10 smiling team faces in front of Philadelphia city hall

A respite from Philly Tech Week kickoff rainouts

Those closest to me are familiar with this painfully, long-running inside joke: these elaborate outdoor Philly Tech Week kickoff events I organize always happen with comically poor weather. Philly Tech Week is an annual, open calendar of events on technology, entrepreneurship and innovation that I help curate with my company.

That string of rainouts changed in May 2019, when an afternoon shower gave way to warm sunshine.

A beloved events producer of mine turned to me that afternoon and proclaimed: “We have turned a corner and won’t have any more rained out kickoffs!” Given that that 2019 edition was something of a dry-run for 10th annual Philly Tech Week to take place in May 2020, that seemed like a thrilling prediction. In 2020, we would have the largest, best-planned, most interactive kickoff ever, with the help of perfect weather, as I had always envisioned. This memory made me laugh out loud this week because, last month, I hosted the second consecutive all-virtual Philly Tech Week due to the pandemic. Fatima, you were right, no more rainy outdoor kickoffs!

The goal of the outdoor kickoff that eludes me is not a trivial one. I’ve always been enamored by the idea of creating an event with interactive technology without walls, making it truly as accessible as possible. We’ve sure accomplished this but we’ve never quite gotten the weather that would make it what I’ve dreamed.

It happens, but the joke is too good to not reflect on.

  • 2012: Indy Hall Block Party — torrential rain
  • 2013: Cira Centre Pong @ Art Museum — torrential rain (a severe storm warning cancelled the Mayoral speech)
  • 2014: Cira Centre Tetris @ Eakins Oval — unseasonable weather in the 40s (I remember saying: at least it isn’t raining)
  • 2015: Arcade @ Dilworth Park — torrential rain forced a postponement from Friday to Saturday (the photo above is our team under gray skies on the Saturday after we postponed)
  • 2016: Arcade @ Dilworth Park — scattered showers scared away several vendors and a portion of attendees
  • 2017: Startup Crawl — scattered showers
  • 2018: Kickoff Schmidts Commons — scattered showers, though for the first year, we partnered with another organization so this
  • 2019: N3rd Street Kickoff @ Linode — afternoon showers gave way to sunshine!
  • 2020: virtual, no outdoor kickoff to be rained out!
  • 2021: virtual, the 3D VR kickoff wasn’t rained out!

I couldn’t tell you right now if this is any better than a rainout.

and this