Last weekend was all about WordCamp Europe! The city of Leiden in the Netherlands got shaken up by the WordPress people. The first and biggest WordPress European event was something to remember as there were lots of great stories told, new things learned, friendships made, and it was all topped up by the wildest event after party I have seen recently. So if you were not there you definitely missed a lot!
There was a vast area of topics covered by the event schedule: starting from the strictly business aspects of setting up and running a WordPress related business, going through the highly technical dev stuff and being spiced up with insights by quite a few of the WordPress core people. My personal favorite was Vladimir Prelovac’s case study on how he grew a global business around ManageWP from his home country Serbia, which he describes as “a country that only got PayPal this year”. His story clicked with what SiteGround experienced throughout its development as a company on so many points that it was amazing. Of course, the fact that the WordPress lead developer - Andrew Nacin, was the one to overview what is coming up in WordPress 3.7 and that the WordPress founder - Matt Mullenweg, was also there for an extensive Q&A session lifted the event level quite high as a whole. All lectures were recorded, so keep an eye on WordPress.tv - they should be posted there so that everyone who couldn't make it to Leiden, could see them.
The People and the Parties
One of the greatest experiences for our team was meeting in person so many of our great Dutch customers. Having the chance to get first-hand feedback is priceless, and hearing so many good things is rewarding. Thank you all for coming to see us at the booth and for joining us for the coolest SG dinner ever. You also helped us make the day extra special for our very own Philip, who chose to be among WordPress folks and represent SiteGround exactly on his birthday.
Apart from our customers we met many WordPressers everywhere: at the lectures, in the hotel, in all the bars and restaurants in Leiden. The WCEU official after party was also quite wild. With so many beer and dancing it was amazing how many people showed up on time for the WordPress 3.7 overview on the next day.
The Sponsors Section
The sponsors section was one thing easy to miss even if you were at WCEU. It was placed in a separate pretty hard-to-find room one floor up from the main hall entrance. I personally spent quite some time there, as SiteGround was one of the sponsors that had a table. I can say that all the people, who backed up financially WCEU were quite cool: there were no annoying hard sell talks; the swag was original and cool (a Team Treehouse sticker was really enjoyed by my daughter and saved me, as I had no time to get another decent present from the trip); the people were friendly, ready to share their stories and ideas and willing to hear what you have to say about your experience with WordPress. It was a real pity that the location of the room made it harder for the sponsors to come face-to-face with more visitors. For me sponsoring a great event like WCEU and knowing that we, as a company, have helped it happen is something rewarding itself, but it was a little disappointing to be isolated from all the buzz and the energy of the event.
So to cap: from a visitor’s standpoint WordCamp Europe was a great experience! I was inspired, I had fun, I heard many great stories both on and off stage, new ideas were born about how we can do things better. So I can only say: if you have a chance to visit a WordCamp, don’t miss it. It is totally worth it! However, from a sponsor's standpoint I expected a little bit more.