Some thought it was the height of conceit or stupidity (take your pick) to think that a 6-person nonprofit housed in a converted bus repair garage should put on a conference focused on the globalization of the cleantech business. Moreover, professional conference planners cried, “You’re ____ crazy!” to start planning this conference only three months out, rather than the one year planning period that’s normally taken. Our thinking was simple: we’re addressing global problems, it’s a global business, hence we need to start thinking about it in a global fashion. And, by the way, no one else was stepping to the plate, so why not? How hard could it be?
Well, the answer to the last question is its really, really can’t-sleep-at-night, this was my dumbest idea yet hard. More than once we thought it would be a disaster. Two weeks out and we only had 25 registered guests! And the cost of putting on a conference at the JW Marriott/LA Live facility was easily 5X more expensive than anything else we had done. Which, of course, requires generating 5X more sponsorship dollars than we’ve ever generated. We achieved a lot of these not so good “firsts” along with a few very good firsts. For example, we..
- We went from 25 to 400 attendees in less than two weeks.
- Had more than 70 speakers from more than 20 countries over two days. The Mayor, DOE Under Secretary, California Air Resources Board Chairman, the past President of the Int’l Brotherhood of Longshoreman, the Governor’s senior adviser on the Environment, three of the most prominent VCs in Southern California, 20+ leading entrepreneurs, the City’s Director of Import/Exporting, among many more.
- We raised more money from more sponsors than at any previous time
- We have been contacted directly by Germany, Mexico, Hong Kong, China and Israel to create formal MOUs. I’m flying to Berlin to review how they do incubators and to provide them with some best practices.
Not bad for six guys in a garage.
Five of those six guys got on a plane early the day after the Showcase for our first annual LACI South of the Border Strategic Retreat. Said retreat was held at “Corona Adobe” and “Little Big Sur”, both in Puerto Vallarta of course. First reports indicate no brain cells lost due to alcohol poisoning (though all the tests aren’t back yet), intense strategic discussions took place in between snorkeling, drinking, eating, and repairing my motorcycle, one jelly fish sting was incurred during an underwater expedition, and we found out that several of the team had pretty good pitching arms. All in all, we did a lot of work on vision, mission, strategy, business model, revenue-generation programs…
Well, that’s it for now. KR and I are planning our next trip – to Central America this holiday season. We’ll keep you informed. Here’s the link to the Corona Adobe web site.