It seemed like a good idea at the time... We spotted an opportunity to snap up a small but successful local social media conference and we did it. But what exactly is buying a conference? What do you get? Truth is... we had no idea.
There was a name which we liked (The Online Influence Conference - OiConf for short). There was a logo (which we weren't so keen on but it was recognisable). There was an attendee list (c. 200 email addresses), and the least tangible - but most important asset - tremendous good will towards the event and it's ideals. We just had to look back through #oiconf tweets to know that people wanted this. That was enough for me (us, the agency).
A deal was done at a service station over a coffee and a handshake, and from the moment I started my drive home, Oi 2.0 was being shaped. I switched on my phone's voice recorder and blurted out all the ideas I could think of; clients, past clients, venue options, speakers, innovations, playlists for the after drinks, partnerships, transport, hotels, signage, goody bags, event staff... the list went on. And on. And it grew as the event drew closer.
My approach to buying Oi was quite typical of my approach to most things - 'get among it' (crass but concise). If I'd outlined all the requirements and permutations I wouldn't have gone ahead. But I (we) did. The resulting journey took me from Wales to Germany, to London, to Dublin as I pestered and harassed contacts from Mediacom, Google, You Tube, Twitter, Linked In, Hootsuite, Student Beans, Brandwatch. Some came, some stayed away but ultimately we delivered a great event to 200 attendees and enjoyed every step of the process.
Now we're doing it again, only bigger... a LOT bigger and I'm scared all over again. This time we've got 600 attendees, an exhibition hall, over 20 speakers from the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Adobe, Salesforce, Macmillan Cancer support, Coral, Just Eat and many more.
I think it was Richard Branson who said "If your dreams don't scare you they're not big enough" and I totally agree. This year's Conference is costing us a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of stress and a lot of worry but it's all great fun and we're creating something special. This isn't a test anymore, it's an event that we plan to scale to become one of the UK's largest. There's a big space between Dublin's Web Summit and the myriad of events that happen in London... and we plan to fill it. You could come along for the ride - just pop over to Oi15.com for more info and to book your tickets! I'll see you in May :)