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May 17, 2009

Announcing BizConf

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BizConf is a one-of-a-kind, exclusive event that I am hosting about 3 months from now at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island Resort in northern Florida. It's a 2-day conference specifically crafted for independent consultants and owners/managers of small to mid-sized web consultancies.

Conference Website: http://bizconf.org

Summary

The conference program is on Thursday and Friday (Aug 20-21, 2009) and the Ritz-Carlton is offering steep discounts on their room rates for up to 3 days before and after the conference. This is a perfect opportunity to turn a "business" trip into a vacation (or golf) getaway with friends and family. I selected the venue particularly because of the luxurious rooms, restaurants and spa, and its location on some of Florida's finest white-powder beachfront and warm, sparkling blue ocean. Amelia Island is conveniently about 30 minutes drive east of Jacksonville airport (JAX) and local transportation can be arranged through the conference.

208650669_c73da06f27_m Check out some more photos of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island by Josh Hallett. It is a beautiful and luxurious hotel and we're making the most of it. All meals are included in your conference registration, from special catered breakfasts in SALT Restaurant to the Friday night private dinner and pool party at the Spa. 

Registration is limited to 75 people in order to keep the event intimate and maximize interaction between our presenters and attendees. We have over 20 compelling presenters confirmed so far, with additional announcements happening soon. The program is divided into plenary sessions for everyone in the main room and three breakout session tracks in small conference rooms. Some have questioned the decision to do 4 tracks for such a small conference. The answer is that we will be covering a wide variety of topics, from marketing, to team building, to legal/finance issues, to product development and client services. Attendees will be able to select a mix of topics that suits their exact needs and receive personal attention from the presenters, while still having ample opportunities for networking and creating new friendships in our industry niche.

Presenters
The following list only skims the surface of who you can expect to meet and learn from at BizConf:

Jerry Weinberg is one of my heroes. He has over 30 years of consulting experience and has written many notable books including "The Secrets of Consulting" and "The Psychology of Computer Programming". He will be presenting small group experiential sessions including "Learning to Say No" and "Great Client Expectations".

Roy Singham, my friend and mentor, will be keynoting and spending one-on-one time with attendees. Roy famously grew his tiny Chicago-based consultancy into world-class software consulting powerhouse ThoughtWorks, admirably working to make positive change in the world every step of the way. Martin Fowler has written about Roy on his blog.


Esther Derby and Johanna Rothman are esteemed trainers and co-authors of the Pragmatic's Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management among other titles. They will be very busy at BizConf with sessions topics including:

    • Recruiting and Keeping Talent Happy
    • Leveraging Personal Sources of Power
    • Levers for Change
    • Interviewing Customers

Don Gray coaches software development organizations to higher levels of productivity. His background in machine and process automation provides the foundation for working with organizational systems and change. His workshops at BizConf will focus on personality types and teamwork, team productivity, and retrospectives.

Ian McFarland, Principal at the esteemed San Francisco-based consultancy Pivotal Labs will present a new model for selling a potent mix of Agile, Ruby on Rails and cloud-computing to CIOs and CTOs in the enterprise world. Ian was a special guest on the Rails Podcast last year.

Corey Haines is one of the warmest, most genuine voices of the Software Craftmanship movement. He is rapidly gaining friends and notoriety from his travel around the world as the wandering journeyman software craftman, sharing programming language with technology professionals in exchange for room and board.

James Duncan Davidson will provide attendees that bring their own DSLRs with a unique opportunity to learn photography from a master of the craft. Learn how to maximize your marketing with candid shots of your people in action.

Jessie Shternshus is founder and owner of The Improv Effect and has worked with companies such as CBS, Paramount Pictures, MTV and Sesame Workshop. Jessie merges her lifelong passion and expertise of improvisational acting with the fast paced demands of the corporate world. In her classes and workshops she helps people become better listeners, team players, leaders and communicators. Her physically engaging and playful workshops are relevant to all facets of life and are sure to be a fun highlight for BizConf participants.


The complete list of speakers is here, although I expect to add a few more to it in the coming weeks. This conference is very personal to me -- I am handcrafting the program to maximize the interest to other people like myself: entrepreneurs in the web development space, particularly my peers running successful Rails consultancy shops.

Price
If you register before July 17th you can take advantage of the early-bird pricing of $1995. After that, the price goes up to $2495. Yes, I know very well that the cost is out of reach of some of you reading this. However, it's an upscale and exclusive event on purpose and I decided on that price based on market research. Also, running a conference like BizConf is quite expensive and entails a great deal of financial risk for the organizers. The venue and food is very expensive, as well as travel expenses for all of the speakers.

Sponsors
I want to take a moment to thank my partners at Hashrocket, as well as our other sponsors: nGen Works and Engine Yard for helping to make this dream a reality.

If you work for a product firm that provides services to small to mid-sized service providers, then BizConf is the perfect opportunity for you to get to know the most successful influencers in this business. Check out our sponsor prospectus for more information.

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