Tech

FOWA 2009

FOWA Conference
FOWA Conference

Having lived a mile or so away from last year’s venue, I remember my local Twitter stream showing nothing but tweets from the conference. Many Web professionals talk highly of the Future Of Web Apps Conference (FOWA) and so this year I thought I would go along and see what the hype is all about. FOWA is organised by Carsonified who run events and workshops for Web professionals (designers and developers).

This year’s event was sponsored by companies such as Microsoft, Pay Pal, Vodafone and Yahoo, who all had stands with demos, competitions and some very cool freebies. The event, held at the Kensington Town Hall, was a sell out. It was hosted by Carsonified’s very own CEO Ryan Carson and boasted names such as Kevin Rose (Digg) and Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV) who received a fantastic reception from the FOWA crowd.

Ryan introduced a Twitter related application, developed to help FOWA conference goers to meet and find people with similar interests. The Hello App (@helloapp) works by entering the code attached to each chair in the conference hall. Your Twitter icon would then show where the seat was located on the online seating plan and you could then see who was sitting around you. Other commands such as ‘meets’ and ‘high fives’ would also be sent by the user to @helloapp and points would be gained in order to win prizes. Voucher codes were also scattered around the venue to gain points/ icons. There were prizes for various combinations of points/ icons collected. The big prize ( built to scale remote control truck) was won by Calvin Robinson who wasted no time in opening it!!!

Day one was kicked off by Kevin Rose who delivered an inspiring talk on how to get your site from one to one million users. All of the talks could be watched in the main auditorium or downstairs in the Sun (Microsystems) Startup Essentials ‘Chill Out’ lounge, where conference goers could sit on the bean bags, relax and watch the talks on the big screens. As well as the beanbag area, Sun Startup Essentials provided stand space for various music startups such as Audio Boo, GigLocator, Soundcloud and Mix Cloud , giving them access to network and show demos of their products to over 700 people. Stewart Townsend, Matt Hosanee and Lucy Hillman did a superb job and to top it all off, at the end of the first day, they provided pizza and beer for everyone! The official FOWA party (sponsored by PayPal) followed, which resulted in a lot of hungover people for Fridays session.

There was a noticeable increase in people watching the conference from the chill out room on Friday, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the presentations. The day ended with the highly amusing Gary and Keven show, which saw a girl from the audience, throw herself on stage and battle with another startup founder to ‘pimp their startup’. The Twitter feed in the background at times got unruly, but was extremely entertaining!

All in all, my first FOWA was great! The event was superbly organised and apart from the sketchy Internet, I think it went extremely well. I enjoyed the presentations a lot, although I felt there could have been a better representation from the UK; 80% of the speakers were American and despite the fact I thought they were really good and entertaining, it would have been nice to see some home grown talent.

Well done to everyone involved in the organising! A great success!

Tomorrow we will have the technical review of the talks.

6 thoughts on “FOWA 2009”

  1. Great post! Gutted I couldn’t make it to FOWA this year, so glad you’re reviewing it for those of us who couldn’t go.

    Looking forward to the tech review! 🙂

  2. Nice write up Leila.

    We were sooo busy at the Sun Startup Essentials chillout basement, if not serving 700 people pizza and beer in <7 minutes, we were giving out 'hangover packs', running a prize-draw, and discussing all the ways we can help startups & make introductions. Exhausting, but in a good way 🙂

    The speakers did vary in quality – maybe it's time for our community to step-up to the plate 🙂

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