d1a1ea_3c9866fc4b8644288d09f283c928e5d5Friday, August 15th, marked the first annual Tech Coast Conference Sponsored by the City of Jacksonville Chamber IT Council and many other corporate sponsors. My husband/Business Partner went to see what it was all about!

www.techcoastconference.com

My humble observations and musings.

I heard about the conference from someone on the IT council as well as a few other people in the tech industry. I am sad to say that the event was not well publicized. I promoted it as much as I could, however, most IT professionals I spoke with (even up to the day before the event) had no idea what I was talking about.

This being the First Annual Conference, I have a lot of suggestions and comments. My aim is not to be critical or mean, I simply want to help this nugget of an enterprise get off to a roaring start for 2015 and become a staple of the Jacksonville Event Circuit.

The Website

  • The website was sub par. Wix is not the way I would go. Especially with this even being run by IT professionals, let alone a conference full of them. The website said Apple would be represented. I am not sure what happened, but NO apple. Microsoft and IBM were the only companies of that nature that were there to represent.
  • There was a BEAUTIFUL APP (Built by C7 Creative). Way to go guys! On par with what the conference aspired to be.

Arriving/Check-in/Registration

  • There were no signs to tell us “PARKING THIS WAY” or “KEEP GOING ITS ON YOUR RIGHT” etc. There was a tiny yard sign at the entrance of the parking lot which was NOT on the main road.
  • Checkin was Chaotic. Beyond chaotic. Pencil and paper to track who was checking in? Someone told me to move to a different line if I was signing up for the first time, someone told me another line was for preregistration and another line was for people who had pre-registred but only if your name was p-z y first name. Confused yet? I was. Eventbrite would be my FIRST choice for Registration. And, since the event is free, Eventbrite does NOT charge for the use of its super awesome app and online registration which can be embedded into the website or mobile app. The other addition, MORE signage that clearly marks the register, preregister lines. (In fact, an event planner might be in order for next year. They know all the tricks!)

The Entertainment

  • The MCs of the event were not well received by the crowd. I love Deemable Tech (I’ve guest hosted the show many times), but the audience was having none of their bad IT jokes and simple banter. In a room full of mostly males, with the female population in IT growing, I would like to see an engaging woman MC next year, I volunteer and accept! (PS: this does not just mean a pretty face and gams.)
  • The prize drawings were outdated using tear off carnival tickets and a whiteboard to announce winners. For those who left early (the ones who had to go back to work) they did not get a chance to see if they actually won something. I think the prize drawings should be integrated into next year’s app (thus enticing more people to sign on and use the app) and into the schedule to have everyone check their app to see who won.

The Speakers

  • Keynote Speakers Amaba and Erfat were amazing. The highlight of the day for sure. They started the everything off right. The panels were ok, and the moderators did their best to reign in over talkative guests. I would have liked to see a more town hall style meeting. Perhaps, a topic broached by moderators, panelists answer one by one, then questions from the audience on that topic, second topic, etc.

The Sessions

  • We attended two Breakout Sessions. Starting Your Business by the SBDC and Marketing Yourself by the Dean of IT at that FSCJ campus. I am not sure that those two classes fit the agenda seeing as the rest of the sessions had names like “Cloud”, “Big Data”, “Mobile”, etc. I wish I had gone to Mobile (taught by Calvin C7 President) or “Social Media” (taught by Bucketwish Co-Founder Raquel). Then there were other breakout sessions that made no sense. “Products” was described as two companies sitting down and explaining their product lines (hour long commercial?). What about Robotics? It was described as students showcasing their work to the IT community. I think it would be the other way around. A leader in Robotics in the area should have come to speak to IT professionals and students a like about the burgeoning robotics field and where we stand locally.

Overall

  • I will likely go back again. It was free after all. Heck I would even pay $25 to go if there were some changes made. Again, these are just my comments. I believe that this has the potential to be one of the great tech conferences of the SouthEast. Back to the planning committee, The next conference is only 357 days away!

Let the Live Tweeting Begin:

[accordion title=”7:15-8:15a”]

Registration/Networking

Breakfast from Chickfila and Hosted by Deemable Tech

 

[/accordion] [accordion title=”8:15-8:45a”]

Welcome from Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and President of Downtown Campus FSCJ Dr. Marie Gnage


[/accordion]
[accordion title=”8:45-9:45a”]

Keynote Speaker Dr. Ben Amaba, IBM

Keynote Speaker Paz Efrat, Microsoft

[/accordion] [accordion title=”9:45-11:15a”]

 CIO Pannel: Jack Sumner – LPGA, Wy Kendrick – JEA, James Hughes – Everbank, Chris Eagle – Crowley, Dale Johnson – Regency Centers, Karen Green – Brooks Rehabilitation


[/accordion]
[accordion title=”11:30-12:30p”]

Breakout Sessions Mobile

Starting Your Own Business

 


[/accordion]
[accordion title=”12:30-1:15p”]

 Lunch


[/accordion] [accordion title=”1:15-2:30p”]

Entrepreneur Discussion Panel Liz Pierce – Moment Strong, Ed Baldwin – Profile Gorilla, Raghu Misra – Ship Xpress, Kishore Nair – Omnition Analytics, Grant Fields – Ignite, Angel Torres – The Logica


[/accordion]
[accordion title=”2:45-3:45p”]

Breakout Sessions Self Marketing

[/accordion]