Originally published on LinkedIn January 11, 2018

 

As we approach Super Bowl’s extravaganza, it’s only right to share an equally high-energy entrepreneurship tech conference. Tuesday Dec 12, 2017 was a cornucopia of insightful speeches from CEOs, Tech leaders, Digiratis and the colliding of who’s who in tech. The pinkish neon mood-light added a kaleidoscopic feel to the hall. If you’re still wondering, or trying to guess which event? It was none other than The Next Web in NYC. Hudson‘s song which became even more popular after featuring in Apple’s 2014 Ad, was the intro for speakers in 2016 & 2017. Hopefully, they’ll keep it. The purpose of this storytelling article is to paint a vivid picture for those who couldn’t attend. Hopefully, this post helps in experiencing the event vicariously. For attendees, it’s a way to relive the moment again. If you were there, or at previous events, post your comment.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Next Web, one of the top online media and tech conference corporations. It’s an honor to pen this exclusive piece. Courtesy of TNW, feel free to indulge and browse event photos, click this Dropbox link.

TNW’s Humble Beginnings

TNW was founded in 2006 by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Patrick de Laive. Paraphrasing Boris’s December 12 after event speech delivered at TechHub; “it all started years ago when we met Michael Arrington.” Quick context, Michael founded TechCrunch which hosts two yearly events in NY and SF, called TechCrunch Disrupt or Disrupt for short. Never despise small beginnings, TNW has achieved a lot in 11 years.

Why Call It The Super Bowl of Tech Conferences?

Watch the first 4.5 minutes of the video below, in addition to the European club music influence, you’ll notice the level of intricate detail integrated into the experience. That’s just the inside, wait until you see what’s outside at the Amsterdam Tech Fest. They may, or may not have pyrotechnics. Based on an apples to apples comparison, the conference has a broad appeal. It’s not limited to one vertical e.g., Ad Tech or Marketing. To clarify, TNW’s event is not being compared to DreamForce, Apple’s WWDC, Oracle’s or similar corporate yearly events. As much as we like those, they’re more for fans who favor a particular brand, or people who use, sell and manufacture parts for products those brands create. TNW’s broader appeal consists of entrepreneurs, VCs, businesses, how to, and how I did it stories. The title is not so much that TNW boasts the most number of attendees, it was an 800 plus event. Rather, it’s because of the quality and overall value. Secondly, from the perspective of someone who’s been to several, I must say TNW is special. Lastly, it’s one of the biggest tech events in Europe, and it has become a huge festival. Netherlands hosts the event’s yearly summer gathering, and 2018 dates are slated for May 24 & 25. The Tech fest is attended by tens of thousands. TNW’s European version is similar to SXSW the differences are, TNW is also a tech publication, and conferences occur on two continents. Without being biased, all events have their unique feel. The experience, and what one gains are what matters most.

My First Time

Although I had read online tech articles from TNW; 2016 was my first time attending, and it was nothing short of spectacular. It happened at BK Cruise Terminal. They made an arena of close to 3,000 capacity feel intimate. CNBC referred to the conference as “The most intimate technology festival on the planet.” That’s an accurate classification. I also met some interesting people and professionals such Purna Virji who works for Microsoft and Jay Malone, whom we sat together during launch.  The after party at Rough Trade Records in Brooklyn was equally fantastic. Tech and Media household names were in the house. I may have seen Boris the founder on the dance floor, busting a move or two and having a great time.

* Dec 2017 video is not yet available, however here’s Amsterdam’s 2017 summer vid *

 

What Was It Like, Takeaways, Goodies and Backstage?

I didn’t think it was possible, but 2017 was equally great, with a different vibe. 2016 featured Alexis Ohanian, the Co Founder of Reddit, now husband of Serena Williams. He gave an impassioned speech about immigration reform in Tech, plus entrepreneurs sad and lonely stories, the version that people do not hear about. He deglamorized entrepreneurship by being human and talked about several failures before success. There was no after party in 2017, but there was a smaller and more exclusive gathering at TechHub. I met a CEO between 25 to 28 years old, I had seen him on tech shows and interviews for years. We spoke about the industry at large, and his $30 Million funded startup. Regarding backstage juicy stories, I went where the speakers hung out; a 300 feet square space, unfortunately, I’m sorry to say there was nothing salacious to report.

 

Foodies & Goodies

Not that the possibility arose, but in order for patrons and attendees not to get fed up, they fed everyone 3 times within 6 hours. This excludes Brooklyn and the after event. My camera snapped the photo on the left, I chose the salmon dish, they had chicken too. Courtesy of TNW, feel free to indulge and browse event photos, click this Dropbox link.

**Left photo: Food from the event ** Right photo: Restaurant wine & dine meal**

Food Galore

(1) Food at the event (2) Food for speakers & friends (3) Food at the private event (4) After event hors d’oeuvre. I’ve never been to a big conference that went the extra mile in terms of gastronomic experience. No complaints in the food department, dank je!

 

2017 Main Stage Speakers

 

 

Eike Batista and Advantages of Networking

Networking is a great way to improve the quality of one’s LinkedIn contacts, boost career acceleration and meeting like minded professionals. Today’s contacts may end up being tomorrow’s partners, you never know. There’s an association or Meetup group for almost everything and certainly most industries. Being active at external work events help broaden one’s horizon of what’s new, or more efficient ways of doing what we do daily. I cannot overemphasize its importance.

 

On Nov 13, 2012: I attended a conference hosted by a large Brazilian Financial Institution. The audience were South American industrialists from oil, gas and mining who came to the U.S. to raise funds. I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Eike Batista one on one. He’s the charismatic Brazilian billionaire who said he’ll be wealthier than Bill Gates and Carlos Slim. Unfortunately he lost his fortune due to the collapse of energy prices and other factors. His net worth in 2012 was $30 Billion, here’s a CNBC video report.

Conclusion

If you’ve never been to either of TNW’s NYC or Amsterdam conferences/Tech Fest, I recommend them. TNW looks forward to meeting you later this year. If you’re feeling adventurous, fly over, you’re invited to the Netherlands this summer May 24 & 25.

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