PandoDaily the online startup webzine will be holding Pandoland a Startup conference in Nashville TN on June 15th-17th.
Pandoland is Pando’s annual festival of entrepreneurship, technology, and Southern culture. In 2015, the event will be held June 15th-17th at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN with a confirmed lineup including filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas, Fab co-founder Bradford Shellhammer, Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp, SoulCycle co-founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, BuzzFeed Chairman Ken Lerer, Stack Overflow CEO Joel Spolsky… and dozens more.
I was debating asking for a press pass, but being that I’m currently in the Denver area it’s too far to travel for an event of this type. As to whether you should go? I’d say that if you are interested in the startup world and are in the Nashville area it would be a good idea. At $699 the ticket price is reasonable for this type of event, and there is no better way to understand the startup world than to actually be around it.
My personal concerns about this event are why I’m not willing to pay the cost to travel to it. They have no agenda listed on the website for the event. Not only does this mean I don’t know what to really expect out of 3 days of conference, but it also shows a lack of attention to detail that is worrying. There is an idea many times with these types of events that people will attend because they “should” attend, and so basic logistics and planning can be sorely lacking. The other issue I see is no link to any kind of sponsor packet. Even if you have no intention of sponsoring an event the sponsorship packet is useful to look at because it generally breaks down the events numbers and expectations. Packets will show last years attendance numbers, demographic breakdowns, projections for this year and usually an argument for why this year will be even better than the last. With no sponsorship packet to look at I can’t figure out if they expect 6000 or 60 attendees.
The final item that concerns me is the posting today that they are giving away tickets (http://pando.com/2015/06/01/be-my-guest-to-pandoland-2015-2/). These are termed comped tickets, and whenever I see tickets being openly comped it makes me flat out scared of the event. The dirty secret in the event world is that you don’t actually have to sell tickets for events at their face value. So many events boost their attendance numbers by giving away tickets. As the average attendee you arrive at the event and think it must be the place to be because all the people around you were willing to shell out money to attend, but what you don’t see is that many times your fellow attendees are just local people in the tech scene that received a free ticket. (I literally attended an event with a close to 90% comp rate.)
Those are my concerns and why I’m not willing to drag my trailer 1300 miles to attend. Honestly if I was within 500 miles I probably would. I don’t believe Pandoland will be a great conference, and there’s much to make me think it won’t even be a good one, but any time you get to be in the same room with a bunch of folks trying to bring ideas to life it should be considered a valuable opportunity. Being that this is held so far from what most folks would consider centers of tech it may be the only conference many people can get to without having to fly a few thousand miles.
Check out Pandoland here: http://www.pandoland2015.com