It’s very exciting to see how the Magento community is evolving. The geography of Meet Magento events covers more than 20 countries, and growing.
This year, we all can be attendees of a new type of a Meet Magento event – Meet Magento World.
We talked to Guido Jansen about the details of this great event.
— Hey Guido, thanks for the opportunity to talk about things! First of all, you’ve got a new position inside the Meet Magento association – Vice President for Western Europe. Congrats on that! Could you tell us a little bit more about your activities within that new role?
— Thanks! The role is quite new indeed, and we also had to figure out what I will exactly do within it. It is important not only for me – but also for Kuba Zwolinski (Vice President East Europe) and for Thai Son Nguyen (Vice President SE Asia) to stay in contact with the local markets and Meet Magento’s.
And we are present at the markets not only via Meet Magento, but also via other e-commerce events and projects. We connect with a lot of e-commerce companies. The main role of a VP in the Meet Magento association is facilitating Magento merchants developers and partnerships in the local markets.
— Now, to the Meet Magento World conference. Who was behind the idea of an online event?
— That was me. I attended and spoke at a similar event in April, it was a Conversion World conference, a three-day online event. I thought this could be a very cool idea for a Magento conference.
When it comes to local offline Meet Magento’s, all of them have differences, but what unites them is really good content. Sometimes, it’s hard to get this amazing content out of the country. We do have some international speakers traveling around, but for a lot of people that’s not an option both on the speaker’s side and the visitor’s side.
So, in order to spread that content and to combine the best speakers and content from Meet Magento events, we’re doing this conference. This is a chance for everyone in the world to get this knowledge.
— Magento Association (@MagentoAssoc) October 31, 2016
— You have already given some technical details about the conference in your recent video updates. You said that there will be sponsor booths and stands – how’s that going to be implemented?
— Well, obviously an online conference is going to work a bit more differently =) We’re still figuring out the details on how we are doing this, but basically an online streaming event is video focused, so we can have some commercials in between and virtual booths for the sponsors.
As a visitor, you log into a system and see the main screen where the sessions are being held, and you can also visit the sponsor area. In this area, sponsors will have their own space to show pre-recorded videos and to talk to the visitors directly.
— What are your expectations about the number of attendees? Sure, the conference is in December and you have a lot of time ahead, but still – what are the rough numbers?
— I would love to know, actually! For example, when I first did a Meet Magento in 2009, I had no idea whatsoever. I thought, if we have 30 people together, that would be fun. The room could hold 100 people, and we were fully booked, so the next year I made sure the room was a bit bigger, and this year we were up to 850 attendees.
Here in the Netherlands, 70-80% of the tickets are sold in the last three weeks before the event. That’s why it’s really hard to predict the rough numbers.
We have organized over fifty Meet Magento events total, and those range from 100 to 850 people, and this year in Vietnam they’re going over 1000 people, as I understood. In total we’ve reached thousands of people with Meet Magento’s, and more than 800 sessions were performed.
And it’s easier to ‘visit’ the online conference. It will probably have even better content than a local Meet Magento event, and I’m not saying that local Meet Magento’s don’t have quality content, on the contrary!
But because we can do this as a worldwide event, we can be really picky on the presentations to make the agenda really great. And hopefully this would attract even more people.
This is a really long answer to say that I don’t know =). At least the same number you’d expect for regular Meet Magento events. This is our first event of that kind, we need to figure out how people react, we need to produce this on a professional level, and we’re taking it seriously.
We can do this as a worldwide event, we can be really picky on the content to make the agenda really great.
— We know that for many people the most valuable thing of any conference is the so-called hallway track – when people are talking and socializing during breaks and parties and sharing knowledge. What will be the alternative of the hallway track on Meet Magento World? And which tools are you going to use for this?
— We’re definitely working on that. We still need it to be the MEET Magento, it’s in the name and it’s a really important part of an online event, and it absolutely should be an important part of an offline event.
So, in the online environment, we will be having chats on the same screen with sessions, so the audience can talk about what’s going on at the moment. Of course, the channels that are being used now, like Slack and Twitter, will be engaged as well.
