Access, Diversity, World-Class Content and Value
If you’ve attended one of our events before you’ve probably noticed certain principles are extremely important to us. If you haven’t, they will become evident quickly. While you might not agree with everything, or anything for that matter, we’re ok with it. It’s who we are.
1. Access matters
While there is nothing wrong with making money, we choose to price our registration fees in a way that encourages and enables access (as in get in the door) for the ‘normal’ person. We happen to believe open source, open tech, and the open web are the future, that we’re only at the beginning of this ‘wave’, and that the country and industry need good people with these skills and this expertise. The question for us becomes – how does someone learn new things, meet new people, and see the technologies and thought leaders up- close if opportunities like conferences aren’t accessible? How do people that haven’t traditionally participated in the ‘open’ community meet like-minded friends and future colleagues if great events again aren’t accessible? The answer is they usually don’t – and that’s a shame. We are dead-set on changing this by keeping costs low and welcoming each and every attendee with a big, huge smile and “thank you”. We want attendees to come back and feel welcome, and we guarantee people will feel this way when they leave.
We also mean ‘access’ in another way. If you’ve ever attended an event and heard a great speaker, yet didn’t have a chance to talk to them because they were swarmed by 54 people after talking or quickly ducked out a side door, you know where we’re going with this. We have, and always will, ask our world-class speakers to stick around and hang out with attendees after talks and at socials. This, happy to say, happens a lot. We are amazed by the number of people that regularly tell us “I can’t believe I just talked to x speaker for 15 minutes while drinking a beer. I’ve been reading about them for years.” This makes our hearts feel good. This is what it’s all about.
We don’t give diversity lip service, and we do everything possible to create it at our events. How do we do this in the technology and ‘open’ space? As previously stated, we keep costs low to ensure people just getting started, and those not making six figures, and those not sponsored by a large company, can actually afford to attend. We also create an environment that everyone feels welcomed, appreciated, and secure. We often lead emails, welcome statements, and other communication with our attendance policy, and we make no apologies for it. Our attendees are perhaps at risk of being “thanked to death”, but they better not be disrespected in any way. Finally, we absolutely, and rather fanatically, court diverse groups to attend and participate, and we guarantee you’ll notice this if you attend. We have proudly ‘set the pace’ in this area in a variety of ways, and we will continue to do so – because it’s important.
3. World-class content and value
Why are “world-class content/speakers” and “accessibility” way too often mutually exclusive? This has never made any sense to us, and never will. We are absolutely and totally obsessed with making great content available at a fair cost – and creating tremendous value in the process. We want hard working, motivated individuals to attend, learn, and contribute back to the community or even become a world-class speaker/thought- leader themselves. Perhaps it’s the way we were raised that impacted our view and eventual perspective, but we want people leaving the conference to say “I can’t believe I heard all those great speakers, learned all those new things, and met all those new people for that price.” We are extremely proud to say we hear that often in post-event surveys and emails. We wouldn’t have it any other way.