Writing

Why SuperConf 2020?
Miami really needs a conference for the people creating the future...


Published 10 months ago.

I am the co-organizer of SuperConf.

It’s a conference for makers, by makers. Hopefully you’re reading this because you’re interested in coming to SuperConf this March. Maybe a teacher told you about SuperConf as a way to network. Maybe a friend tweeted about SuperConf. Or you read about it on the RefreshMiami blog (thanks Nancy!). Whatever the reason, you’re here to learn more about the people behind SuperConf & their motivations.

Believe it or not, the tech scene in Miami has been trying to sprout & grow since 2005! I started going to tech events like RefreshMiami & Future of Web Apps in 2007 or so. Eventually Future of Web Apps left in 2010 & there was a void. No yearly opportunity to connect with people in and outside of Miami building the future.

So I started a conference in 2011.

That first year was rough, I lost $15,000 of my own money. It was a huge financial loss for me personally. But something magical happened that first year: people really loved the conference. The companies that launched there got lots of users. The people that attended told me how they landed new roles because of people they met there. The stories rolled in for months after the conference.

Then it was October 2011 & I had to decide whether or not I wanted to take the risk again for SuperConf 2012. I had a good friend of mine Ulises design the site & try to grow interest in the event by coordinating with other events (like BarCamp from AlexDC & WordCamp from David Bisset) to form a “MiamiTechWeek”. It worked! People came to SuperConf & the larger Miami Tech Week from as far as Thailand. SuperConf turned a tiny $2700 profit that year. Again, people told me about roles they were able to get because of SuperConf. One of my favorite of these stories is from a person named David Small. David & I met at a BarCamp event that was happening because of MiamiTechWeek & I offered him a free ticket as he had just got to Miami & was not working in tech. David was able to land his first role in tech at a company that was sponsoring SuperConf: dotCo. Fast forward a bunch of years: David is an engineering leader at BrightGauge which was acquired by Continuum & recently started his own company: PassBox. Now I’m not taking credit for his success, but David himself has said SuperConf helped start him on his #MiamiTech journey. By the way, that first company he worked for: dotCo was acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars. He might have the midas touch.

Competitors started to appear in 2013.

Two years in, I was pretty motivated to continue working on SuperConf - even with our sponsors dumping boatloads of money into competing conferences run by people not living in Miami & local billionaires funding their own conference.

Even with competition, SuperConf 2013 was a great experience - the ecosystem was expanding. I could tell because people like Juan Pablo Cappello were publishing op-ed’s in the Miami Herald telling Miami to “kick start it’s engine”. In 2013, I managed to convince long time community organizer, Brian Breslin & my friend Davide DiCillo to come on as co-organizers. That year was by far the most successful - companies like SendGrid, Microsoft, Daimler Chrysler & dotCo sponsored. 200+ people came. In fact, my now wife & SuperConf co-organizer went to that SuperConf (although we did not actually meet then, that’s a story for another time).

But something interesting happened for me in 2013, the job of running the conference was so much more stressful than that first year - I felt a huge pressure to deliver. Deliver for sponsors, companies launching, and attendees. It just wasn’t fun.  So I decided in 2014 SuperConf would sit it out - I was a little bit burnt out & the Miami eco-system finally had a conference again, this time a well financed one.

Turns out I wasn't quite right...

Miami still needs a conference for the people building the future!

Put simply, not a single conference in Miami since 2013 has been for makers, the builders, the people inventing the stuff you’ll be telling your friends about in 2-3 years. However, there are plenty of conferences where you can do things like pay $1k+ to see pop stars speak about their business. So I convinced my wife to re-start SuperConf in 2020 with me. We’re giving away $30k+ in cash & prizes ($17k cash / $13k prizes) to companies launching their product to our audience. We have lightning talks from the community, lunches with the speakers, keynotes and an after party where everyone is invited, not just VIPs.

I really hope you’ll join us.

p.s. You’ll notice I don’t have comments enabled, just @bunsen me on twitter with your response and I’ll respond 🤓