If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you already know that I’m in Hong Kong to be a part of the amazing RISE Conference, as Media. I was invited by James – one of the founders of RISE, Web Summit, SURGE – last year, which was going to be the first year for RISE Conference. I could not attend it then, I was already committed to an international travel project. Also, I asked him – Why Me? And he wrote back, why not. Well, I told him, I’m not into drones and neither do I find technology startups particularly exciting, ha-ha (Yeah, I am know to be risky honest and then to make it weird by laughing like a maniac for no reason. Don’t ask). I wrote to him that I’m a travel and lifestyle writer and I don’t think I’d fit well with RISE conference.
You’d be surprised how wrong you are, his mail said. He sent me links to some of the media coverage RISE conference had got, after it was over. Goes without saying, I was mighty intrigued. I knew then that not going was a mistake. Maybe they’ll invite me next year, I thought.
And they did! James invited me again and this year, I didn’t waste a second to say Yes I’m In, Bro. I actually wrote that, I think. My social skills, even on electronic medium, are questionable and weird, but I told you that already so we’re cool. Right? Right.
Anyway. I planned to head to Hong Kong and Skyscanner came on board because I wanted to make the most of this trip and what more does a travel writer want than an association with a brand that she actually loves and totally swears by? Nothing more, that’s correct. So I was all set, ta da!
And today was Day 1 of RISE Conference. I went to the Hong Kong Convention Centre not knowing what to expect. I mean, I have attended a million and twenty six travel, lifestyle and digital media (which is my profession, by the way, my full time job that pays the bills etcetera) conferences before but this was a tech startup conference. What did I know about technology? Or startups? Well, obviously not too much. I write and I travel and my digital media job keeps me pretty busy anyway. So yeah, I didn’t know what to expect.
My simple strategy was to go meet the few travel startups that were participating, and a few other lifestyle teams that I liked in the RISE conference App, and to listen to a few sessions that had interesting folks on the panel (read BitTorrent and Grab, yohoo!) before heading home and pitching the story ideas to the publications I write for. Easy breezy. Not. Because it turns out, James was right. I was surprised how wrong I was about RISE.
The place was buzzing with energy that was contagious and it blew my mind. Meeting people who had great products, stunning ideas and innovative approach to not just technology, but travel, lifestyle, finance and yes, drones. Exciting max!
By noon, I had exhausted my visiting cards and had about seven different story ideas. I decided to stop being a travel snob and take everything in. I felt like a part of the madness, and it was a spectacular feeling. It was a great, great first day and I am glad I took this opportunity to witness something that is so vibrant and buzzing with creativity that it leaves you inspired to the core.
Sorry for taking too long to get to the stuff I promised you in the title. I’m a story teller, you guys – can’t do without compulsively telling you the complete back story. Deal with it, okay?
So here is the list of cool stuff I promised you. Drum roll, please.
Seven Cool Things That I Witnessed at RISE Conf Day 1:
1. I’ll start with the session that happened at the very end. Listening to Grab Co-Founder Tan Hooi Ling about the struggles they faced, about the expansion plans they have, about how Grab analyses the huge real-time data they collect in order to try and match consumer demand – was the perfect end to Day 1 at RISE Conference.
2. Meeting some amazing people with great ideas that made me go wow in response. Literally. I said wow at least fifty times today which must be some sort of a personal record. I met Aditya of TipStop.in and loved how he created the product as a side project, simply because he felt the need for it in the market, and was genuinely surprised when the product started doing well within no time. I met the lovely team of Lazy Suitcase, they are driven and passionate and are a travel startup with lots of potential so I loved them almost instantly. I spoke to the people at Radix who have super cool domains for anyone who’s had enough of the dot coms and the dot ins. In fact, I advice all my blogger friends to check them out for .press, .space and more such interesting domains. Why be boring, right? I met so many driven people with brilliant ideas here at RISE Conference today that a highlight post won’t do justice to it. I’ll write in details later but for now, I wish them a bright future and I hope they stay gold. You guys, you know who you are. Keep it up!
3. Hearing Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO of Hike Messenger, was a major highlight of the day. He was honest when he said that the possibility of cross platform messaging is weak, because it doesn’t make sense in terms of revenue and user experience. He said, and I quote – “Messaging drives data demand in India which benefits both telecoms and mobile messaging”. Good learning, great session.
4. A thrilling talk about fully autonomous drone operation platform that will make sure that the drones are charged and ready to execute missions on an on-demand basis. Did I say I was not into drones? Scratch that. I absolutely love drones, thanks to SwarmX CEO Pulkit Jaiswal.
5. Being present accidentally near the venue when Min-Liang Tan of Razer came on stage and talked about how to keep a community engaged. The community he deals with is a passionate bunch of gamers, so you know he got it right. To someone like me, who works in digital media with focus on community building for GIO Adventures and other clients through Social Media, this was very inspiring. And – I am a (now-reformed) addicted gamer (XBOX 360 + Kinect), so I hear you Mr. Tan – gaming is beautiful.
6. Meeting fellow media people. There aren’t many Indians as Media here, but I made friends with a freelancer from Thailand and a journalist from Singapore and both these girls are now going with me to the RISE Pub Crawl tomorrow. Bring your A game to us, Hong Kong Night Life, we’re ready.
7. Hearing Saul Williams say “Artists used to make music to break the system, now they make music to be a part of it.” at the session titled The Revolution Will Be Distributed, along with Bit Torrent’s Straith Schreder. It was a treat, this session.
What a day right? And these are just the highlights according to me. Exciting – That’s how my first day at RISE Conference went, and even though I missed out on a few very good sessions because I was interacting with people or maybe running to the cafe downstairs for orange juice – I am all set for tomorrow and I’ve even prepared a list to keep me on track.
Stay tuned for my RISE Conference Day 2 Updates, which I will probably publish on day 3 because it’s not like I don’t have to Crawl the Pubs tomorrow night with my new girls. Heehee, just kidding. I’ll do a quick, and more importantly – a shorter (you’re welcome) update tomorrow. Until then, keep exploring, keep inspiring!