Announcing thesummit.me: an MVP networking experiment

The team behind the Summit are slowly helping to reshape the world of conference and event technology. Many of the world’s leading developer and software conferences have switched to Tito.io in the last 6 months, about 250 thus far, including JSConf, Ruby Conf, Brooklyn Beta and many others. That trend is a precursor to wider adoption. Tito was built by the incredible Paul Campbell, with the tiniest of contributions from Paddy Cosgrave, while the Summit was Tito’s founding partner.

But now we want to go further. Most conferences are dominated and run by media people. At the Summit, our largest team focuses on development and design. We sit in the centre of the office. We think about conferences as engineering and design challenges. And one of those challenges is networking.

Networking has always been at the heart of what we do. Placing thousands of decision makers in the same room inevitably leads to valuable connections and partnerships. These connections and their resulting effects, although hard to quantify, are perhaps the biggest ROI for attendees at our Summits. Connor Murphy, CEO of Datahug, sums this up well here.

As you may be aware, the Summit has grown rapidly over the past 3 years, from 500 in 2010 to 10,000 in 2013. While this is obviously great news, networking is something that’s difficult to scale. The longer our attendee list gets, the more difficult it becomes to network effectively and to separate the signal from the noise. We’ve always said that the Summit is not a magic formula. You can’t just show up and expect to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. You’ll ultimately get out of the Summit what you put in. That said, we’ve always seen it as part of our duty to facilitate networking as best we can.

To that end, while our production team have been busy creating a phenomenal real world experience, including innumerable networking events, our engineering team has been working in their free time on building a simple product to enhance it. We feel that a larger attendee list, when coupled with clever use of technology, can amplify the networking experience, rather than dilute it, and that’s what we aim to do.

This is not an easy feat. There are plenty of companies focussing on it specifically, many of which have kindly offered to help us. But we feel that in the long run, the best experience for our attendees is one that only we can create with our understanding of both software and conferences. There’s a lot more to this, which I’ll explore in another post.

Our original plan was to hold off rolling out our networking feature until next year, but a year is an awfully long time, so we decided to get our heads down and execute the first phases this year. We’re treating this as an experiment, an incredibly rough MVP, and as such are seeking feedback as to how we can improve. Our ultimate aim is to have these features become a key part of the Summit experience in 2014.

We are a technology conference, and want to build technology that revolutionises how people think about conferences.

Over the next few days, we’ll begin to roll out several features to our attendees. These features will allow people to easily search, communicate, and connect with each other, online.

A networking platform is only as good as the users on it, so in order for this to be of any value, we need our attendees to get involved.

Anyone with a valid ticket can log in now at www.thesummit.me and begin filling out their profiles, and those with fully complete profiles will get priority as new features are rolled out.

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