Here’s the thing,
Tons of great info gets shared at conferences, but by the end you are so overwhelmed with information that you can’t remember the details of the sessions. Afterword, you set off to refresh your memory, but the conference content is strewn all over the internet: video is on YouTube and Ustream; slides are on SlideShare and Scribd; notes are hiding on personal blogs. Conference websites are terrible and aren’t any help either. Finding this stuff is a pain.
The idea is for a central site and service around conferences and talks. I call it Oregato [explanation at the bottom]. Each conference/talk gets it’s own mini-site, which includes basic conference info (date, location, topic, etc) and a page for each session. Session pages again have basic session info (date, speakers, topic, etc) as well as the ability for anybody to add content to them. Content can include video, audio, presentation slides, pictures, and notes. Similar to a wiki, anybody can create a conference site, session page, and attach content. Conference coordinators can claim their conference page and gain access to additional features (branding, moderation, stats, etc.).
Why People Will Care
This service benefits two types of end users: (1) people who attended the conference and want to recap the panels they saw and (2) people who didn’t attend the conference. For the latter, a huge benefit of the site is discovering new content that you never knew existed. For example, let’s say that you are really interested in startups. Even if you didn’t know a conference existed, the ‘startups’ category would give you content from Startup School, Startonomics, Startup2Startup, Startup Lessons Learned, and even individual one-off presentations like the talk that Twitter founder, Ev Williams did at the University of Nebraska. All of this great content surfaces when you are able to search and browse tags across conferences.
The benefits for conference organizers is that they are able to show off their events to a broad, global audience. They are able to build their reputation and are able to better stay in contact with their past (and potential) attendees throughout the year to create stronger relationships.
The speakers benefit by having their talks in front of a larger audience, helping them boost their fan base and their credibility. It also makes it easier to show their past presentations when applying to speak at future events.
- Any registered user can create a conference, a session, and attach content.
- Conference Page:
- List of sessions with links to the session pages
- Session Page:
- Video (embedded from 3rd party sites)
- Audio (embedded from 3rd party sites)
- Presentation slides (embedded from 3rd party sites)
- Pictures (either served directly or linked)
- Text notes
- Full text search
- Browsable by tags, speaker, location, and date
- Users are able to mark themselves as attendees for upcoming events and view a list of other attendees
- Users are able to subscribe to a conference, presenter, or tag and receive updates when new content is posted
- Integrating with third party sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plancast, Upcoming, etc.
- Conference owners can claim their conference page & access additional features
- Customized branding (adding a logo = free, total HTML/CSS control = paid)
- Custom domain (paid)
- Ability to moderate posted content or restrict others from posting content (paid)
- Stats (basic stats = free, advanced stats = paid)
- Ability to contact people who’ve marked themselves as attendees (and those interested) (paid)
- Ticket sales (either selling tickets directly or by partnering with a ticket retailer like EventBrite) (transaction fee)
- Conferences can pay to be “Featured” in order to build interest for the upcoming events (paid)
More Incremental Income Opportunities
- Transactional income from the sale of premium content from conference organizers to users
- Affiliate income
- Sales of travel accommodations to upcoming conferences
- Selling books written by the presenters
Finding Users & Customers
Initially, focus on generating attention and users in the tech niche. Work one-on-one with conference organizers on partnerships to become the official online platform to archive their event content. This will give Oregato a presence at the event and bring users in fairly large chunks. These early partnerships should also create a lot of interest from the early adopter segments. In terms of bigger events, SXSWi and the GigaOM network of conferences would be ideal partners. For smaller conferences and talks, Startup School, Startup2Startup, etc.
The “attending” feature will be pretty big in terms of generating new content and spreading the word. After each event, retention emails can be sent out requesting content: “Share your notes with other attendees”, and periodic digests of uploaded content “4 videos and 3 slide presentations have been uploaded from Startup School. Share this content with a friend who couldn’t attend”.
The implementation of the attending feature could be similar to Plancasts:
Integrating with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is important. Each time a user marks themselves as attending an event they will be prompted with a box: “Are your friends also attending? Add them to the attendence list!”. Oregato then send the friend a confirmation message along with a brief explanation of the service.
Some conferences may be reluctant to put their content online. They may fear that people will stop going to the conferences if they can watch for free. It seems like this attitude is starting to go away though, considering many conferences post content. The primary benefits of conferences is the social interactions that take place. Online videos/content don’t replace the social benefits of actually attending.
Luckily, Oregato doesn’t suffer from a “chicken & egg” problem. There is already a lot of content out there to seed the site. Almost all videos and slides have embed codes, making them freely available to any site. This does, however, lower the barrier of entry to potential competitors.
So, do you think this idea has legs? If you’re interested in running with it, I’ll help you out in any way I can. Even give you the domain name.
If you build it, I promise to use it!
* What does “Oregato” mean? It means “arigatō”, which means “thank you” in Japanese. Presentations are all about sharing, and it’s always polite to thank people after they’ve shared with you. The name seems fitting.