In March of this year, 2012, I remember first hearing about the event. It was publicly announced in one of the early renditions of WPLateNight. I remember thinking this sounds like something interesting. So much so that I took a minute to write my first impression and what I understood the event to be about. I think it is fair to say that it did not disappoint and my understanding was spot on.
Amidst the silent whispers in virtual corners and public naysayers the event made its first appearance in Chandler, Arizona last week and did so in style. Although there were various glitches along the way, none were overwhelming enough to say the event was anything but a success. In doing so, cementing a home for all businesses within the WordPress ecosystem.
When I first wrote about it I categorized what I thought the event would be about:
- Target demographic – WordPress Businesses
- A place that businesses can collaborate
- Enriching and educating those same businesses
- Growth of the industry
While the growth and extension of the platform was an obvious byproduct, the real focus was on those that built companies on it. I think this was an important distinction to make. Interesting enough it was good to see that the commercial side of the house was supported by a commercial event, it felt so right.
Raising the bar…
As an event it was fundamentally different from any other WordPress related event I have been too, specifically WordCamps. It was able to bring together an impressive list of speakers that extend beyond the WordPress boundaries. Some of those honorable mentions include:
- Chris Drake – CEO at Firehost
- Collis Ta’eed – CEO at Envato
- Marcus Nelson – Founder at Addvocate
- Mikkel Svane – CEO at Zendesk
- Ward Andrews – Founder at Drawbackwards / Design
- Gregarious Narain – Co-Founder GetShute
As an attendee, specifically a business owner, this was very important to me. We were after not only the personal and professional relationships made outside of the event, but also looking to enrich and expand our existing company through the stories of more mature and established ones. That’s exactly what they did, it was clear these presenters were no strangers to the stage and their business acumen was clear from the first slide. The presentations ranged from financial responsibility, raising capital to organizational challenges and successes; each seemed to apply to each of us a little differently and that is what made it so great.
Do not be fooled though…
By far some of the better moments were spent at the SanTan cantina just across the way. More deals and relationships were brokered in that bar than any other place at the event. It’s a shame the bar did not offer free alcohol in the place of a match-makers fee. It was also a place that existing partnerships and relationships were built upon.
Business relationships are much more than pieces of paper and monetary exchanges; that cantina was a witness to that.
A Big Thanks
Josh shared a story of the relationships he made at SXSW in 2008, I believe, that helped him create and operate his business today. He expressed his wish that we would all, if nothing else, walk away with a new relationship, and I am here to say that I know I did. For that I am grateful and look forward to next year’s date so that I can get on the calendar.
Thank you Josh and Sally and the Page.ly team for an awesome event.