New Orleans is hosting a technology-startup-investor's conference that will coincide with one of the city's and the world's signature events, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. That conference, in fact, goes by the name, Collision.
Collision is the "sister event" of Web Summit, a massive conference held in Ireland which started with only four hundred attendees and which has recently attracted over 42,000 people.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with its Head of Communications, Mike Harvey, to discuss this upcoming “tech meets money” shindig that happens to end when the music of Jazz Fest, begins.
According to Harvey, Collision started two years ago, in Las Vegas. It decided to come to New Orleans and become bigger and better than before. Thanks in part, to the dedicated efforts of New Orleans entrepreneur Chris Schultz, Collision I, begins its New Orleans journey April 26 and closes April 28.
Harvey said that last year, the Las Vegas event attracted around 7,500 visitors. This year, that number has already been exceeded.
"The heart of Collision is the investors and the startups", said Harvey. It will have 650 startups exhibiting and roughly 400 investors who will discuss commercial tendencies and opportunities.
There will be 10 stages of content focused upon sports, music, media and other verticals, top technology companies, notable people from these fields. For fun mixed with opportunities, which is the essence of New Orleans entrepreneurship, the night life will light up with parties, pub crawls and dinners.
In considering New Orleans as its new venue, Collision was looking for a place with amazing culture and entrepreneurial spirit and with the addition of Jazz Fest, attendees can "come to jazz and take tech" or "come to tech and take Jazz".
Collision has great visions for this event in New Orleans--SXSW in Austin, which started about 30 years ago as a small music event. Harvey said it is using the template from its successful Web Summit and "hopefully, it will work out".
In part 2 of the recorded interview, we compared how this event compares to the CES in Las Vegas, since Collision mentions that expo on its website.
While CES is focused upon products, Collision is focused upon connecting such as its “Office Hours” program which links investors and startups in a 15 minute “speed dating” setup, based upon their respective interests and industries.
“A lot of companies have gotten funding or been sold from the relationships they built at our events, said Harvey. For example, just recently the company Human was bought by uber" where they met and started talking.
One of the featured speakers, for example, is Brett Favre who will discuss in the Sports Summit, how technology changes the way sports is done. Collision will have a number of NFL players who will talk about how athletes use technology to reach out to new audiences. Other industry and vertical greats, for instance, even in the music field, will discuss how music is disseminated and produced.
In part 3, Harvey discusses one of the major events, the Pitch competition where about 150 companies are entering to pitch their business to investors. The final is held on the center stage on the last day, so that's a way showcasing in front of a bigger audience than just the exhibitions. Another really popular program is the startup university stage.
"So, its basically a one day stage and what we do is we try and encourage some of the speakers who have actually gone way beyond the startups angle to try and give back", said Harvey. These events are packed.
I kind of put Harvey on the spot by asking him to identify some of his favorite speakers who will be on the stages. You’ll have to watch the third video to learn about his preferences.
In part four, Harvey is asked to give his own pitch as to why people, of any and all walks of life, should be interested in attending Collision New Orleans. He said “the people who come to our events are those who will be building the companies of tomorrow are talking to the people who are running the companies, of today”.
He said it’s that intersection of innovation and creativity that sparks the stuff that flies at the event.
“WE try to make sure people connect with the right people”, he said.
What is really impressive and seems to separate this event from so many others, is the goal of linking people to the “right people”
For example, the Head of Communications for the event said, "We have an event app which we recommend people download".
The app contains a recommendation system, “so we sort of understand what your connections are we recommend talks, we recommend who to chat to, there's a chat system within the app and we find that is a really good way for people to connect.”
So, if you’re looking to watch incredible musical performances the world has to offer, if you’re seeking the “right connections” to jump-start your tech-related business and if you crave intellectual sparks that can pay dividends, then you’ll want to meet head-on at the intersection of inspiration and creativity. It’s called Collision and it’s held next week, in New Orleans.
And don’t forget about “All that jazz”