T3chFest is growing. The Madrid event held at Universidad Carlos III started as something purely for the academic audience, but as one of its organizers Mario Montes tells us, things have gone much more further. Fresh out of its 2019 edition, Montes talks about what worked, the more popular and newer topics, his pride on the project, and more.
AW: What made this T3chFest edition different?
MM: This time we’ve made a big jump in contrast to previous editions. Every year we try to professionalize some aspect of the event. We were able to unify several things and are very happy with the results. For the first time, we had accreditation for all attendees through a control access. We improved our sponsors’ stands, we livestreamed all the talks from the event… Regarding our stage montage, this year we invested many more resources in things like Track 1*, we’ve had many more speakers and a much bigger technical deployment.
*T3chFest’s many stages for talks were named Track 1, Track 2 and so on.
How was T3chFest 2019 in numbers?
MM: At T3chFest 2019 we finally managed to surpass 2,000 attendees. Last year we had 1,650. Additionally, we’ve streamed the five tracks of simultaneous talks surpassing 15,500 views in YouTube during the event. Between talks and workshops, which we had the previous Saturday in a day called “Learn with T3chFest” along with the Hackathon and similar activities, we’ve had a total of 120 activities. Most of them come from a public Call for Talks which this year got 650 pitches. It’s very difficult for us to pick the talks among so many options and each year we notice more and more how so many people want to come as speakers to T3chFest.
About social media, this year we were in the national trending topics list during all Thursday, reaching the second position by morning. We’re also a non-profit event that’s exclusively financed by our sponsors, and this time we had between 25 and 35 of them with stands of their own. In fact, we had a limited space to work with and we had sponsors in a waiting list so they could have a stand.
A very nice thing as well were the volunteers. This year we had 75 of them that worked at a very fast pace during those two days so everything could go smoothly.
What made you particularly proud this year? Why?
MM:I think that what makes me the most proud is the impact we’ve achieved. On Thursday we had a feeling that there were thousands of people talking about T3chFest, and not just people related to computing science. We’ve had people from all areas in the conference, from journalists to politicians and even youtubers and influencers.
Then there’s the simple fact of actually making the event. We’re about six people working during our free time. There are others that help us in the weeks prior and then the volunteers during the event itself. Sometimes, it’s very hard to find balance with your work, your personal life and organizing the conference.
There’s an important focus on the human side of technology, but you also cover a broad set of industry areas. Is there one in particular where you can see a bigger audience interest or growth?
MM: One of our objectives since a couple of years ago is talking about technology like a transversal element across all disciplines. Each years new areas emerge, so this year could say that those were: journalism and AI applied to fake news, transmedia and VFX on cinema; and then there are some that recurrent, like 3D bio-printing. One of our focuses is that we don’t want to lose the human values in technology.
We know that college and students play an essential role in T3chFest. How do you see that relationship going forward? Will the focus remain on the academic environment?
MM: We’ve had several editions now where the context isn’t just purely academic. In fact, 50% of our attendees are professionals and the other 50% college students, though in professional training as well. It’s one of the synergies that are created in the conference. We see it as a place of union between corporations and educational institutions.
Besides the conference itself, you have some initiatives that promote growth in the community. Are more projects like that coming? Is it something you want o expand upon?
MM: Totally. This year we launched “Grow with T3chFest” with two objectives. One was to keep T3chFest alive during the year so it wouldn’t be just a two-day event, the other one was to help others push forward. We don’t want to be just a another sponsor for those events, we want to be there the day before and help them get everything ready if that’s what they need.
Moreover, in this edition we decided to have “Learn with T3chFest” on the previous Saturday algonside workshops, Hackathon and family activities, an area with communication stands and social projects.
There’s always room to grow. Where do you see T3chFest can improve? Do you think there’s something missing?
MM: We’ve found that’s it’s going to be impossible for us to surpass the number of attendees in the university because there’s simply not much more space. That’s why next year we’ll probably center on the quality of the event. We’re always thinking of crazy ideas that we could apply for the event’s communications, doing parallel events or launch new initiatives.