It's been just over two weeks since the 10th ffconf ran. I'm only just closing up the final bits of the event, and I know that Julie is still working on her side of the post event tasks.
What, a, year. Going by all the kind words during and after the conference: you loved it - which in turn makes the event even better for me and Julie.
10 years of you
At the start of each year, I've asked you all to stand for a photo and attempt to capture the moment right before we start our event. It's been an honour to stand in front of over 3,500 people over 10 events and welcome you all to what's essentially me finding the best people out in the world to come teach me in a beautiful cinema.
This collection of images doesn't do it full justice, but when I see all these faces, and all these smiles, over all this time, it really does bring warmth to my heart.
Our speaker family grows
I'm so honoured and indebted to the truly amazing people who answered my request to have them speak at ffconf.
Each individual who spoke was emailed asking if they would speak on a specific topic.
Then, at the last moment, I had to step up to fill in a talk which was a twist in the story I wasn't expecting! I was also partly filled with dread as I expect so much from the ffconf speakers, and now I had to deliver my talk to the same high standard: no pressure!
Thankfully my talk went well and seemed to fit in really well in the curation order - to the point that allowed Tim to riff off my talk as he opened his, with "if you thought that (Remy's talk) was useless, wait 'til you get a load true useless!"
Being as it's the 10th event, as a surprise for the Friday closing notes, I gave a very short presentation on events. I love that our event has changed over the years, and the logo is the first place you'll see that. Intentionally designed to be ambiguous, here they all are in their ff glory!
And the whole time, the months and months that go on, hidden, behind the scenes is Julie and our family and as the event is such a large part of mine and Julie's lives, it has also spilled out into our kids. Who, over the years have helped to pack and prepare lanyards, stick stickers, throw t-shirts, and who have always made an appearance at the end of our event 😍👨👩👧👦❤️
Changing of faces
The very first ffconf was a different experience to the tenth. I was ignorant to diversity (or at least my part to help) and I know our attendees were made up almost entirely of white men (sure, our event wasn't unique in it's ignorance).
As the years moved forward, my eyes were opened up to my role in being an organiser of ffconf. I'm proud to say that looking out to the two days of attendees and speakers our event is making good progress to changing the faces I've looked out at over the years.
In part, I believe that our scholarship programme has had a big hand in this change. I'm incredibly proud of our scholarship programme, and I know that Julie puts a tonne of time into planning travel and accommodation for those who need it.
I know that making the event inclusive for everyone is a "long game", but I've also seen first hand that it's starting to pay off, and it's messages like the following that tells us we're doing the Right Thing:
2 years ago I attended my first #ffconf on a diversity ticket, fresh out of GA bootcamp. Today my job paid my way. Next year, maybe I can afford to buy someone else's diversity ticket to pay it forward.
Attended #ffconf in 2016 thanks to @rem and @julieanne's scholarship. The inspirational speakers and welcoming community were a big part of giving me the confidence to keep coding, attend bootcamp and become a developer. Cheers guys, hope everyone has a great time @ffconf 😊
A massive thank you to everyone who helped organise #ffconf yesterday (and today). It was honestly one of the best conferences I have been to. Every speaker was incredible and engaging and the diversity both in the audience and on stage was wonderful!
It is, and continues to be an honour to pay host to our ffconf scholarships 🙏
10 years, more?
In 2015 our event sold out in 6 minutes. Every ticket went, and even though Julie and I should have been pleased and happy, instead we felt guilt that so many more people were telling us the really wanted to attend but now couldn't.
So we doubled the event. Running it twice. A unique format to meet the demand that was out there.
That's to say: conferences are meeting and indeed, have met demand.
We can also see it in the way the tickets sell throughout the lead up to our ffconf. We sold all our Friday tickets and had literally a handful left for Thursday. But that still meant that mine and Julie's time in the months before was spent on marketing, spreading the word, and trying to be sales people instead of doing what we do really well: just run the damn thing.
As such, we've decided that we will run ffconf 2019, and it will be a single day event. The web community wanted more events, and it now has more events.
Conor Haining, who came to ffconf the last two years on a student ticket, wrote:
[Remy and Julie Sharp] create an fantastic atmosphere which is like they have invited a huge group of strangers into their front room to watch a bunch of really interesting stuff.
Conor nails it. Bigger isn't better, in my books. Julie and I want to continue to offer that feeling year after year. This, from another attendee is what we strive for:
The conference was fabulous: the talks were well curated; the crowd was friendly and I felt like I really belonged; the crowd felt like a giant family.
Even as the head count of attendees will decrease, we will still promise to support student priced tickets, and we will continue to run a full scholarship programme that continues to cover travel, hotel and conference pass.
We'll see you next year
ffconf is a small intimate event that will leave you inspired and warm with the feeling that people are at the core of the web. We're going to keep doing that.
Thank you for reading ❤️