And during the event itself, some sort of the breakout sessions with a moderator are planned. They are meant for people to join around certain topics and discuss them. For example, for half an hour you will be able to talk about logistics, something like a round table discussion, I would say.
— Are there some very special and new things you are facing right now when organizing stuff for an online conference in comparison to an offline conference?
— The biggest challenge is the streaming part, it’s completely new for us, and it’s also a critical point. We need to take care about a lot of backup systems, doing things in order to get everything running. The organizers are hiring experts in this field who do this quite often. So I’m confident this will work out pretty good.
Another thing is what we discussed above – the interaction during the event. When you see people around in real life, it’s very natural to start talking to them on the spot. And that will be much harder online. We are thinking about ways of stimulating people to talk.
First things first we work together on getting more people to Magento, and then we can start competing again.
— In your video update, you said that two thirds of the speeches will be about Magento. Are you planning to go for technical or business topics when it comes to Magento?
— Yes, when it comes to an offline event, there are usually business and technical tracks. I think that Meet Magento World will be the first event where the majority of sessions will be aimed at the core users of the Magento community. It’s not quite an event for people looking at Magento as a possible solution.
The agenda will be very diverse, but the majority will be focused on the technical part. But it’s e-commerce, it’s not only technical. We do have one track, but the great thing about an online conference is that you can pick and choose which topic you want to attend, skipping the topics that are not interesting for you. We will make those videos available afterwards for the people who bought the tickets.
— You said that you’re not allowing topics which were performed on Meet Magento stage before – only new ones. Looks like a great challenge to pack three full days with only great and valuable speeches, but I’m sure that the agenda will be amazing. Could you tell a little bit more about the process of picking the speeches?
— We are talking to some gurus of PHP and MySQL, and people related to the topic in general – everything that can be applied to Magento. Approximately one third of the speeches will be performed by people outside the Magento community.
We did a lot of Meet Magento’s before and got a lot of feedback from the visitors, especially through the SnowDog app where people can rate the topics and the speakers. We used that input to understand what people are looking for and find really useful, to figure out the speakers people find easy to listen to, searching for a perfect combination.
— We do have a call for speakers on the website, and a couple of speakers might come from that, but the starting point for us was: OK, who are the best speakers and what is the best content?
We are working with the potential speakers to bring some new content to the Magento community. However, when a developer is specialized in some area and gave a nice speech about it before, there is still what he or she can squeeze about it on MM16World stage.
We encourage speakers to test their speeches, but on smaller audience, so there will be no repetition for Meet Magento World attendees.
— Ivan Chepurnyi (@IvanChepurnyi) October 24, 2016
— Do the speakers have to be present at the broadcast studio?
— The speakers can travel to the studio, but it’s not mandatory. The conference will be moderated by two hosts, but the speakers can perform from their homes as well. It allows us to become more flexible with even better content and better speeches, because this process requires fewer investments in terms of time and effort spent usually spent on traveling to an offline conference.
— I guess the USA speakers are a bit tired of traveling to Europe and back. How have Meet Magento events changed during the last couple of years?
— They became bigger and more professional. More people are influencing and organizing them.
The great thing is that the spirit hasn’t changed. It’s still a very cool community, supported by open source minded people, really willing to share with the other members.
In the Netherlands, the first day of Meet Magento is a list day, as we name it. We get some call centers reaching merchants that are not using Magento to get them to our event.All the solution providers collaborate on that day not only to sell themselves, but to sell Magento.
And once we’ve reached that, we can start competing again, but first things first we work together on getting more people to Magento. That’s the feeling I had on the first Meet Magento, and I have it on the events now. And that’s really great.
It’s a very cool community, supported by open source minded people, really willing to share and being open.
— Which Meet Magento event was the most memorable for you?
— The first one in the Netherlands, I guess? But each first event is quite memorable, though. When you go to a country for the very first time, it’s very fun to see the people that know each other online, or from Slack and forums.
But these people haven’t seen each other in person before, and in the morning everyone is a bit careful, still trying to figure out what this event is. And you slowly start seeing visitors engaging with each other, and that’s where the community is born over and over again.
Thanks, Guido. Good luck to you and the team with the event in December!