Hello everyone, finally I have some time to talk you about our experience in organizing an event, the Disruptive Technologies Conference (DTC). It has been rough, but we did it in the end!
What was the DTC?
The DTC was an event designed to talk about disruptive technologies. We wanted to hold it in our city (Turin, Italy) because we want to create a VR pole here, we want to shape a local virtual reality community. But we didn’t want to focus only on VR, we wanted it to be a wider-range conference, so we included AR and mind-reading devices in our agenda. It has been held in Turin, inside the local incubator rooms (I3P) on September 23rd, 2016.
Was it the first event you’ve ever organized?
Yes, absolutely. We had other events where we went as speakers, but this was the first one completely organized by Immotionar. Obviously Beps gave us a big hand in organizing this.
What was the roughest part in organizing the event?
Well, organizing an event, even if so little, is not as easy as you may think. Every little aspect of the event may be a nuisance. Things like organizing the lunch, coordinating the speakers, check that everything is going to work in the place where the event will be live and so on, make you loose a lot of time.
The roughest part in my opinion has been the budget management. We started organizing the event too late (1st of September when the event was only three weeks later), due to our participation to EIA and vacations, and so we had to do everything in a hurry. The problem is that if you want to ask some sponsorships to some big brands in the VR world (like Unity, Razer, Leap Motion, etc.), you have to start the request months before the event (someone says 6 months before), otherwise they’ll answer you that they have no more budget left. And that’s what happened to us: for example Unity was very kind to us, but refused to be a sponsor due to the too few time of forewarning. Having few sponsors mean having few budget, so we had to make compromises for the lunch we offered, the location and the coffee-break we didn’t offer. Thanks a lot to sponsors that accepted our proposal anyway, like Jetop.
Here the lesson we learnt the hard way is: if you want to organize an event, start organizing it 6 months before the event date.
When the 23rd of September has arrived, how did you feel?
Very tired and stressed. The days before it have been very hard, because we had to make sure that everything would be alright for the speakers and the audience: so we had lots of meetings, sent lots of emails and made lots of rehearsals to verify that Youtube streaming would work as expected.
Anyway, thanks to this lot of beforehand work, we were quite sure that things would have been good. Here the lesson is: work a lot the days before the event, to make sure that the day of the event everything is organized to be good. Seems obvious, but I think that it’s important to remark it.
Did things go all good?
Of course not :-). You can work the hardest to make everything alright, but Murphy with his laws will come nonetheless and will ruin something.
First of all, the food for the lunch arrived a lot late. When we discovered it, we were quite frightened because it was lunch time, people were hungry and we didn’t know how to distract them. You can’t go on stage and say "Ok, now it would be lunch-time, but there is no lunch yet so we’ll stay here frozen waiting for the food!". You have to find a way to not let people notice there is problem. Gianni had a marvelous idea and said the speaker of the last session to go on and make some demo on the stage: this has been super-useful to keep people watching the session, while we, behind the courtains, were trying to fix things for the lunch. In the end the food arrived and very few people noticed that there have been some issue. Pheeew.
Some speakers came with all the material on their laptop, despite the fact we had said them to give us all the materials beforehand, because we had to run everything on the PC that was performing the Youtube streaming. Even in this case, Gianni had a great idea and used Remote Desktop to let speakers use their PC through the streaming PC.
The setup for the mindwave-reading device took more time than expected and the audience began to grumble. I understood that this was no good, so took the microphone and went on stage to entertain the public saying… something. Well, I felt myself like the commentators of football matches when the match is really boring and they have to say something just to fill the void and don’t let the people to fall asleep while watching TV. I just started saying things about the next talk, maybe stupid things but kept the audience calm until the moment when everything became OK.
The lesson is always the same of every post-mortem: be prepared, because sh*t will happen. Always. And you have to keep your blood cold, think very fast and solve the problem. Come with a solution, even not the smartest one… maybe not the one that makes you appear smart (like me saying random stuff on the stage), but something THAT WORKS.
OK, but was there something that went good?
Almost everything. We went sold-out in 10 days, and had more than 100 people there in the room, and more than 130 in streaming. They’re very good numbers for a such little local event.
There were only very little inconvenients and lots of people made us compliments for how the event went: the topics were super interesting; a lot of people were able to try HoloLens, mindwave-reading devices or our ImmotionRoom solution for the first time in their life; a lot of speakers from startups and communities (like CreHome) were happy to have exchanged some business cards with other people in the room.
It has been a super-event! This was thanks to the fact that we proposed a lot of interesting topics and have spent a lot of time in organizing it the right way.
How has your speech been?
Well, Gianni talked about the difference between AR and VR, while I talked about how to develop in VR using Unity. Then we showcased our ImmotionRoom solution. Our talks went super-great! No problems with the microphone, the audience or the demos. People kept interested.
Some funny stories to add?
Well, in the afternoon I wanted so bad to try mindwave devices that I asked Sebastiano Galazzo to try a little game made by him where there is a little snail on the left part of the screen, that moves towards the right only if you’re concentrated on something. Well, I tried it… but… the snail didn’t move in any way!
Then some people helped me in concentrating, but the snail kept moving and stopping… and so Sebastiano jokingly said to me: "You’re a psychopath with a lot of attention desorders!!". Ahahahahah OK, it’s true I think :-)
What has this event left to you?
First of all, the consciousness that we’re able to organize good events… and the willing to organize a bigger and more important one in the future.
Then the awareness that there is a lot of interest in AR and VR.
Finally some useful contacts for future projects for our startup!
Any final thoughts to add?
We’ve been very happy of this event. We want to thank all the speakers (you can read their names at the official website of the event), especially Clemente Giorio because he made me try the Hololens for a lot of time ;) and thanks a lot to the friends that has come to see us (like Andrea, Claudia and Davide that we met at EIA… or Max, who's working with us to make our demo game).
Hope to see all of you at our next event!