I am on a plane to Money2020 in Las Vegas, and the fact that the plane just stopped in Goosebay in Canada to refill making the arrival to Philadelphia late enough to probably miss the connection to Vegas, in one word, sucks.
In fact, I will for sure have to elaborate my own blog post about frequent traveling, with a couple of sequels (and that is, indeed, another story).
Money2020 will be my 4th Fintech conference as a speaker in less then 6 weeks, together with Barcelona, Mexico City (Nextbank) and Boston (Sibos).
I have not opened the program of the conference yet, because the main focus, so far, was to make sure I have meaningful meetings with :
- some of the start-ups’ already in our portfolio,
- other potential VC to co-invest and share tips,
- few more companies candidates for our next batch of investments,
- many US and European folks that I already know and of course would love to say hi and catch up with.
I also received a very easy 200 pages document with all the 7500 delegates (name and company) and the opportunity to give 20 names and I would get their email – I gave up after the fourth page, WTF.
Obviously, I needed to spend time preparing the session where I am speaking at (the Barclays Investor day). All this in 4 days., with some 20 hours travel time before and another 20 after. Ah, it’s true. There is a conference also. I have to open the program to understand how many sessions, where, and kind of guess by the titles and the speakers which one is going to be interesting.
As you might have figured out already, I am truly passionate about social and business network, and the dynamics around it.
What NO conference (Fintech or not) has not cracked yet is the fact that the last thing people fancy is to sit down and listen to someone that unless is incredibly interesting, charismatic, funny and entertaining is not going to compete with your own smartphone, even without WIFI (saw a lot of Candy Crush games at conferences).
The second to last thing people is looking for is to cope with their own social skills, especially if you don’t have much of it.
In other words, most of the events think that an online database of the attendees list maybe in an app, without even some advanced skills matching (see my post on Mindtagger as an example) is enough to satisfy the reason number ONE people is going to conferences : meaningful networking.
Example of meaningful networking : the Fintech Funds session at Innotribe, where very senior people met on a preparation session, then on a panel, then chatted over a drink afterwards, and they were actually sincerely looking for sharing their experiences, even amongst competing banks.
These guys are absolutely unreachable to most of the audience usually, but gladly exchanged business cards with the less intimidated people (and I must admit the Innotribe karma helped a lot) after what I called a session they (me too, I was part of it) enjoyed a lot.
After the session, through socials I engaged with many new people, online obviously, but it didn’t feel like an intrusion, it was contextualised.
This is what I feel is missing in most of the conferences : contextualised business relationships.
That is why – as an example – makes a lot of sense to integrate designed workshops in the context of a conference as well as short speed dating amongst like-minded, as many events are now implementing.
Then, there is another fact. Banking business is not only very boring, but the way we talk about it today is extremely boring as well.
I would love to make the following test : take any banking conference and a given topic, then pick 5 minutes of each year’s session or panel, and listen to it. Not only you would hardly understand which year the debate took place, but you probably could run the same “wording bingo’ (not to call it bullshit) no matter who is talking.
It is obviously not true for all topics, but I could name a few like Correspondent Banking or SEPA in Europe (we talked at least 10 years about it) where if you take slides and years you could hardly tell the difference.
Fintech is no different from other industry where the disruption wave just started without causing any damages yet, therefore the dialogue is very condescending amongst the bankers, very dynamic amongst the disruptors, and kind of political between the two worlds.
Please, take into the account I am in the very typical conference-blowing-weekend pre-mood, so take this post with a pinch of salt
PS : I am publishing this post now, the evening of my return flight from Vegas. The conference is over, and I can only confirm all of what I wrote in this post.