When I started my work at Drifty in late April, my bosses both encouraged me to feel empowered to be bold and take risks while working there. When I started off, there was not much opportunity to do so. My first mass email campaign was a massive failure with our users, and I was feeling pretty risk-averse.
In early June, however, I struck up conversation with a rep from Techweek Chicago, the largest annual tech gathering in the Midwest, and was able to secure a sponsorship for well below market price. This sponsorship included me attending the entire conference (speakers, expo, events, parties, over $600 value), and our team getting a booth at the expo for the entire day Saturday (a $2,000 value). Through offering a few free licenses of our products as a bit of a trade, Drifty was able to have this presence at Techweek for about 73% off book value. I finally felt like I had taken a big risk, it paid off, and my superiors were EXTREMELY supportive of all of it.
We wrangled together marketing/display materials over a rushed two-week period, and I set off for Chicago on June 26. From Thursday to Saturday, I attended 12 speaker events, 3 networking events, and 2 sponsored parties. I met well over 200 people that had extremely valuable knowledge and insights, and made some great conversation. Most importantly, the Drifty team was able to get our products in front of (literally attendees were using our tools on computers at the expo) thousands of potential new users. We learned a ton about how different users initially perceive our products; a process that is far more apparent in person than over a computer, and we saw genuine excitement about our software from tons of tech lovers.
Techweek Chicago is an experience I will never forget. It will be an ever-present reminder of how empowering and trusting bosses (our esteemed co-founders), a willing and dedicated team, and an open mind can lead to a truly valuable and remarkable experience.