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Should You Host A User Conference?

(This post was originally published on Forbes.com.)

If you’re a growing tech company in New Hampshire, you know you have to work for visibility. So over the years, we have literally trampled the globe, attending hundreds and hundreds of events, conferences, expos, and meetups. 

While many of these were both professionally and personally rewarding, we felt like none of them spoke directly to us. We were always searching for the “Holy Grail” – the perfect combination of technical competence with just enough fun and irreverence sprinkled in.

Try as we might, though, we couldn’t find what we were looking for. Then I remembered the words of a great man: Kevin Costner. “If you build it, they will come.” I figured if they could draw people to a cornfield-turned-baseball diamond in Iowa, it could work for us in New Hampshire too.

That’s why this past August, we hosted our first-ever Geek Summer Camp, a conference for the Internet infrastructure and web performance industries. The two-day event, held in our newly renovated headquarters in Manchester, boasted keynotes from people like Dean KamenCricket Liu and Joshua Baer – to name but three.

Cory von Wallenstein

Dyn CTO Cory von Wallenstein at Geek Summer Camp.

A lot of people have asked me why Dyn would take on the huge undertaking of hosting a conference. Well, I can think of four perfectly good reasons why we did so:

Sometimes, you just need to take the bull by the horns.

This is a valuable lesson that extends beyond this example into your business in general. If you wait around for others to do things, you are going to miss out on a lot of great opportunities. We couldn’t find the kind of event we wanted to be a part of – trust me, we looked. Instead of complaining about it, we decided to act.

We were unsure if Geek Summer Camp would be a success or a flop, but we didn’t really care. We thought, “At least we’ll have known we gave it a try.” That counts for something.

If you have something to offer, share it.

Yes, acknowledging that you don’t know everything is the best way for continued growth and success. But while humility is great, there comes a point when you’ve got to realize: I have become an expert.

This can seem scary, but it is a good reality check. Don’t shy away from this fact; embrace it. Once you’ve realized you have something to offer, share it. If you create a community of experts who are willing to share their expertise, you have the potential for incredible personal growth.

Remember, you can learn more by working together.

We work with a lot of great companies that are revolutionizing their industries – Box, Etsy, GitHub, HomeAwayRed Hat, etc. But what good does that do if we spend all of our time with our head in the weeds? Sometimes, you’ve got to step back from your day-to-day and collaborate with the people around you.

Getting together with these companies and listening to the challenges they’re facing and the solutions they’re providing is a refreshing change of pace. In addition to learning a great deal, it is a lot of fun and helps remind you that your clients aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, but cool people who enjoy a good time.

There’s nothing wrong with pride.

Part of what makes us entrepreneurs is the fact that we’re not easily satisfied. We look at the world and know it can be improved. While that is a crucial part of our DNA, every now and then, we need to step back and celebrate our accomplishments. There is nothing wrong with being proud of the company you’ve created, the clients you’ve helped, and the problems you’ve solved. Celebrate those accomplishments!

We’re proud of what we’ve built here in New Hampshire, and wanted to share it with all the attendees of Geek Summer Camp. We hope they’ll continue to share what they’re proud of with us. Together, we can all look forward to the things we will accomplish in the future.

Think of it as a “Field of Dreams” for techies. Not a bad way to spend a couple of summer days, especially since the risk of sunburn is minimum.


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Whois: Jeremy Hitchcock

Jeremy Hitchcock is Founder of Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance company that helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Follow him on Twitter: @jhitchco and @Dyn.