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This article was published on January 15, 2018

These were the biggest takeaways from TNW New York

These were the biggest takeaways from TNW New York
Annick van Dijk

…. 1,000 attendees
…. 8 keynotes
… 45 round-table sessions
… 61 million Twitter impressions
… 22 very helpful volunteers
… 1,500 mentions of @TNWNYC
…. 1 Startup NYC Founders Cafe by Google Cloud
… 1,000 coffee cups for the Startup NYC Founders Cafe
… 5,000 unique users watching our Instagram story
… 1 trending hashtag, #TNWNY

These 10 numbers briefly summarize TNW New York, where 1,000 decision-makers came together to explore the digital technologies transforming tech, communication, and media businesses.

For our latest edition on December 12, we tried a completely different approach from our previous events. Instead of using our European format, we went invite-only and focused on three main industries. Changing tack like that was not only interesting for attendees, it also gave us the opportunity to learn a number of things we’d like to share.

1. Meet and greet, not spray and pray
This year, we decided to make TNW New York invite-only. New York is crowded with tech events and initially attractive XXL attendee lists just means that everyone is there, making it impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff while networking.

So we wanted to add more value to the whole experience by focussing on C-level professionals in technology, communication, and media businesses. This concept made it easier for attendees to connect over coffee. And if they didn’t connect over food or drinks, they met at one of the round-table sessions they had signed up for.

We had tested round-table sessions lightly at TNW New York 2016, and heavily at TNW Conference in Amsterdam last May. The outcome was incredibly candid, two-way conversations with experts about the way their subject matter affects your business. So we decided to focus on those this year in New York.

When we launched our sessions, they were fully booked within weeks. During the day, attendees were extremely engaged and really got to know the table hosts

In the end, meeting the right people is more important than meeting lots of people.

2. Size matters
Having 1,000 attendees, we were able to pick a relatively small venue. That didn’t just make it easy to find your way around, it also avoided running from one place to another to make it to the next roundtable or talk in time.

While Metropolitan Pavilion is located in Chelsea, in the midst of New York City, it still felt cosy and relaxed. People didn’t seem in a rush to find the next place to go or meet the next person. It also made it easier to add people from the waiting list to roundtables when someone canceled last minute, which meant the tables were on full capacity all day.

Accepting 1,000 attendees turned out to be a great way for people to have real conversations, rather than running around to collect business cards.

A cosy and relaxed atmosphere helps others get the most out of your event.

3. A handful of keynotes can be enough
With a heavy focus on roundtables, it simply wasn’t necessary to book more speakers than the day could hold. They had to be top-notch though.

Our keynote content revolved around leading technological changes that will impact different industries. We found forward thinking researchers and experts who were willing to share their vision on how this tech will change the way we work and live over the next 3-5 years.

Christopher Young, CEO of McAfee, came to talk about the importance of incorporating cyber security in your company culture. Tony Jebara, Head of Machine Learning at Netflix, described how to use machine learning for personalization. And Galia Benartzi, Co-founder of Bancor, explained cryptocurrency and the future of money.

We realised that sometimes, as long as you invite brilliant minds, eight speakers is enough.

4. Partners are key to creating variety
As the focus this year was on networking with colleagues, not selling, this year was the first time TNW New York didn’t have a exhibition area. But we did want to provide the opportunity to build relationships and learn from each other.

So when Google Cloud asked to host the NYC Founders Cafe, we were very happy to have them. It was a great way for startups founders to have a coffee, meet each other, and discuss the possibilities to grow by using Google Cloud.

Conferences can be hectic, and joining intimate round-table sessions all day can be intense. The chairs and sofas in the Google Cloud NYC Founder Cafe were perfect to relax, have a coffee and take a breath. It turned out to be the place to be for startups all day around.

Our lesson? The right partners can help you to create variety within the atmosphere you’ve created.

TNW New York gave us these and many other new insights that we’ll be using for our next event: TNW Conference in Amsterdam.

One thing we’ve already decided on is to double down on intimacy. Expect more than 500 intimate small-group sessions on offer in Amsterdam. 1,000 Super Earlybird Tickets will be available from January, 16. Click here if you want to learn more.