SPS Zurich and European Collaboration Summit Recap
June 8, 2018
“It’s all about the people folks…”
This is probably going to be a different event recap from what you have been reading before. The words you will read come straight from my heart with no filters, no marketing bullshit, just pure personal viewpoint on what went down the last week.
If you don’t know me, my name is Jussi (for those who know me and read this (Hello there 🙂 ). I am roaming around the SharePoint space for a while already mainly trying to drive user adoption of the SharePoint platform or the solutions built on top of it and as you might know this is not the easiest nor rewarding spot to be in. But in my opinion maybe one of the most exciting and interesting one, because it has to 100% to do with people. People using technology.
Since my time in Finland I got connected with the SharePoint community mainly also thanks to Jussi Roine (Thanks bud!) and got introduced to different forces of nature within the space and it has been hell of a ride. On this very moment right now I can say, that I have arrived exactly where I wanted to be and I know where I want to go and mostly because of the amazing people living in this vibrant SharePoint and Office 365 community.
I have been through many ups and downs business wise (like probably most of us have) but the community taught me something. If you truly, genuinely in your heart want the others to succeed with their stuff and you help them, you will be rewarded thousand-fold for this attitude. People will never forget when you sincerely helped them achieve something, get a good discussion with a potential customer, etc… You connect with those people on an emotional level, especially when you help them without hidden agenda. Make people like you and wanting to help you succeed, then you will as well.
Now let’s focus a bit on what happened the last week(s).
The 2nd SharePoint Saturday Zurich (Organizer View)
Kraftwerk, the old power plant of EWZ (Energie Werke Zürich) where the awesome Impact Hub created a super trendy space for events and co-working. The first time I stepped into this location, for me as a frequent organizer of SharePoint Saturdays, I knew that this is the event location to be. Big thanks to Impact Hub to making everything work like a clockwork (Swiss style). People just simply LOVED it.
Despite of some hiccups like bad air and too noisy rooms the hipster-industry-trendy style just overweighed the downsides in so many ways. The good Alistair Pugin came to me in the SharePint saying: “Dude, I’ve been to countless SharePoint Saturdays, but this is by far the coolest venue I have ever been!” As an organizer this is of course very nice to hear. I took a bit a gamble knowing that there will be bad air and there will be imperfections. But we human beings are full of imperfections and it is totally fine to be imperfect, if you manage to focus on your good sides.
The evening before the event, I took the speakers to the “House mountain”, called Uetliberg. We had apero in the yard at Uto Kulm and then dinner in one of the halls of the restaurant. The weather god also was playing into our favor. From Uto Kulm you could see the mountains to the east of lake Zurich and people were just speechless about the beauty Switzerland has to offer. After drinks the speaker-dinner took place in the beautiful wine-bar jules-verne.ch within the old observatory in the heart of Zurich.
All in all the SharePoint Saturday went really good. It was a beautiful hot day in Zurich, so we had quite a lot of no-shows (about 40%). I can understand why you don’t want to squeeze yourself on a hot day into a conference venue but I expected from the Swiss people to be a bit more responsible to at least tell us beforehand if you’re coming or not. So this was a bit of a disappointment. Anyhow, the feedback of the conference was so great, that I am sure next year we get the house on fire J. Plus, we decided to introduce a no-show fee for those who just don’t show up, pay up. Even though it’s a non-profit thingy, there is still money involved and catering needs to be ordered, etc.
At this point my huge thanks and gratitude goes to Samuel Zürcher (@sharepointszu) from Experts Inside and Stefano Tempesta (@stefanotempesta), those MVPs are simply amazing people and it would have been impossible to organize this event without you. So thank you, thank you, thank you! <3. Additionally, I would like to thank all Speakers and sponsors. Without you doing these events would just be impossible! For next year I have planned to involve also all the sponsors to all pre and post conference events. In my opinion they carry similar weight to make those conferences happening as the speakers. So, watch this space! 🙂
Check this awesome recap video from Jon Levesque. Thanks for doing this buddy!
The SPS Zurich from a view of a sponsor
In Switzerland I often heard the phrase from fellow business associates: “There is no money in community, so what’s the point for supporting that stuff?” I cannot express in words how wrong this sounds. If you cannot make business of community, you are stuck in the “old days” or you just are sleeping 🙂 . The way of doing business is just different. It’s more people than process or numbers based. It is harder to measure the numbers of community generated “sales” than doing it the old way, but it is the way to get into the interesting discussions. To really light the fire on the stuff you do with potential partners, customers or the other hardcore geek hacking his way through life. It gives you an angle on things on every aspect and not only one and this is why I love it so much. In addition, doing community work is fun like hell! 🙂
With Happit.com our “Single click learning” contextual user adoption framework we had our first bigger sponsoring gig at SPS Zurich. With about 90 attendees we had 50 discussions and from those could generate 35 qualified leads. In terms of number crunching I would consider this as a really good success rate. Next to that the whole Happit team could connect with legends from the community and I would even say, new friendships started. I would say for a silver sponsorship of CHF 1000.- for SPS Zurich, the value generated out of this event is “out of this world.”
