Why is Bulgaria Web Summit 2015 so different from any other event?

When I talk to sponsors and even to friends about the Summit, they always ask me what makes our event different.

So here’s the secret:

We started this event 11 years ago (under a different name) as an effort to create something amazing and affordable for IT guys in Bulgaria. At the same time we never compromise with quality. The main purpose of the event is for our attendees to learn new things, which they can apply in their work on the very next day and to return the “investment” they have made in the conference.

Speakers

In most of the conferences I’ve been in Europe, well-trained company folks talk about their success at Fakebook or Playpal and how to clone it to your company – This doesn’t work and you will not see it at our event and in the same time you have to spend tons of money just to listen to the guy.

In the most conferences I’ve been in Europe, well-respected gurus talk about some programming art – they do that all the time, they just talk, they don’t code anymore – You will not see this at our event – We invite only professionals and they share their experience with you and on the next day, they will not depart for another event, but they will go back to do the thing they do the best.

We have had amazing speakers over the years. Some of them became friends of the event and they can come again and again, even without paying them a dime. We build relationships with our speakers, because we are Balkan people and this is what we do.

Many people still remember Monty’s Black Vodka, Richard Stallman‘s socks and many other stories that must be kept secret :)

 

The audience

We do have the best audience ever! I mean it. We have people that haven’t missed an event since 2004. They are honest and if you screw up they will tell you and they will give you kudos if you do something amazing. In most of the years, the tickets are sold months before the event, even without a schedule and even without the speakers yet known, because we proved the event is good.

We have people who met at our event and got married, we have people who met at our event and started business together, we have companies that hired great professionals because of our events; we have kicked off many careers by showing the people great technologies and ways to use them.

 

The money

Of course it’s not all about money. We do need them to make the event great, but our main goal is not to make money out of it. As you can see the entrance fee is low – for the same event in Europe (same speakers) you would have to pay 5-10 times more. We realize that we live in a different country and the conditions are different, but we are trying to find a way to keep the fee low and at the same time to still keep up the quality of the talks and emotions. We can achieve this only thanks to our sponsors. Thank you, dear sponsors!

 

Experiments

We do experiment a lot. We are trying to make a stress-free event, full of nice surprises, parties and interesting topics.

We are not one of those conferences where you get tons of coffee in the breaks (sometime we even don’t have breaks, nor coffee for that matter, just beer!) and a schedule 3 months in advance or you can sit and pretend you are listening, because someone paid you the fee. With us you are a part of the event all the time: we have games, hackathons and other stuff you can take part in. We give you the bread and butter, use your mind to make a sandwich. :)

 

We grow

We failed many times at many tasks, but we are learning and improving. We are not a professional team doing this for the money. We are doing this for fun and to help our great and amazing community. We count on volunteers. Thank you, dear volunteers!

 

Marketing?

We are one of the few events that don’t have history of the event on their website. Duh! We do believe that if you visit us once (because a friend told you about us) you don’t need a silly website to convince you again to come :) We do not spend (a lot of) money on marketing or professional services. We count on word of mouth and you. Thank you!

Join us and see for yourself!

FOSDEM 2015 – hotels, information and facts (updated)

If you are going to Fosdem 2015, here is some useful info.

Co-working spaces

Work together with other hackers in Brussels for free before and after Fosdem.

Hotels and Hostels

  • Hotels near to Grand Place and to the Delirium Cafe. This location is near to all sights and it’s good idea to stay here instead near to the FOSDEM venue;
  • Cheapest hotels in Brussels.
  • Hotels near to the ULB – the venue

Personally I can recommend CitaDines apartments, because there is a small kitchen included into the price and you can make a dinner or breakfast. If you are more than 2 people, they can offer you a really great offer and it’s near to the bus stop for FOSDEM bus. At the moment they have “Up to 36% off ” offer. Go grab one.

Beer?

Just visit this site. I highly recommend the pub crawl tour for just 15 euro.

 Food?

There is no food in Brussels. :)

 

Free walking tour?

Yes, it’s available. Click here to learn more. It’s every day from 11 in the morning and 2 afternoon. Pre-booking is welcomed :)

 

FOSDEM

FOSDEM is a free and non-commercial event organized by the community for the community. The goal is to provide Free Software and Open Source developers and communities a place to meet to:

  • + Get in touch with other developers and projects;
  • + Be informed about the latest developments in the Free Software and Open Source world;
  • + Attend interesting talks and presentations held in large conference rooms by Free Software and Open Source project leaders and committers on various topics;
  • + To promote the development and the benefits of Free Software and Open Source solutions.
  • + and to SHARE knowledge with each other

Sharing the knowledge and ideas is the most valuable think you can get during FOSDEM and it’s free. There is no excuse not to be there.

If you are worried about anything, just feel free to ask me and I will help you, especially if this will be your first visit. If you are living for Free software or Open Source – you must be there.

(cc) Image is under CC lisense by bertogg

How To Throw A Smashing Fedora Release Party

I am into organizing Fedora 18 release party in Prague this month and I though it’s time to share my ideas about a smashing Fedora release party.

Fedora 18 on Techbeat.com

Engage

I know most people are busy, especially in big cities. Start your engagement process at least 3 weeks before the release party.

Whom to target:

  • All Gnu/Linux users – we are on the same side of the “war” :)
  •  Journalists – create a mini-press release and send it to all journalist friends you know and ask them for help. Most of the time they react really quick. This is a news, anyway and a good one, though :)
  • Your colleagues – common, you can find at least 3 people to share the news with and they can find 3 more people to share it with. IM tools are powerful these days. Your colleagues are spending a lot of time in jabber or skype during the work time :)
  • Programmers and Designers (yes, Fedora is not just for geeks)
  • Try your local Hackerspace
  • Try your local GNU/Linux and FLOSS related websites. In exchange for the news you can promote them as “media partner” or just call them friends :)
  • Create an identica/ twitter/ FB account and #hashtag and use to spread the word about your party.
  • Create simple badges and ask people to put them on their blogs
  • Create a mini-website (you can use wordpress.com for a free blog for example)

Schedule and timing

  • Try to find out what groups you are targeting – hackers. teachers. programmers, designers … and put at least one topic for every group. Keep them under 20 min.
  • Ask people to RSVP to the event and to share it at least 2 weeks before the event.
  • Good idea is to use name tags. Just provide some empty white stickers and a pen – let them to the rest.
  • Start with asking every person to introduce himself/herself shortly. What’s your name, what you do, and why are you here today…
  • Start with an introduction – “What is Fedora and Why all we are here today”. Some people may not know anything about it.
  • Combine the talks with free discussions – let people to talk to each other, let the knowledge flows. Ask if someone wants to share how they are using Fedora in their work, life, device or just for fun.
  • Have a beer and pizza in the venue if possible. It helps! Especially the beer.
  • Bring something to giveaway: buttons, stickers, DVD, brochures.

Collaboration

  • Don’t do anything alone, find friends/fans/ambassadors to help you out
  • Use agile tools like trello to plan and execute your event. Create tasks and ask people to take the ownership and to do it. Community, community, community

Goal

  • Define your goal. Why you are doing this? If you spread 50 DVDs what will be the impact?
  • What about if you ask your attendees to do something? For example in the next meeting to bring someone with them or in one month to share their story about Fedora 18.
  • Give knowledge and freebies only in exchange for something else – a blog post, an action, an idea, a possible non-free OS replacement.
  • Track the success of your event. Definitely attendees will be happy after 3 beers, but what will be the impact for the community in1 month.

Have a smashing Fedora 18 release party and share some pictures and ideas.