Rise Conference 2015, Hong Kong: Where East meets West
Whether it’s learning about the latest trends or networking with potential clients, attending conferences is one of the most valuable investments you can make professionally. Conferences of any kind can be an eye-opening experience, especially to someone looking to make profits in their prospective field. Whether you need new work, knowledge and partners or just want to gain experience, the up and coming abundance of conferences can be a great asset.
It’s been a while since Team ‘ReviewIt’ attended the RISE Conference, Hong Kong and below are my reflections on our experience of the event. There were 5,438 attendees, from more than 70 countries with the biggest names in the tech world, more than 140 speakers, 145,000 tweets in 72 hours, a high interest in our unique product, many business cards and great hospitality. Here’s the wrap up of RISE, 2015.
31st July-1st Aug, the city of Hong Kong was packed with people who traveled from all over the world to attend RISE; a big tech conference. All with one mission: meet the right people. Amazing event, indeed: I still have to recover from all those speeches, beers, new friends and acquaintances I made along the way. While I sit in the silence of my workplace, far from the noise of the excited techies, it’s time to take stock of the experience. Would I go through it again? Definitely. Would I recommend it? No doubt.
Notable names that attended the event include Neil Shen (Sequoia Capital Founder), Jenny Lee (GGV Capital Managing Partner), Dave McClure (500 Startups Founder), John Collison (Stripe Cofounder), Werner Vogels (Amazon CTO), Takeshi Idezawa (Line CEO), Ray Chan (9Gag Cofounder), among others
To be one of 5000+ attendees is a very thrilling experience. The kick-off event connecting start-ups from across the globe was networking at the Pub Crawl and Night Summit. To capture the two with mere words would be impossible, but I will say that sharing ideas and opinions with other great entrepreneurial minds from across the globe was everything I had imagined and more. It truly broadens your horizons in addition to the valuable insights you get first hand.
What an amazing symposium. The numbers were staggering: 5,438 attendees from 70+ countries, 140 speakers, 525 startups, 300 investors, 225 media. RISE was the first tech event in Asia by the same guys behind the Web Summit launched in 2013 and the Collision conference in Las Vegas.
We had managed to get Alpha tickets which gave us a stand for a day and general entry tickets for both days. Along with other start-ups we rocked up to our stand in the Enterprise Area on Day 1. Most of the early traffic was breezing through the centre aisle and casting a quick look over the long row of start-ups without doing much stopping to engage. Attendees span the spectrum. C-level execs from companies and founders of small startups just launching gather to swap stories and lessons learned annually. Having a team of 7 people allowed us to switch strategy and we decided to keep 4 persons on the stand while the other three started to introduce ourselves to the other companies.
Anyone who’s attended a conference is familiar with the challenges around locating, identifying and connecting with those other attendees you want to speak with. Attendees come to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and gain insight through common experience. Others seek opportunities to do business together and collaborate. The team created an app that encourages the kind of serendipity that can only happen at an event like RISE. Not only can the app be used to connect with existing contacts, it also employs a sophisticated recommendation engine to match people who should know each other based on common interests and other shared traits.
To send an email and receive feedback within a few hours , it’s not an exception: it’s exceptional. So, hats off to all the staff, volunteers included. I have never seen so many smiling youngsters, always kind and willing to help. One of the best points was Paddy’s informing mails before and during the Conference as well. We were notified about every important speaker, stand and program. It also succeeded in launching a networking app which we could use to find and chat with anyone attending RISE
The site of the event was the Hong Kong Convention Center. 6 Stages took place over two days; Centre Stage, Enterprise Stage(a gathering of the best Founders and CEOs with the tips startups need to know), Builders Stage (a dedicated stage for technology creators, software developers, and web designers to share their ideas with new generations), Marketing Stage, Machine Stage(an opportunity to learn about the IoT revolution that is redefining how we interact with everyday products using the internet) & PITCH Stage. All bring an exciting edge to the different industries they relate to, with the Centre Stage bringing together some of the most recognisable names in tech for some fascinating discussion, interviews and talks.
The Night Summit
It would be nigh on impossible to have an event of this scale in Hong Kong without a strong social element. Paddy and his team certainly left no stone unturned in entertaining the attendees in the evening time. There were no lack of parties going on in the city centre and there was a great buzz around town. The night before the main event was spent catching some talks and meeting some of the companies along some of the liveliest streets of Hong Kong
The RISE Conference was a great opportunity to meet investors, Angel investors and VCs, willing to collaborate with your company’s success. Scheduled roundtable meetings, stand pass by opportunities and pre-scheduled meetings were the best chances startups had to pitch and show off their great products and services. However, if there were investors around the place they were scarce or were in disguise as general ‘attendees’. You can’t blame them really. Who wants to spend their time at a conference being stopped by random people they’re unlikely to ever meet again and being pitched to. My take away was to build a relationship with investors/VC’s first. Ask for advice and don’t go looking for dollars. It can be a bit insulting to appear to only be interested in their money so you have to really understand and adjust to the human dynamic at play.
Networking and competition
Meeting other startups, CEOs, COOs, CTOs, Developers, attendees and almost everyone you can imagine was a great opportunity to create networking bonds that could eventually lead to future opportunities. The event was also a great chance to get to know your competition better. By pre-looking at the startup list or just walking by the venue, you could learn a lot about what everyone else is doing and where the market is heading to.
RISE held a startup competition that had two categories, the ‘Pitch’ category, which saw two IoT startups and one genetics startups battle it out in the finals, and the ‘Breakthrough’ category for companies just starting out.
The winner for the ‘Pitch’ final event was Ambi Climate, a smart air conditioning device, while the winner for the ‘Breakthrough’ event was Goxip, a mobile-first app that allows users to search, discover & shop fashion by image recognition, text search and celebrity style feeds.
While there was a big focus that was put on ‘ALPHA’ stage startups that were still in the super early stage, there were also more established startups that exhibited as part of the ‘START’ section including EduKart, Peatix, aCommerce, TradeGecko, Shopline, HotelQuickly, re:3D and more.
RISE was Asia’s first technology conference where all the influential people of the industry came together to discuss, learn, get experiences and try themselves, even as speakers or exhibitors. It’s the place to go if you want to learn the future trends of tech life, boost your startup and network like you’ve never done before.