Again every word in this article is my personal opinion, with no filter just purely written from my heart. If you disagree I am totally fine with it. 🙂
Recap of European Collaboration Summit from the view of a sponsor
While riding towards Mainz with my Happit Team JP Wirta, Asta Kiiski and Samuel Zürcher (my brother from another mother) from Experts Inside, I was feeling that this is going to be an epic trip. We all a bit hung-over (except the driver of course) we were killing driving time with the hilarious videos from Ismo Leikola (funniest man in the world from Finland, yes FINLAND!) explaining the different meanings of “Ass” and “Shit”.
After arriving in Mainz we checked in, into our 17 bed, 3 apartment AirBnB with own BBQ yard. So soon when we arrived there we knew that a BBQ needs to happen at this place 🙂 . The first evening we chilled in a local Greek restaurant and made silly jokes about each other which became running gags throughout the whole week.
ECS Day one: Skybow Partner Event and “The other” Speaker Dinner
After forcing ourselves out of the feathers we arrived just in time to the Skybow partner event. Thanks a lot for the whole Skybow team for hosting this event with very interesting sessions about upcoming features of the awesome and powerful Skybow Business Solution Platform and also we had the chance to pitch Happit solution in combination with Skybow. Me being enormous tired after hosting SPS Zurich and half-witted, I asked JP to take over the pitch and briefed him in 5 minutes what to do.
As energetic and awesome as he is, he sat down and created a demo showing the Skybow Expenses App with embedded user adoption with Happit. The building time was about 30 mins for JP to pull out an awesome demo where the one and only Mike Fitzmaurice commented in the end: “How does it feel to be so awesome?” 🙂 . Between us, he said that to everyone 🙂 .
Nevertheless, JP rocked the pitch. Imo, it was the perfect balance of slides and demo, focusing on business value and feature presentation, but dude we need to work on your jokes a bit 🙂 . After the official part ended Skybow offered some free beer. So thanks a lot for that boys!
The evening continued with an invitation to the “unofficial” speaker dinner in the backyard of an old castle-huge-mansion-thingy. The location was just beautiful and relaxed.
The great Andrej Doms (awesome to finally meet you in person) was so nice to reserve some tables for us beforehand. The “Speaker dinner” ended with Andy Talbot asking Andrej and me to “drown” him in the well for a funny picture moment. Of course it took about no time for Andrej and me to agree on T-Bots wish.
Phil Worrell’s picture comment was: “Did T-Bot give you the wrong answer?” <- Dude, that was hilarious 🙂
ECS Day 2: Booth day one
On this day I was able to get some rest, thanks to the kindness of JP and Asta, I could join the booth team around lunchtime. And once I get there I entered a crazy house. People were literally queuing at our both. One guy came to me and literally pulled at my t-shirt yelling at me: “What is happening here? Why you have everyone queueing here? What do you do?” Still not fully recovered from all the happenings the last days and nights I tried to pull off the day and despite of the tiredness we managed to rock the show.
As said, this was the first time I experienced a major conference from the view of a sponsor and I need to say, It’s hard work. I lost count how many times I have pitched Happit.com that day but it felt like something on the range of a thousand times 🙂 . So for all booth / sponsor heroes out there, I salute you.
ECS Day 3: Booth day two
The following day was a bit quieter than the previous one, cause the day was much shorter and some of the attendees might have already left, nevertheless it was far from an easy day. Throughout the whole conference time my Fitbit stats soared in terms of calories burned and steps taken.
In retrospect over the whole week we had countless of discussions with potential partners, customers and other people of interest. All in all we gathered 250 qualified new leads for Happit.com which was 4 times more than the average exhibitor of the conference. So in our perspective it was a huge success!
Therefore, we decided to celebrate our conquest with a barbecue #HappitBBQ where our friends from Skybow, Valo and Metalogix joined. Hands down this was one of the best BBQs I have had in my life, so kudos to chef JP Wirta to pull this off!
Due to the great feedback we have had on the barbecue, we decided to make it a thing. So after every European Collab Summit So we are going to host a #HappitBBQ at every European Collab Summit to give back to all the amazing people helping us to find our spot in the industry.
It needs a village to do a change. Find your fellow warriors, help them to succeed and I guarantee you, you will be helped as well. Find the win – win – win situations. Win for your partner, win for the customer and win for yourself. Once you have that, the sky is the limit.
ECS day 4: Appreciation cruise on the river Rhine
I know Adis, Matthias, Spence, Mike and Martina for a while now. And they always raise the bar again in terms of conference organization. I had the privilege to speak at the Collab Summit in Zagreb in 2017. Me personally I liked it more, because it was smaller and more family-ish. But in terms of business value ECS 2018 beats everything. But somehow the organizers still managed to keep up the awesome spirit European Collab Summit has from its times in Croatia and projected that to Mainz. So it was a perfect mix of business, community and you could feel the connection and love everyone has for each other.
The organizers decided to give back to sponsors and speakers with an appreciation cruise on the Rhine river (awesome idea btw). And when I sat there in this beautiful scenery, surrounded by people I love and respect, listening to great live music I felt a powerful feeling of gratitude. Gratitude to be here, in this very moment, doing things I love with the people I want to work with. The only people I was missing was my beautiful wife and son at this moment then it would have been even more perfect.
I will be always grateful for the ECS family, for everyone I talked to and support us. I am just blown away…