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Collision Conference 2017 Recap: A Melting Pot of Innovation

The BudURL team is back in the office after an action-packed week in New Orleans at Collision 2017. We were chosen as a Beta Startup exhibitor- meaning BudURL is a later stage startup with a more mature model. (As opposed to the brand new, seed-stage startups in the Alpha section.) 
 
Thinking of going to Collision next year? Check out our top experiences from the conference - the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Not really ugly. It's lauded by Forbes as “America’s fastest growing tech conference,” and it vastly exceeded our expectations!)
 
Overall Collision Conference Musings
  • Collision is unique in that startups exhibit for one day only, so each day the show floor had a fresh crop of businesses to explore. From an exhibitor perspective, we would have loved another day to showcase, but as an attendee, the variety was positive. 
  • The accessibility of the featured speakers was impressive. We were especially delighted when Alan Boehme from Coca-Cola, who as the CTO of arguably the most prolific brand in the world, likely has a lot going on, took 30 minutes after his talk to chat with a small group of us. He was incredibly transparent about challenges and new ideas at Coke. Of course, as at any event, some speakers were shuttled directly off-stage never to be seen again, but quite a few took the time to hang out for extended Q&A after their presentation.
  • Communication was a challenge. Collision included a chat function in the conference app, but it quickly got overwhelmed and messages would get hung up for up to 24 hours, which is not ideal for networking. We were all using some combination of the app, LinkedIn, Twitter and other apps to attempt to meet up with people, which got hectic quickly. We hope they figure out a better way next year. 
What Surprised Us
The sheer number of new startups surfacing into the technology market, and the global footprint they are creating. It’s common to crown San Francisco as the chief center of startup growth, but a stroll through the vast conference hall made it abundantly clear that entrepreneurs are making waves all over the world, creating a truly global ecosystem. A great reminder to avoid myopic thinking!
 
Key Program Take-Aways
We were running around from meeting to meeting, but when we did have a chance to take a breather and enjoy some of the excellent programming, there was a key theme that emerged: customer-driven conversations. 
Much of BudURL’s development road map has been focused squarely around customer-driven challenges and wishes, and we truly believe this is the most efficient way to run a technology-based business. Make sure you're solving a problem, not creating a solution in search of a problem! We eagerly anticipate more of the industry shifting to this way of thinking.
 
Trend Talk
As we traversed the show floor, 2 trends for this were clear:
  • AI (no big surprise there.) We did find it interesting how many non-trivial tasks are being outsourced solely to computers - e.g., taking multiple feeds and stitching together a video in real-time. 
  • Micro-focused social networks. In the past few years we’ve seen versions of “the next Facebook” flop over and over again, so those looking to build social networks are becoming very niche-focused. One example of this is Wolfpack, which lets you create “packs” to meet new people with similar interests, like setting up a weekly poker night or bike ride. 
Advice for exhibitors for next year: Think about how you can amplify your presence beyond your allotted 4 feet of booth space. We’re not talking about those expensive stand-alone sign holders or massive amounts of swag, either. We saw some amazing creativity in the realm of floor stickers, inventive lighting, eye-catching outfits, etc. Get a little crazy!
 
Also: DO NOT forget that you are in New Orleans, one of the greatest food cities in the U.S. Throw the diet out the door and eat yourself silly for a few days!
 
The bottom line: we’ll be there again in 2018, and we think you should join us. Have questions we didn’t cover here? Want to know where the amazing food in our header is from? We’d love to chat about our experience! Leave a comment or shoot us an email

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