Slush Shanghai 2019 was a grand celebration of global tech and startups. It got me thinking about standing out as a tech conference.
I have a conflicting opinion of such events.
They allow thousands of people to hear cool topics directly from thought leaders. And at the same time, they create the hope for dozens of startups that they’ll get noticed by media and investors.
As a community builder and somebody generally in touch with the latest ideas and robust network, tech conferences don’t create something unique.
Slush Shanghai works to change the situation. They aim at going beyond the physical space and pay extra attention to content and experience.
As an attendee, you can listen to new ideas, test products, buy swags, and experience some cool technologies. You can also book a business matchmaking session with another attendee or attend an intense pitching session. There is also a substantial diversity of format with different stages: keynote on broad topics at the Mountain Stage, awards on the Iceberg stage, and intimate fireside chats at the Forrest Stage.
Yes, attendees can hear the same content as the other 12,000 attendees, but they can also tailor-make their personalized journey.
I would be curious to see how that looks like in the back end.
They pay attention to their speakers as well. Most conferences would typically expect speakers to show up 30 minutes in advance and head to the stage directly. Slush did a great job in training volunteers (local bilingual students) to support speakers ahead of their talk.
Milo was the volunteer helping me find my way, and he was pretty awesome. Beyond making sure I had everything needed to be relaxed, he had extensive knowledge of the conference and its activities. He took his role seriously and made my experience special. We are still in touch on WeChat!
Overall though, the value that I seek at conferences will remain the opportunity to catch up with friends and meet with peers. A large tech conference is the opportunity to block some time or fly in town. That gives a great chance to mingle with people from the trade.
Meeting with other speakers backstage makes this experience worth it.
I enjoyed being at Slush Shanghai 2019. I moderated a cool panel on Enterprise Tech Unicorns in China with Kapil Kane from Intel, Dow Wang from Moseeker, and Chee-We Ng from Oak Seed Ventures (who wrote an interesting article about the topic on LinkedIn).
XNode had a booth there too. That gave us a chance to talk about our new positioning and how we help large corporations identify how to innovate in China.