In April of 2018, we set out to create a conference in Chicago. A group composed primarily of volunteers came together to bring Chicago the largest and highest quality blockchain gathering it has ever had. In building the event, we had five guiding principles in mind.
- Put the Right People in the Room
- Networking has a purpose
- Diversity is not an afterthought
- Create opportunities to learn
- Focus on the builders
On August 24th & 25th magic happened at Navy Pier in Chicago as 1,281 builders came to the table to make business deals, meet incredible new friends, and discover the next new thing. Every talk and panel was hand-picked to be the most interesting possible conversation. We had pre-parties and afterparties. Overall, it was a HUGE success!
Put the Right People in the Room
Over 50 influencers and 100 speakers were in attendance. The highlight of the event came during a conversation between Matt Roszak of Bloq and Edmund Moy, the 38th Director of the U.S. Mint. Mr. Moy didn’t waste time getting to the point as he told us that bitcoin would “end the government’s monopoly on money which will allow humans to flourish.” From builders to influencers to business people, this gathering was like no other. Some notable speakers included Brittany Kaiser (Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower), Brian Jenkins (Former CNN Reporter), Jimmy Song, Rumi Morales (Outlier Ventures), the entire Democracy Earth team!
Networking has a Purpose
In the surveys, people really loved being able to meet so many of the speakers and influencers. The pre-party was fantastic and things kept going with the dinners and multiple afterparties coming together for a third-floor private party with drinks and sparklers decorating the room. The conference itself was separated into four tracks: innovation, social good, fintech/markets, and #buidl.
Diversity is Not an Afterthought
Two days of three stages running constantly and every panel had diversity. We had builders from the southside of Chicago and venture capital from China. We had more diverse representation than any blockchain conference I have attended. We simply paid attention and found awesome people doing amazing things. Women led the conversation just as much as the men did because we took the time to examine our efforts even on a short planning time frame.
Create Opportunities to Learn
By intention, we asked that speakers and panelists not spend time discussing how they got into blockchain. Instead, we set up focused conversations on specific topics. If you want beginner information, go to the beginner’s booth or a talk for beginners. If you want a deep conversation about an industry vertical important to you or about developing non-fungible tokens, then attend that panel. We think this is how conferences should work.
Focus on the builders
Builders are the people building our ecosystem. To us this includes artists, entrepreneurs, and influncers. We hosted more builders from top 100 projects than any other event we have seen. Projects representing included: Bitcoin, Ethereum (Consensys), Iota, NEM, Stellar, EOS, Enigma, Zcash, Decred, Nano, Huobi, and more!
Honorable Mention: Don’t let pay to pitch guide decisions
We turned down $200,000+ in sponsors who only wanted to pitch onstage in the middle of the great conversations. This decision added to the quality of the event without a doubt, however, it left us with a loss rather than profit. To compromise, this year we intend to have a pitch stage so the quality content remains uninterrupted.
Overall, we built an event that we would like to attend.