For the fourth annual Baltimore Innovation Week, we at Technical.ly exercised a wide range of event formats. Years into exploring events as mission delivery and revenue accrual and marketing balance, we still need to get better. But I continue to be proud of what we accomplish.
To show that, I want to highlight a few event formats I was personally proud to be a part of during #BIW15, which featured 57 events during 10 days and close to 10,000 people — it was big, bigger even than last year. (Find a wrap of this #BIW15 here.)
Surely you can understand what an enormous team effort goes into planning, organizing and implementing something like this. We have a strong editorial team (shout out reporter Stephen Babcock, plus editor Zack and data geek Cary!) and a growing business team (thank you Hilary Geisbert, plus BJK, Alisha and Peter) but I want to make special note to our Events Manager Catherine Sontag, who led the effort short-handed after a longtime team member moved on leading into the week. Thank you. (Thanks also to many volunteers, too many to name).
So though there were dozens of truly interesting events that shared valuable information, connected interesting people and pushed forward important ideas, here I’m focusing on different formats to convey the options and hope to inspire you.
- Stakeholdership — We do regular small, private gatherings with different community leaders in the places we work. This pre-BIW15 one was particularly special, as we had a pointed conversation on appropriately sharing perspective in the forming Baltimore mayoral election. As a news organization, it was vital stakeholdership.
- Tour — We did an ‘Innovation Crawl’ where we walked a group of more than 75 between a half-dozen local tech firms located in downtown Baltimore. The mission was to show density and rally a group to our kickoff. It fit our curation strengths. We were part of something similar during Philly Tech Week, though this was a more cohesive tour group and included unfinished space.
- Arcade — We had a dozen local game, app and hardware companies outside a busy bar district with a local food truck coalition for our official Kickoff with thousands of people coming through. This format was at its best this year — maybe 40 percent of people were there for #BIW15 and the rest were there for the bars and came to know our community.
- Private Roundtable — With the support of an important sponsor, we organized an invite-only lunchtime discussion on the tech commercialization community of Baltimore. It was thoughtful and put an influential group of leaders in a room together in a new ways. This prefaced a more public event on the same topic and resulted in two reported pieces.
- Case Study Conferences — We’re still refining our conference skillset and this year we had another sold out Future of Digital Marketing conference in which we had deep and serious case studies. We still need to push all of our speakers to be more action-orientated in what they share but the ticketed event formats work best when they’re truly for learning and professional development — which is why the post sharing those lessons was shared widely.
- Partnered Gala — We have always held a ticketed closing party to bring together the broad constituency of a multi-faceted event like this and to bring in revenue to help support our year-round efforts. This year, we decided the right thing for our broader community in Baltimore was to step back and be a contributor to Beta City, led by popular incubator Betamore. The event had more than 1,000 true community members in attendance and was the beginning of something special. I’m proud we took a step back to be collaborative.
- Business Storytelling — To cap our Business Day, we hosted our now annual #Failfest, in which we had a dozen entrepreneurs tell true, honest stories of failure. They were emotional and honest and truly powerful. We can talk about failing fast and other cliche, but until someone stands on a stage near tears and shares how hard the struggle is, others might not be ready to do the same.
We keep testing and improving the events we do. We do the same in very nearly everything we try at Technically Media. I’m proud to be a part of it.