Creating business conferences isn’t something I thought I’d be doing 10 years ago. I never liked conferences, why create one?
Perhaps we thought we’d do one that didn’t suck. One where the right people were in the room for the right reasons.
Whatever the initial motivations, we’ve stuck with it.
Over the years we’ve hosted conferences all over the world and every October, for five years running, we’ve hosted an event in Bangkok.
We call it “DCBKK.” “DC” for our community, and “BKK” for the Bangkok airport code.
What follows are my photos throughout the weekend, but they aren’t nearly as nice as what our members posted on Instagram.
So let’s get started. Please excuse typos, I am severely sleep deprived! :)
Here’s a photo of the event team.
DCBKK is more or less a 5 day event, depending on how you count. Some members come weeks early and travel together afterwards, some just fly in for the weekend.
This year’s format included 4 main stage talks, 12 workshops, and 40 meetups (many of which included presentations).
We also hosted a full day of masterminds, where we create tables of entrepreneurs we feel would be uniquely helpful to each other (we use level of experience, industry, among other things) and help facilitate a day-long structured conversation where everyone gets to work through one of their biggest business problems.
DCBKK 2016 was limited to 250 established entrepreneurs, over 70% of which had attended previous events.
To get it all done, we hire seasonal staff and recruit volunteers. The whole event team is over 20 people.
Here’s the view from my hotel room after I checked in and dropped my bags.
This year there were over 40 meetups hosted on a wide variety of topics. These aren’t pitch fests or stump speeches, just smart members getting together over small presentations and discussion topics that matter to their businesses.
Many meetups require an RSVP and have attendee requirements, for example…
Here a peak inside my “membership site owners” meetup.
In order to attend, you needed to have an active membership community with over 50 paying members.
Speaking personally, I got a lot of great advice (2 note pages) on how to make the DC better for members – and the conversation was so specific and wonky, that an outsider might think we’re speaking an entirely different language.
One of the memberships was a real life motorcycle gang in San Francisco, which I thought was cool.
Before the event we signed cards for members who made the trek to Bangkok.
That’s Bossman and our director of operations, Alex McQuade, wearing bow ties to the opening party. Mistakes were made!
This was the first year we sold sponsorships to our conference, which I thought was pretty damn cool.
All of the sponsor business were born, and/or cultivated, right inside the DC. Pretty sweet!
Empire Flippers helped host our opening party, AMZ tracker was another headline sponsor and ended up bringing a bunch of their staff to help volunteer at the event (heads up, they are hiring location independent staff!), Bean Ninjas (Xero bookkeeping services for online businesses) and 1040 Abroad (US Tax returns) also sponsored.
Here’s me and my guy Jeff Pecaro. He works with us for about half the year on speaker recruitment, training, and coordination. It’s a hard job, and recruiting Jeff to the team has been one of the most important elements to the event’s success. If you present at DCBKK, you talk to Jeff. A lot.
We have worked together on a wide variety of projects since 2011. I look forward to spending time with him every year. He lives in LA. You should look him up.
Members having some fun in the photo booth…
The next morning we got to the event space early to ensure everything was in working order.
During tech checks I took a selfie with our first speaker, Jamie Masters from the Eventual Millionaire podcast. I was curious about how she shared the story of her divorce (and how it effected her business) with her followers online, so we asked her to come share the story. She said she was up for it!
I wanted to selfie with all of the other amazing presenters but ended up getting busy and forgetting.
This year we had a few big talks like this, where everybody gets into a room together.
And many more ‘workshops’ with specific topics. In the above workshop, David and Carrie from Greenback Tax Services shared the strategies they use to manage a remote team of over 50 employees.
The sessions are interactive and small. Most workshop presenters aren’t professional speakers, they are too busy running their businesses! That’s part of the reason why having someone like Jeff coaching presenters is so important.
Most workshop hosts are members who are willing to donate their time to share with their peers what’s working (or not) in their businesses. I think attendees appreciate the conversations and unique insights into active businesses that result.
If you forget what session you’ve registered for, you can just ask! Event staff are often new business owners or employees of attendees who aspire to learn from the successful business owners attending.
On the first day, I selected Noah and Ian’s session. People laughed, people cried, landing pages were critiqued, businesses were edited and updated on the spot, members collaborated and offered help to each other and everyone learned a little something.
This guy Noah Kagan isn’t too well known on the web, but he sure can give one hell of a talk.
We bring VIPs out to fancy places around town. Hey that’s Dan Norris! VIP for sure. On the second day, I skipped out of work and attended his session, it was excellent.
These entrepreneurs were sitting in a cigar room talking about– what else– taxes. Many of us wait all year to see each other and exchange ideas and stories late into the evenings.
Bangkok has one of the world’s most stunning skylines, so every year we try and book at least one venue atop the city.
The Empire Flippers invited me to a party this year. How cool is that? They put us in an old school stretched limo. People on the street took photos of us when we got out of the car, probably hoping for TV stars.
They must have been disappointed to find small business owners.
I didn’t take out my phone to take a photo of the closing party. Just this shot while leaving the venue….
I think our operations guy Derek summed the event up pretty well on his Facebook wall.
He used to help us with our ecommerce stores, now we beg him to come help us with all our events. Why? He’s a pro.
His job: make every attendee feel like a VIP.
There are simply too many thank you’s to hand out.
To our staff and volunteers, our presenters, those members who’ve come back year after year and donated their time and expertise and, most importantly, to the quirky/smart/thoughtful/giving and abundant nature of DCers who make this event like no other.
See you next year indeed!