I organized my own conference with NFTs like Gary Vee in 30 days
This year (2021 for the visitors from the future), I run my first own conference: “V as in Metaverse”. It didn’t have thousands of attendees (because there is a thing called COVID-19) but it had NFTs as tickets, tons of sponsors and happened in the best place you can be for the summer — Greece. If you don’t believe me ask Jeff or Justin.
You can read the story how (and why) this conference started right here.
Feel free also to check some highlights on my Instagram. Here we go.
Took me 1 month to organize it and execute it (while I was vacationing in Greece)
It is the same effect as in weddings. If you have one year, it will take you one year of planning. If you have 1 week, it will take you one week of planning. Not relevant but my wedding took me 1 week from planning to execution. Some people call this (the effect, not my wedding) the Parkinson’s Law.
Obviously, you either need to cut corners or have an epic team helping you out. I am blessed that I had an amazing community helping out, making intros to sponsors, even helping with coordination and finding us space. I love you all!
Take away: Don’t over-thinking it and don’t over-engineer it.
Use NFTs as tickets
I built my own NFT ticketing system and used it, front-running Gary here (sorry Gary). If you want to learn more about the technology and how to create your own NFT tickets (it is trivial and free!), check this post (create your own NFT tickets for free in less than 1 minute).
For “V as in MetaVerse” I wanted people to experience “The Metaverse” and it was important for me to have everyone buy NFTs and use a cryptowallet. If we used “normal” tickets it would be lame (Bitcoin 2021 in Miami — I am looking at you). So I did the thing I know really well: destroying my vacations by writing smart contracts.
The videos from the conference (we had a professional team from LA flying to Athens to document everything — thank you N&T) are going to be available to people that attended the event and own the NFT. How awesome is that!
Take away: Practice what you preach. A crypto conference without using crypto is hilariously lame.
More than 3200 subscribers in 2 weeks
Do you want to build a community? Be yourself and have fun. I was posting content non-stop and I was even posting videos while I was on vacations about how the conference was progressing. Of course we had tons of media sponsors and TV/Radio channels that kept pushing on.
Take away: Be helpful, add value and keep pushing. Don’t bullshit.
COVID-19 strict restrictions (everyone must be tested or provide tests)
This was the most challenging part. Checking tests, wearing masks and not being able to have more than 50 people in one space. We could have done the conference in an open space but screen glaring and no WiFi was a no-go. Other than that, once you were inside the space (and your NFT ticket was scanned and verified), you were safe.
Take away: Minimize red-tape and restrictions and if necessary, add them in the beginning of the experience.
Do more of fun stuff — less of boring stuff
Podiums and slides are terrible. Please stop doing this. We copied the format from my podcast Silicon Beach and all the presentations were fireside chats (or as I like to call them “firechats”). EVERYONE loved them and most of the audience stayed for 6 hours listening to the speakers. On a Saturday. In Greece. During the summer. Yes, it was that awesome.
Being able to talk with world class speakers is more interesting, engaging and the audience enjoys it way more. Do more of fun stuff, less of boring stuff.
Take away: Run your favorite conference. Feel free to do stuff differently.
I got epic speakers flying in from the biggest companies on the planet
People flew from LA, NY, Monaco, London just to participate in my conference. I am forever grateful to them because this was a blast.
We gave 2500 euros (~$3000) to participants of the hackathon (yes, we even had a hackathon)
Some of the teams never wrote a smart contract before. But they did their first transaction on the blockchain and figured out how authentication works, how off chain solutions might be faster but have issues, what are these “gas fees” etc. Some teams came by train (6 hours) from Thessaloniki and kicked ass.
Don’t overthink it
My motto built to fail has never failed me.
This wasn’t the first time I was organizing an event. I have organized hundreds of events in San Francisco, Europe even in Japan and I was even the organizer of a Google User Technology Group (GTUG) so I had a good idea of how to run an event. Of course going from organizing small meetups to organizing a conference under my own brand was a huge leap of faith but you’ll never know unless you try :)
Was it easy?
Oh no. Not easy AT ALL. I was crazy stressed and during the conference I skipped eating because I was the host of the firechats. But we had so many speakers and not a lot of time and I had to squeeze everyone in.
But it was very gratifying. Most people from the conference went for food afterwards and I had the clarify of fasting plus being around friends and intelligent people in my favorite place in the world. Awesome feeling. But the 29 days before that were not fun :)
Things that didn’t work out
- We had 14 more sponsors that wanted to participate (and they have already signed up for next years’ conference!) but I didn’t have time to on-board them, collect payments and get their images and websites. I know it sounds easy but I had tons of other things that HAD to happen and I couldn’t outsource this. So, one thing I should do is make the process of onboarding automated or at least easier to be done by someone else than me. Definitely a “fail” moment.
- Swag. Our swag provider didn’t deliver on time. So we had no swag for the conference. Buuuuuut I am going to send swag to everyone that got a ticket.
- Duration. It should have been a 3-day conference. 7 hours firechats are brutal. In my defence, I never thought we’ll have all these amazing speakers flying to the event.
- Food. Damn you COVID! We were not allowed to bring food to the conference so in my “built-to-fail” fashion, I started going to “private lunches” with each team separately. Money was not an issue (thank you again sponsors!) but having to eat 5 times in Day One and 0 in Day Two was not balanced.
f you made it this far, thank you and I would love to hear what you think. Send me a message on Discord (or an email) — I always respond to all emails.
If you liked this, there are more cool stories about Startups and crypto at Jon.IO.