back to home. Fortunately this year because of charity action we didn’t have this problem anymore. However, there were two or three comments like “we don’t like SpreadIT anymore because we didn’t receive free t-shirt”. I don’t want that kind of people on SpreadIT. Seriously.
A lot of criticism. I understand comments about cold pizza, about technical problems, about topic which didn’t meet participant requirements. I just don’t understand pure hate because we can’t afford something or we didn’t do something in particular way. Unfortunately we have small budget and this is always choice how to spent money. Don’t understand me wrong- We want all kinds of suggestions- we need to make a lot of hard decisions and its often about spending money this way or another. I just don’t get why some people have such hate for everything which is not “their way”. Live and let live. Really.
Registered people who don’t show up. It’s quite interesting, about 30% of registered people just didn’t show up on conference day. It’s fine if someone have to change their plans, many things can happen, but 150 people? Please understand that we have to prepare every single starter-pack, registration points, order pizza and many more. I know that you don’t pay for it so “just in case I will register”. Please have some empathy. 150 people is about 2hrs of additional work the day before conference for 10 people.
Bright side of the conference
There are still many reasons why we organize SpreadIT. For me it’s about some networking, about challenges, about growing up and, to be honest, about making my dreams come true. It’s a hard work, but on that day when I can stand in front of these 500+ people and say “we did it!”-it’s priceless. Especially if we did it good.
Call4Proposals and Call4Orgs 🙂
If you would like to speak at SpreadIT 2017 you can either wait for our regular Call4Proposals or contact me at daniel.pokusa(at)spreadit.pl 🙂
If you want to join us, meet cool people and make something great, do not hesitate and contact me or any other of SpreadIT committee member (mails here)!
See you next year!