This is what the fastest growing tech conference in North America looks like. ☝️
Ever since I married an Irishman and moved to Ireland a few years back, I have been following Paddy Cosgrave and his business brain children: Web Summit (Lisbon), Collision Conference (Toronto – formerly in New Orleans) and RISE (Hong Kong).
I was fresh off a move from Brisbane, Australia, where I had been working for a company that hosts the largest national conference for vocational education and training professionals – hiya, Velg Training! 👋 But at 1,000+ ish delegates, it pales in comparison to Paddy’s events, which host upwards of 25,000 – 75,000+ attendees. THOUSANDS. AND THOUSANDS.
I have always been involved with events, attending them, planning them, writing about them. From school and hospital fundraisers to workshops, gallery openings, webinars, conferences, breakfasts, cocktails, hell, even my own trans-Atlantic wedding where we hosted people from three different continents in Galway, Ireland.
Behind the varying degrees of glamour, stress and buzz created by the lights, the stages, the speakers, the insights, the food, the drink, the networking, the parties, the media, lies a big commonality between all of the above styles of events: spreadsheets, checklists, run sheets and lots of frequent communication.
To put on any kind of event, you are going to need to get comfortable with a bit of admin, a lot of hospitality and heaps of checking in. Twice. Three times. Oftentimes more.
Collision Conference didn’t disappoint on any of those fronts and as mentioned in my previous post, I also encountered a few attendees who brought their babies. 🙌
When I inquired about bringing mine, I was met with the following, lovely and practical response:
Thanks so much for reaching out.
We don’t advise children to attend our conferences. However, if you are in a situation where you need to bring a child with you, please go to registration on the day. Here our team can give the child access to the conference free of charge. We also provide a parent and baby room at the venue. This will be clearly marked on our conference map when it’s released.
It should be noted, our policy is for children under 3.
Otherwise, attendees under the age of 18 must have a valid ticket and be accompanied by an adult chaperone up until the point of conference registration/accreditation collection.
Chaperones are not required to attend the conference provided their youth attendee(s) is/are aged 16 or over but are welcome to do so provided they purchase a valid ticket.
Hope this helps and see you there!
Maybe it’s the Irish origins of the company based in Dublin and the accompanying famous hospitable nature that sticks to most people’s memory after a visit to the country.
Or perhaps Paddy and his team have mastered events administration city and all of the hard grafting and technical streamlining that must go on.
The biggest tech party around
It’s the only event of its’ kind in Canada–perhaps North America–they have aspirations to grow it to 70,000+ as with their Portugal flagship, Web Summit and it had 45.7% female representation in 2019. Clearly, I wasn’t the only woman in the room at this industry event.
Which is reassuring as a parent who sometimes needs to babywear, breastfeed, bend over to chase little kids and expose the inevitable ‘mum bum’, pitch to strangers while sopping up drool on my shirt, the usual.
I was pretty well sold when I bought my Women in Tech ticket in February and was prepared to bring the whole family with me but I ended up going solo, which was a nice break and enabled me to have a more flexible schedule.
But had we all rocked up, I would have felt safe in the knowledge we would be welcome after the above email exchange and THIS POST on Paddy’s social media feeds:
Oh, stop it Collision Conference just take my money already!
Paddy for Taoiseach! (That’s Prime Minister of Ireland…whose spot is already taken by Leo, though). The man does get political on his Twitter feed, freedom of speech and all.
Ok, so I didn’t spend much on my ticket as I was kindly gifted a promo code from the organizers to purchase a discounted Women in Tech ticket and to be honest, at close to $1,000 per ticket including taxes, plus the trip required to get from Ottawa to Toronto and the fact I am currently unemployed and looking after a baby, I probably would have passed on attending otherwise.
If you’re keen to attend next year–with or without your kids–they currently have a 2 for 1 offer ($790+ taxes) on registration (not an affiliate link or sponsored ad, just an fyi) but I personally will be holding off for now.
As a parent, things change often and although I do have the dates of next year’s event marked off in the diary (June 22-25, 2020), I will see how the family and my work situation is closer to late winter/early spring.
Meeting my people (and their babies)
I didn’t get a chance to visit the parent and baby facilities but I did meet some lovely people and their babies, who I will hopefully be interviewing on the blog in future to share their stories and experiences during Collision.
I have attended Google’s Campus London Startup School and the Unbound Conference in London, England while my first son was a baby and CreativeMornings Ottawa as a presenter and #BYOBaby attendee, Impact Academy and Startup Canada Day On The Hill Conference in Ottawa, Canada with my second son who is still a baby, so it will be fun to compare notes!
Until then, scroll for some more repeat pictures of the ones from my last post, I was too busy listening in to panel sessions and navigating the crowded demo and exhibitor floors to be snapping more photos. I probably would have run into a booth, another attendee or a food truck. 🤓
If you attended or subscribed to the newsletter, you would have received event highlights from each day and you can also go back through the app to watch sessions you missed.
For those who didn’t attend, there are blog posts on the Collision Conference website and tons of media coverage, just leave it to Google News and it’ll sort you out!
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