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Last December, I was in a rut.
I own a creative firm called Wildfire Studios, and I was pretty sure it was going under. Not because I was out of money, but because I was out of clients.
I had a half-decent roster of clients that I enjoyed working with. They liked me. They were all international and under one conglomerate client. The problem was, the conglomerate decided to shut down all my clients on January 1st, 2014.
I knew I shouldn’t have had all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, but I couldn’t escape that rut either. I knew I needed local clients, but I also knew that local clients are a chicken and egg problem: unless you have one, you’ll always need one. Firms with international clients often smell like scams — even if you’re running a perfectly legitimate business, there aren’t many ways for professional clients to verify that claim.
In our world, it’s not about what you can do, but iwho you know. In that sense, DemoCampGuelph is a godsend.
I attended DemoCampGuelph 22 in October, and walked away having met a ton of cool people from a bunch of amazing startups. What struck me the most about the event is its lack of pretence and pretension: everybody was there to learn from each other and get to know one another. We all wanted to broaden our support system.
I followed one woman I met that night on Twitter. She had her own development company, and she worked on mobile apps. When she retweeted a tweet about one local firm looking for an outside designer to do some app prep work, I quickly sent off an email.
I really needed anything to get by, and this gig was perfect for the short time period. It was enough for me to get through January. The design work was really some short-term marketing work for a multinational corporation called ProMinent Fluid Controls Ltd, which in itself was an amazing opportunity. The Canadian division of the company has an office located in Guelph, which means my local client roster can develop.
One opportunity leads to another, though, and ProMinent started hinting that they were looking for some long-term marketing help. They didn’t want full-time, but they wanted client services they could depend on to produce results. I went through about a month of getting to know the people and prepare my work, and I got a contract to handle their advertising. We’re putting together the first of this year’s six product campaigns this month.
Thanks to DemoCampGuelph, my firm is more than just a creative firm. Wildfire Studios isn’t just about graphic design, photography, or creative copywriting. I’m now handling the advertising for the Canadian division of a multinational. To me, this is the new start that I desperately needed.
Thanks to DemoCampGuelph, not only do I still have a job and a business to call my own, but I have one of the best jobs in the world. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
DemoCampGuelph 24 will be held on May 28th, please register if you’re joining us.
Tonight is DemoCampGuelph! Please register and join us tonight at 6:30pm at The EBar in downtown Guelph. You do NOT have to demo to attend. You can show up, quietly have a pint and see some folks demo some interesting tech projects. Or if you’re feeling friendly, you can get all real world social and meet some other folks working in, and around tech here in Guelph.
What you can expect tonight starting at 6:30pm
- We have a short talk from our invited speaker Brett Shellhammer. Brett’s going to finally explain to us(me) how to ask for money! Brett’s a founder in Hyperdrive alumni Organimi and his new project The Quiet Coach. He’s formerly held Entrepreneur In Residence roles at Communitech and U of W’s Velocity program.
- Demo’s!! We’ll run through about six. This is open stage for technologists, a chance to share some cool tech or something you’re working on.
- Award The Crowie for demo of the night.
- Stick around for another pint and catch a new local band Atlas.
There will be snacks and drinks and it’s a very social event so please plan to stop by tonight.
Our 23rd instance of DemoCampGuelph is coming up on Feb 19th. The rumour is that folks who won demo of the night at our last event are now down south in YCombinator, however, The Crowie award was retrieved before they left town.
As always, we need your help to make this event awesome! Please spread the word anyway you can so attendees can get registered. As well, we need demo submissions!
What can you demo?
- Ideally something technical, software, hardware etc.
- Ideally something you’ve had a hand in creating, however, it may just be something awesome they crowd needs to know about.
- It does NOT have to be a startup with a business model. It is DEMOcamp not startupCamp.
- Most important, it’s something the crowd is dying to see demo’d!
PS..On April 10th, we’re chartering our own VIA trains and filling them with folks travelling to this year’s PyCon in Montreal. Early bird tickets go on sale to the public tomorrow but here’s a super secret link to make sure you get your tickets.
I love going to DemoCamp, it is one of my favourite recurring events in Guelph and one of my two favourite tech events locally. I am a big supporter of the technology industry in Guelph even though I’m only in the soft side of technology as a content creator. Guelph has such a unique culture around it, combining science with arts in almost everything it does, as witnessed with the marriage of DemoCamp and live music right after. Because of the strong artistic influence everywhere in Guelph I think our technology field is infinitely more creative and innovative than many other cities.
DemoCamp is an interesting event where the smart minds behind technological solutions get to stand in front of a crowd and see if it is viable, a crowd that is uniquely sympathetic yet incredibly unrelenting. It’s a great way to meet new people and find some interesting tools that maybe need a helping hand to get out of beta.
