Indianapolis is a world-class event city. According to a study commissioned by Visit Indy, 28.6 million visitors came to Indianapolis in 2016, resulting in an economic impact of $5.2 billion. Of course, the city’s booming business of hosting conventions, trade shows, meetings and events is a key contributor to this economic windfall.
While a number of large user conferences still converge on the circle city, and rotating tech-related events land here every few years, nothing has yet replaced the former ExactTarget Connections tech conference, which was hosted in Indianapolis for eight years and drew more than 10,000 people its final year (2014). That could be about to change.
We asked Lessonly to share how its new tech conference “Yellowship” came to be and what it brings to Indy. Kyle Lacy, vice president of marketing at Lessonly, offers his take on how Yellowship contributes to our tech ecosystem.
Just a few days from now, Lessonly’s first conference sets sail. It’s called Yellowship.
Starting a conference from scratch has been a massive undertaking—the Lessonly team has been planning Yellowship for more than a year. There are few things more consuming (at least in the tech world) than obsessing over an in-person experience for our customers and closest friends. Here are a few thoughts about how we decided to plan a conference, why we wanted it in Indy, and what we learned along the way.
Yellowship is about Fellowship
A conference is the perfect way for a software company with product-market fit to appreciate and engage customers while building a community around the brand. In fact, that’s how we named the event.
As we began brainstorming for a conference, our team realized that we’ve grown most from meaningful, face-to-face relationships. If we could cultivate more of those personal moments with our customers or prospects, there would be no better way to turn work connections into true friendships. Fuse the idea of fellowship with our yellow logo, and Yellowship was born.
Experience is Everything
Skimping on a conference is a bad idea. The smallest of details can make a huge impact on your attendees. We’re lucky to have a world-class event master, Katie Brunette, who led our team through every decision, from conceptualizing the conference and booking amazing keynote speakers to branding pillows and cocktail napkins.
If you’re thinking about a conference as a way to make money, you’re in the wrong game. This wasn’t a cheap endeavor. But working intentionally to manage the budget, partnering with other fantastic organizations, and always choosing to prioritize the attendee experience leads to a conference worth attending.
It’s Not About The Product
It’s easy to host a conference with your company as the hero. I’ve attended many conferences where the product keynote is the primary focus of the entire event. Our goal with Yellowship is that our product isn’t the hero—our customers are.
The theme of the conference, Learn Together, Win Together, is the primary framework we used to build out Yellowship. Every decision we’ve made has an end goal to help people grow and do better work. That means the product is secondary. We have just three days to invest in the attendees and their teams—our product will always be there.
Can’t Beat the Hometown
We’re lucky to be a part of the growing Indy tech community, so it’s important to us to spotlight the Circle City. Our hope is that Yellowship furthers Indianapolis’ reputation as a tech hub and leads the charge for more tech conferences in Indy.
Unsurprisingly, the support we’ve received from the community to plan such an event has been nothing short of phenomenal. Indy is a great place to build a tech company and an equally awesome place to introduce Yellowship. On behalf of the entire Lessonly team, thanks to everyone who has played a role in making this conference a reality.
More Than Just a Conference
Yellowship takes place at the Mavris Arts & Events Center in downtown Indy from April 17-19. As of last week, it is sold out.
Yellowship is more than just an event, it’s the idea that every attendee gets to shape and define their team’s success. Here’s to doing better work together at Yellowship—and beyond.
About the Author
Kyle Lacy is vice president of marketing at Lessonly, the leader in team training software. As a former director of global content marketing and research at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Kyle led a team responsible for the strategy, production and activation of primary research, demand generation content and thought leadership in seven countries. He is the author of three books and he’s been named one of Indianapolis Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40.”