One of the Community Managers for KC startup accelerator Think Big Partners gives thoughts on the many unconventional milestones from this year.
By Sarah Snyder
Three weeks after the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) has left Kansas City, I am reflecting on the superb experience we had and connections we made.
Think Big Coworking and Think Big Partners could not be more excited with the decision GCUC made to come to Kansas City this year and we hope that our beloved city proved to be more than expected (which I think it did.) This being my third year attending, GCUC continues to get better each year. The Day 1 speakers and panels all had words of advice and inspiration that were interesting, valuable and relevant. The Day 2 unconference identified popular industry questions and trends for conversations that were interesting, valuable and relevant. The Day 3 workshops offered a variety of interesting, valuable and relevant content to help owners and operators run a coworking space. See a pattern? GCUC is uniquely successful in pulling together the right people to talk about the right coworking related topics.
That brings me to the best aspect of GCUC: the people. Much like coworking, the attendees (members) shape the quality of the conference (coworking space) – and this is a high quality group. With a mix of coworking world veterans and rookies, small and big space owners, single and multiple location operators, from (literally) all over the world, the GCUC crowd has the power to not just identify but shape the future of work as we know it.
The shared spaces we design are not just for collaboration and productivity but building communities. Do not underestimate that power of a Community Manager at a coworking space. We build communities of like-minded people. We make entrepreneurship less lonely. We are connectors. We help our members survive the ups and down of entrepreneurship and in some cases can be the difference between failure and success. Coworking truly changes lives.
There is much more to the future of the coworking industry with an expected 400% growth this year and more specifically, this (un)conference. I’m looking forward to being a part of it for a long time.
Just to relive a few of the most memorable moments, here are the top __ moments of GCUC 2014:
8. Poppin’s Booth & Turnstone Lounge
The rainbow booth of color from Poppin stood out as a bright and beautiful display. Hard not to attract to that color like a fly to the light. Turnstone’s coworking lounge featured their buoys, stand up desks, coffee tables and lounges. Color combined with comfort made for the perfect conversation setting. Think Big Coworking is lucky enough to have acquired that furniture for our new space at 1712 Main Street in Kansas City.
7. COSHARE Genius Bar
[CoShare Logo] America’s first national association for shared spaces, COSHARE, had their board members posted up at the Genius Bar answering questions attendees had about coworking. I was impressed with the number of people interested in asking questions and there is always something new to learn when hearing someone else answer in their own way. Hopefully they can bring this back again next year. Go COSHARE!
6. Closing Party at Missouri Bank
[pic] With a location as cool as Missouri Bank’s Crossroads branch, we thoroughly enjoyed a bumping party with a slow motion video booth, open bar, cake and Red Bull DJ, all during Kansas City’s First Fridays. It was the perfect way to end the conference with some fun social time. Looking forward to seeing that video soon.
5. Beam Attendees
There is a natural human fascination of robots, especially the Beam by Suitable Technologies robots that had live attendees on the other side. The Beam folks attended some unconference sessions, talked with attendees and someone even shared a lovely dance!
— Remix Coworking (@RemixCoworking) May 4, 2014
Herb with Beam:
— Herb Sih (@thinkbigKC) May 3, 2014
4. Conga Line
There was a conga line. ‘Nuff said.
3. Breakout sessions – on a plane!
The National Airline History Museum showed off its restored planes by having a breakout session on a plane! While it didn’t work for more than one session, it was still fun while it lasted!
— Airline History (@AirlineHistory) May 2, 2014
2. Energy of Day 1
No real picture to capture the sort of energy that buzzed for the entire morning of Day 1 but it’s worth remembering. This was that: I-haven’t-seen-you-in-a-while-so-let’s-hug plus a little of this-is-your-first-time-here?-excited-for-you energy that made keeping the attendees quiet, a lot like herding cats.
1. Unconference Agenda Creation Chaos
The unconference topic submission had great ideas in advance and had even more submitted the morning of Day 2. It’s already interesting to identify what’s trending by looking at popular ideas. There were so many great ideas that there wasn’t even time to schedule them all! Think Big Partners ran the unconference and we were impressed with the high quantity of high quality content. So much to learn and it all continues!
— Jeff Shaffer (@isonjeff) May 2, 2014
Interestingly but not surprisingly, a strong sense of community has emerged among space owners and operators at GCUC and it has started to feel more like a reunion than a conference – and I can’t help but be sucked in! It’s almost like we’ve started a one-day coworking community of our own. The important part now is not let that community die as we retreat back to our cozy, comfortable boxes.
From now until next year, what can GCUC attendees do to stay connected? How can we help each other share in best practices? Have you talked to your “accountability partner” yet? Did you contact the people whose cards you collected? Continue to build the community virtually and start now.