But here’s the problem with DemoCamp as I see it, and as many people I’ve spoken with see it; for every 10 or 15 men in the audience there is only 1 woman. This does not bode well for anyone. Especially not for the people demoing their product since the reality is there might be more than 10 women using their product. Wouldn’t it be great to know if your idea works with both genders? Wouldn’t it be great to meet people who can help you push your idea further and introduce you to the people you need to know? Isn’t it likely that if half of the population isn’t represented that means all of these innovative people with great ideas are missing out on meeting half of the people they need to be successful.
Sorry, I misspoke. The problem isn’t with DemoCamp, it’s with women choosing not to come out. So how do we get more women in the audience at DemoCamp? And how do we get more women on stage demoing their products?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I hope that by being more visible at DemoCamp, by acting as a judge, that the rest of the audience will see me and encourage more women to come out, to let their friends and co-workers know that DemoCamp IS a place where women hang out.
And I’m not alone. I’ve got 3 other women with me who are stepping up to be more visible.
Christina Moulton, iPhone app developer and principal with Teak Mobile Inc, Valerie Lalonde, community manager with Innosphere SDG Ltd, and Dawn Smith, digital marketing specialist with Desire2Learn
In their words –
Christina – https://twitter.com/ChristinaMltn
I go to DemoCamp because it’s always interesting to see what different people have been working on, whether they’re startups looking for feedback on early products or just really neat hobby projects. It’s always a friendly crowd enthusiastic to chat about tech. I always seem to meet someone who’s working in tech but in a way I’d never have thought of, like making music & sound effects for video games. I’ve done a demo and found it a welcoming space with relevant, practical feedback and lots of great follow up conversations.
Tech has been an opportunity for me to carve out a career that fits what I want from my life. While I’m always happy to see anyone demo, it’s especially nice to see women in an area that offers opportunities for having more control over their time. Plus it’s so rewarding to actually build and show off your projects. I don’t think women get a lot of chances to build things and get acknowledged for it.
Valerie – https://twitter.com/Valerie_Lalonde
I believe it’s important that women find their passion whether it is in a female dominate work setting like fashion, office administration or early childhood education, or if it’s on the opposite side of the spectrum in a male dominated industry like construction, technology or science. It’s important that expectations and stereotypes in society don’t mold young women into a role and/or deter them from finding that special talent that will drive them into success.
Once they’ve found their passion they shouldn’t be afraid of crashing the old boys club; the group will be so happy to have you there! Embrace what you know, soak up what you don’t & impress all of the other attendees with your knowledge. It’s important that women attend these events to advance their career. Events like Democamp allow you to meet alike individuals, learn related skills and get feedback or tips from experts in the field. Networking is the key! Don’t let the guys continue to get ahead, break your way into the groups and you’ll be happy you did; especially when it becomes time to look for a job or find a partner for a project you’re working on. The tech community in a city like Guelph is small, so become a part of it and start making those connections!
Dawn – https://twitter.com/saffyre9
Why do I go? Initially I went for networking with like-minded people. Now, I like going to support the community, support local start-ups, and of course more networking 🙂
Why is it important for women to be there? Honestly, it’s not about quotas or percentages or minimum representation. To me, if you want to be in the tech space, and are serious about tech, then you need to be at the events that are relevant, regardless of your gender.
And I say this having once been the only female in attendance at a Democamp Guelph 🙂
Come on ladies! There’s nobody at the door saying you aren’t allowed in, so come out to DemoCamp tonight and have a great night with us!
I’m massively biased this Wednesday’s DemoCampGuelph is not to be missed so register to attend now! Not only will we get to catch awesome demo’s from local tech folks, have a few pints with the local tech scene and hear some startup stories from my boy Mike Kirkup……
After that’s all said and done…we get to catch some local live music from Guelph’s best kept secret Jessy Bell Smith. Yes it’s true, Guelph isn’t all tech and startups, we have some music here as well. Don’t believe me about best kept secret? Just watch Jessy knock The Skydiggers Ramblin’ On out in this CBC Music session.
I’m very excited to announce that our invited speaker for DemoCampGuelph22 on October 30th is Mike Kirkup. Mike has a previous life running efforts like developer relations at a small shop named BlackBerry. He’s now dove headfirst into the startup world with his current role as Director of VeloCity at University of Waterloo.
There’s a truckload of topics I’d like to hear Mike speak about. We’ll work on whittling that down to one. Once we narrow it down, I’ll announce the topic as well.
Don’t be shy about spreading the word about our event….
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It’s been a while but our 22nd version of DemoCampGuelph will be on October 30th. Hopefully I won’t be pelted with rotten eggs! Please make sure to register if you can attend.
If you’d like a demo spot, please apply now. I do NOT decide who gets to demo so bribing me won’t help but you never know! Submit to demo here.
DemoBeerGuelph, that’s what!
For those coming to DemoCampGuelph, we have room for forty of you to come down to OX a bit early and hang out with a master brewer. $10 to demo some beer, charcuterie, and pizza but most importantly a chance to hear some war stories from a master brewer. Space is limited for this so buy your ticket asap!
It’s a 5:30 start wrapping up at 6:30 to allow you to walk up the stairs for the start of the main event.