QikPix and SpeakEazy, two startups based out of Normal’s Slingshot CoWork, are heading for the Collision Conference held in New Orleans next week. Each had received invitations to present at the conference and this event marks a milestone in the early stages of their businesses.
Collision is the U.S. event from the people behind Web Summit, and is one of the fast growing tech conferences. It brings together the some of the most exciting speakers with the world’s most disruptive startups. The founders of Twitter, Pinterest, Netflix, Skype, Zappos, Tesla, Dropbox and hundreds more have attended the events. Thousands of tech industry leaders, as well as a select group of early stage startups, hundreds of investors, media and key tech influencers will all be colliding on three days between April 26-28.
PEN sat down to chat with QikPix co-founder Jarek Hamilton and SpeakEazy founder Brandon Frisch, to learn more about the upcoming road trip and what they hope to gain from the experience.
PEN: With so many conferences, seminars, workshops and other events across the country, what was it about Collision Conference that made you want to attend?
JH: For me it’s more than trying to find an investor, but attending with so many other startups who have been there and done it. Meeting founders who can give you helpful advice and have VIP access to investors in a more intimate setting.
BF: To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it before. But one day, Jarek came into Slingshot super excited and was talking about how he got into Collision. I did some research on it and the amount of influential people there excited me. A LOT of really influential people.
PEN: How do you stand out if there are so many other startups and people there?
JH: We’re broken up into different categories beforehand. QikPix is listed under Marketing & Entertainment.
BF: And SpeakEazy is technically listed as Marketing, Enterprise, and Music.
PEN: What are your goals for attending?
JH: Meeting new people and making contacts is my main goal. Like I said, I’m really not that interested in the investors, but I’ve researched who’s going to be there and what their investment type is (early or mid to late stage). People like Neal Dempsey of Bay Partners and Josh Elman of Greylock Partners – it’d be great to meet them, however, I don’t think a check is going to be signed or anything. I’ll be looking seriously hard for a mentor in this type of industry, someone who has been there and done it.
BF: The goal for me and SpeakEazy is to grow my network of business contacts and potential clients not necessarily investors either. I’ve set a goal of getting 30 business contacts and to gain interest from sales managers, communication consultants, employee training directors that are looking for tools and resources for pitches and public speaking.
PEN: What has the prep been like getting ready for the event?
JH: I’ve been prepping for over 3 months. I started back then by creating a list of most of the major VC’s and started marking off those in my field. I trolled Twitter and Snapchat to make connections. The event still kind of snuck up on me within the last couple of weeks. We’ll be working up to the minute before we go and the work continues while we’re there. One cool promotion tool that we came up with was a QikPix Snapchat filter. People will be able to use that filter at select spots in New Orleans which is very unique.
BF: It seems like there’s always a tweak that can be made or something to do. We’ve had delays and snags with promotional things, but this really forced us to design, create and produce something we hadn’t had before. I’ve done my research to see how to present my idea better. I even came up with a new way to explain it, “asynchronous communication,” which is essentially feedback given on your own time.
PEN: What do your schedules look like when you get down to New Orleans?
JH: Day 1 is a learning lesson. I want to see how others are interacting and pitching. I’ll be listening to their messaging and looking at all the entrepreneurs and competition in my field.
BF: Same for me. And on Day 2 we’ll both be presenting.
JH: It actually kicks off with a pub crawl. The conference organizers strategically setup you up by algorithms with groups to go with on the pub crawl.
BF: There are keynote speakers to attend every day on the hour.
JH: The private roundtables are going to be very beneficial. I’m sitting in on a group talking about disruption models that are breaking up industries and the future of mobile monetization.
BF: I agree, the roundtables sessions will be a big deal. My grouping is community development around tech and artificial intelligence.
PEN: Sounds like it will be a lot more work than play.
JH: Definitely. It’s all business.
BF: Yeah, we’re bootstrapping it for sure. We’re all driving down there together and staying in a cheap hotel. It’ll be fun, but a lot of work!
Images via CollisionConf.com