TNW Conference 2017: Insights from day 2

Cameron Conaway -

May 19, 2017

The Chief Strategy Officer of Snapchat. The CEO of Trello. The founder of Product Hunt. The founder of HubSpot. The CXO of Pluralsight. The founder of AngelPad. This represents a small fraction of the all-star lineup for today, the second and final day, of TNW Conference 2017.

Today it truly hit me: What a privilege it is to be here and have access to their collective wisdom! Read on for the take-home points of today (and here are my thoughts from day 1 in case you missed it).

Like yesterday, the rave atmosphere at the Gashouder woke us up. Here's a glimpse into that scene:

tnw conference 2017 day 2

From there Boris, TNW's co-founder, took the stage and spoke briefly before introducing Pep Rosenfeld of Boom Chicago, who ran through the events of the day. Pep then introduced the keynote speaker, Imran Khan, Chief Strategy Officer at Snapchat.

tnw conference 2017 snapchat

The presentation, Storytelling in the Age of Snapchat, was more about Snapchat's new offerings and how to use the app than it was practical insights on storytelling. Khan showcased the number of Snapchat users, how often the average user comes into the app (18 times per day), and how advertisers are finding new ways to use the app.

While I could see some attendees perhaps being disappointed by this, I actually thought it was fascinating—here was the CSO of Snapchat hustling like an unknown startup.

Khan was, of course, speaking to an audience who knows Snapchat and the big numbers he cited quite well. So it seems, and perhaps this is due to the continued rise of Instagram and Facebook (and in particular their parallel, even copied features to Snapchat), Khan's primary theme was to show all of the startup leaders in the audience the various ways they could run ads on Snapchat.

From there I swung into the Exhibitor area, where I met the teams behind three Korean startups—Mopic, a snap-on phone case that turns your videos into 3D; Fitt, a fitness data platform that allows you to create science-based exercise programs; and enomad, the company that makes Estream, a portable waterpower generator small enough to fit in a backpack.

I also spent time with the super smart team at WordLift, a WordPress plugin that uses AI to help writers focus and create more SEO-rich content.

At this point I dove into the next presentation, The Heart of it All, by Nate Walkingshaw, Chief Experience Officer at Pluralsight.

Nate is the author of Product Leadership, and he offered great insight into the process for creating processes (I know, right?). It wasn't as dry as it sounds; he also spoke from the heart, sharing personal stories and the importance of empathy:

After Nate's talk was a truly all-star panel titled The Age of Acceleration: Navigating the Growing Startup Accelerator Landscape.

tnw conference 2017 startups

Moderator Bindi Karia (left above) did a fantastic job of tapping the collective wisdom from, left to right, Craig Cannon, Director of Marketing at Y-Combinator; Jennifer Cabala, the VP of Startup Programs at Techstars; and Thomas Korte, the founder of AngelPad.

I admired the honesty of the panelists, who repeatedly spoke about how accelerators are not for everybody, how they at once strip power from founders while empowering them to reach new heights. It was a nuanced conversation perfectly suited for most TNW Conference attendees.

This panel then transitioned into two intimate fireside chats. The first was The Economist's Leo Mirani interviewing Michael Pryor, the CEO of Trello.

tnw conference 2017 trello

Michael (left above), who I also watched speak at SaaStr Annual 2017, went into great detail (thanks to Leo's fantastic questioning) about how his team at Trello is maintaining its culture and growing in dynamic new ways thanks to its acquisition by Atlassian.

The second fireside chat was The Next Web's Abhimanyu Ghoshal (right below) interviewing Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt.

producthunt

Again, the quality of Ghosal's questions (and of course the brilliant responses from Ryan Hoover) made for a valuable session for all in attendance. Moving from the panel conversation to back-to-back fireside chats with recognized leaders meant that most TNW Conference attendees who attended one of these (self included) kept their seats and stuck around to see the others.

The second day of TNW Conference was truly a finale of high-quality content offerings, and it really pulled together the best of what I think an event of this size can offer: a beautiful blend of recognized industry leaders and scrappy startups from around the world, in a venue perfectly equipped to spark creativity and great conversations.

Bravo, TNW Conference organizers! Today you made it evident that a conference of this size can at once showcase immense networking opportunities while maintaining the intimacy and practicality of an event far smaller. I was skeptical, but you proved this skeptic wrong.

That's a wrap from TNW Conference 2017!