TL;DR: The event was very successful!
First and foremost, thanks to everybody that not only believed in the concept but actively helped us through this journey.
I posted about the concept on October 20, 2016, in "THE CONF Initiative" blog post. Everybody that has been paying attention to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Facebook Groups (Ruby on Rails, Go, Xamarin, Security, etc) saw the SEVERAL posts I have been doing in the past few months in multiple channels (sorry for the mini spam).
In the very same day I got this e-mail from InfoQ (who I didn't know before):
This is how InfoQ joined us. They directly sponsored all the video recording and editing, and they will upload all the talks for free in their channels. I'll update this post and the social network pages when they do.
I opened the Call for Papers by March of 2017 and it remained open until May 31. And I kept trying to find people in private to fill in the many gaps. Although we had 80 proposals (to fill in 30 slots), it's always hard work. I didn't call out to anyone directly until very after the Call for Papers closed.
Let me be very clear: this event is not supposed to supersede or replace any existing event in Brazil. They are doing an amazing job in many different areas. From a focus on beginners up to enterprise and specific techs.
THE CONF is primarily a "CODE ONLY" event, prioritizing A.I./Machine Learning (which I will have to search harder), Data Sciences, Gaming, and preferably non-Web or Advanced-Web topics. It's meant for anyone with hands-on and ongoing experience in those fields to present their most current experience.
Of all the speakers that were selected, only 2 had to drop out for personal reasons. When I selected the Ruby Code Style talk, then I saw it was Gabi Stefanini, she asked to put his good friend Volmer from Shopify together. Unfortunately, he had a health issue and couldn't fly from Canada, I hope he's ok now. Fortunately, Paulo Diniz, who came from Germany, was able to fill in on the final debate panel.
At least 2 slots remained opened, and for many reasons, I kept them open until the very last minute, when many private invitations I made didn't pan out, I had to resort to my good friends Bernardo and Victor from Stone Pagamentos, and Esdras and Julien. Because I waited for responses that never came for too long, they only had a couple of days to prepare for the event. I thank them very much for accepting such rough conditions and still delivering good talks.
All the speakers were phenomenal, not one of them were late (and many of them traveled from very far to participate). They all had their talks prepared and trained. They all respected the slot time. And they were all friendly to everybody. I could not have asked for more.
Are we RICH already? :-D
Of course not! ¯_(ツ)_/¯ That was never the intention.
I've been organizing events for the past 10 years. As I explained in my "The Next 10 Years" post, I never directly had any profits on any events I delivered. I do them because I have the core belief that by helping others to improve I increase my own chances of growing up in this industry.
My full-time job is CTO of Code Miner 42, my own company. And my main priority is the well-being of the more than 65 families that depend on our success. So every event I organize eats up my own life as I wouldn't risk my responsibilities with my direct employees.
So, the sole organizers of this event are myself, my Code Miner partner and co-founder Rodrigo, and part-time of one good friend of mine with experience in events infrastructure. 2 and 1/2 people.
Who else? Leandro from C4Media/InfoQ is exclusively helping with posts and now with the video editing and publishing of the content, his company paid for that directly.
Who else? The speakers are amazing, each and every one of them came on their own, on the same belief that by helping and inspiring other people they will also increase their own chances of success. If I could I would pay them to come, but I can't. Which is why I really want to highlight how important they are. Some of them came from very far: Canada, Germany, USA.
That being said, as I don't have any non-disclosure agreements with anyone else I can finally show you how much it costs to produce an event like this:
|Renting Rebouças Convention Center||29,437.02|
|Audio and Visual||27,000.00|
|700 Snack Kit||5,000.00|
|Wifi for Speakers||2,500.00|
So yes, we are short BRL 50,000, at least. And I am not even adding the more than BRL 2,000 (approximately as I have Code Miner stuff in the mix) of Google Ads and Facebook Post Boosts. There are more costs involved, but that's the ballpark.
Who paid those 50 grand? I did.
I didn't spend too much time looking for sponsors as I knew the concept was too unproven. We could have had 10 attendees for all we knew. So Code Miner decided to prove the concept on its own.
This is not a surprise, from day one, we knew how much we would have to invest to see this through. This is all part of the plan. Don't worry, we are aiming for the long-term here.
Of course, we had shortcomings. Unfortunately, we were not able to add breakfast or coffee, or high-speed public Wi-fi, or more perks. I hope next year we find sponsors to help out with those items. And again, to be clear, any sponsorship never comes to me. The sponsors pay the suppliers directly.
If your company wants to sponsor those missing items, please contact us.
Did it work?
It paid back in spades already.
Shortcomings aside, the main question was: would it be feasible to have Brazilians speak English to a Brazilian audience? And more: would Brazilians pay to come and see other Brazilians speaking in English?
Yes, to both!
With more than 300 people paying with their own coin, we now know for sure that this concept not only works, but it fills a gap that no one else was delivering.
My opening keynote was a shout out to every Brazilian to lose their fears of speaking in English. We will soon have more than 30 recorded talks of Brazilians speaking about many different interesting tech-only topics. Once this concept spreads, more and more people around the world will not only notice but value us accordingly. This is a long-term plan, but the first step was very successful.
We did have at least 2 foreigners in the audience that I met personally (one British, one German) who were able to be in the audience during the 2 days and finally being able to understand everything we were saying. Now we can confidently invite our neighbor friends in countries such as Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, etc. Who knows, if next year we can close the gap between all of us and make new friends.
The website is called "theconf.club" because the idea is not to create a monopoly on English-spoken events in Brazil. More than half of the attendees came from out of São Paulo city. From what I heard, they were all inspired by all the speakers, and they left with a renewed sense of duty and hope.
This is already one immediate result that I hope more people copy: "São Paulo Programming Meetup in English". It doesn't matter how you do it. If it's a 100 people event, or even if it's a 5 people gathering if it's a public meetup or a private tech talk in your company or college. Just do it! Start practicing.
Why do I incur so much financial "loss" and hard work far exceeding my job description? Take a very close look at this photo. They are students from Brasilia University. They drove 15 hours to come see this event. Those are the only kind of people I care about whenever I think it's too hard.
Now, we have a lot of work to do. As I said before, we all do this in our spare times, and we use the sweat of our brows to make it happen.
We are about to close the contract with a convention center to fix the dates for next year (probably September, follow us to see confirmation).
Call for Papers will open around March 2018 (again, follow us to participate). As usual I will use as many communication channels as I can, but everybody can help spreading the word. As it was this year, there are no restrictions to participate, only follow the core concept of the conference: English-Only talks about Advanced Tech-Only having Hands-On experience with them.
We will publish all the high-quality photographs on our Facebook Page.
We need more sponsors - not to make a profit, mind you - but to provide attendees with more perks: Wifi (did you know good Wifi equipment and bandwidth costs BRL 20k?? Yep, not cheap), Food, Beverage, etc. And to provide speakers more conditions to participate.
This is an email I got TODAY:
This is how people that genuinely want to help are reaching out.
Keep training and spreading the concept in your city and groups. If you have meetup pages, send them to us (@theconfbr) and we will retweet them.
- Want to sponsor? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Want to keep updated? Follow our Twitter account or Facebook Page.
- We are starting a YouTube Channel and Instagram account
- All the video recordings at InfoQ
The 2017 edition was successfully delivered. Preparations for 2018 edition, starts now!
Rapture THE CONF!