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Visual 1st 2020 – Our plans for going virtual

My partner Alexis Gerard and I cordially invite you to participate in our Visual 1st 2020 – Virtual Edition conference. For reasons you will easily understand, this year we won’t be able to hold the 8th edition of our annual conference at our beloved Golden Gate Club in the San Francisco Presidio.

While we, as well as our loyal attendees, will miss the opportunity to see old friends and industry colleagues in person, and to meet new ones, we also look forward to reimagining the conference in exciting new ways to accomplish the same – and more, and to bring some of these enhancements to our in-person conference in 2021.

Let me share the crux of our considerations: the importance of not skipping a year; the ability to offer new ways to discover and engage with (potential) partners in a virtual setting; the extra opportunities to feature prime content and speakers; the prospect of expanding our conference footprint; and an agenda that works for today’s virtual attendance attention span.

1. Why not skip a year, as so many other industry conferences and tradeshows have done?

We addressed this early on in April by announcing that we’d hold Visual 1st on October 14-15, whether as a physical or virtual gathering: “We strongly believe – now more than ever – that transformative changes brought to our industry, both by the global pandemic itself and by major impending technology innovations ranging from the rollout of 5G to mass deployment of depth sensors, require a safe environment for imaging industry executives and startups to connect, strategize and learn together.”

Add to that several discussion-worthy product, technology, or M&A announcements that have taken place since then (for instance RPI acquiring Blurb, just announced on Monday) or might occur prior to the conference, and you’ll agree that not holding our conference is not an option.

2. Foremost, how can a virtual edition of our conference enable attendees to discover potential partners and network with fellow attendees?

Our Visual 1st 2020 – Virtual Edition conference will not only have plenty of interactive opportunities during the sessions and breaks (private chats with fellow attendees, Q&A chat questions for speakers, live polls), but we’ve also partnered with Capsule to develop a solution for attendees to easily introduce themselves through a short video clip, tell why they’re attending, and share what types of partners they’re seeking to meet. This page with attendee videos will be password-protected and can only be accessed by fellow attendees. By signing up early, you will be able to use it to plan your networking ahead of time. It will also help all attendees to connect with potential partners of their choice before, during and after the conference. We expect to launch the pre-conference networking video page in the next few weeks – stay tuned!

In addition, we’ll have a poll during the conference gauging people’s interest in informally getting together with other attendees in several virtual roundtables a week after the conference. These grassroots roundtable video meetings won’t feature a program or speakers; they’re meetup-like meetings with industry colleagues with whom to exchange similar experiences or interests. For instance, we’ll have a Women in Imaging roundtable as a successor to last year’s successful in-person Women in Imaging gathering.

3. How can a virtual edition of our conference provide best-of-class content?

We’re excited that, in this format, we are able to recruit speakers for whom the travel required might have made participation impractical.  In other words: expect high quality speakers from anywhere in the world!

To give an idea, here are the first 4 speakers (many more to follow soon):

Fireside Chat:

Mok Oh, CTO, Mercari

Photo Albums Are Stupid. Moju Labs Is Building What Comes Next” was the headline on TechCrunch back in 2013. What caught our eye then were not only the innovative ideas for intelligent photo management behind this startup, but also the founder’s background. Mok Oh, earned a Ph.D. in Computer Graphics, Computer Vision and Design & Computation at MIT, was previously Chief Scientist at PayPal, and entrepreneur-in-residence at North Bridge Venture Partners.

We very much enjoyed having him share his vision for consumer photo engagement at our conference the next year. Well, Moju Labs came and went. Mok became Corporate VP at Samsung and later joined Mercari in 2018 as CTO.

Mercari is Japan’s first unicorn and offers a community-based shopping app for which – no surprise – user-generated photos are crucial. In this session we’ll hear how commerce apps like Mercari benefit from developing innovative solutions for the effective use of consumer images, plus tap into Mok’s broader perspectives on where consumer imaging could – or should – be heading.

Initial panelists:

In our panels and fireside chat sessions we plan to take a deep dive into the following topics:

Beyond auto-tagging – Making image recognition smart. Panelists will include Anthony Pieters from Viesus.

The Visual 1st Star Performer Alumni Check-in – How are our previously featured photo/video app developer trailblazers doing now? Panelists will include Ophir Abitbol from Lightricks.

Photo print product success stories – How early startups have become rising stars. Panelists will include Roger Bloxberg from PlanetArt.

Going deep – Leveraging the opportunities offered by image depth measurement sensors

As always, we’ll have 30 exciting live Show & Tell demo presentations by innovative photo and/or video solution developers, who will also vie for our four prestigious Visual 1st Awards, decided by an independent jury of industry luminaries.

4. How to expand the Visual 1st footprint and hold it a time of the day that’s best suited to attract our target audience?

In short, we plan to leverage the opportunities of a virtual event to attract additional first-time attendees (no travel needed, cheaper passes than at our physical events), which ultimately should also make the future (physical) editions of our conference bigger and better. But there was one tough choice to make: if you want to have a participatory virtual conference – not a sit-back-passively webinar that you vaguely keep an eye on while doing other stuff, nor one that can be viewed as a recorded webinar – the conference has to be held at a time of day that works for virtual attendees, who aren’t gathering at a single location in a single time zone. We’ve chosen times that work best for the US and Europe (mornings Pacific Time), reflecting the location of the overwhelming majority of our Visual 1st attendees to date.

5. How can a virtual edition of our conference keep people’s attention?

Adapting to the inherently more distraction-prone online viewing environment, we’ll have faster paced sessions than at our in-person conferences. We’ll also have shorter breaks (no worries, there will be additional networking opportunities, as described earlier) to keep the entire program to 3 hours and 15 minutes on both days (4 hours and 15 minutes with the addition of a break and a virtual mingling time before and after the program).’

We look forward to seeing you virtually on October 14 & 15!

Hans Hartman and Alexis Gerard

PS 1 Support us in our virtual endeavor this year and buy your Early Bird $99 ticket now! This way, you’ll also achieve top positioning on our pre-conference networking video page and will be able to start your networking ahead of time.

PS 2 Call for speakers: have an interesting perspective to share in one of our panels, or a photo or video app to demo in one of the Show & Tell session?  Let us know!



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