Women In Technology session at the 2019 SQL Saturday in Los Angeles (#SQLSatLA)

2019 SQL Saturday in Los Angeles in one word – fantastic. It’s time to be proud of what we have achieved in just 2-3 years and say thank you to all those that helped us to get there!

Although I am biased, I think our 3rd annual event was our best event so far. It went smooth and polished like never before. Some amazing stats:

  • Max registrations with the final number missing 600 by 4 (more than 2017 and 2018, but not combined)
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  • Plenty of sponsors – 30+ sponsors (more than our greatest hits inaugural event in 2017)
  • Robust and extensive schedule with 50+ sessions (more than our session packed 2018 event) in: Power BI (a whooping 9 sessions), rock star’s Women In Technology session with 7 panelists, Azure (Cosmos DB, SQL Azure, Azure Data Bricks), AWS RDS/EC2 and AWS Aurora, Kubernetes, Hyper-V, vSphere, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, PostgreSQL, GCP (Google Cloud Platform), session for Big Data and session against it, few introductory sessions for SQL beginners, sessions on Python/R/Data Science/Machine Learning, many sessions on SQL Server core services for DBAs/DevOps/DB Devs, sessions on SSIS/SSRS/SSAS, sessions on Master Data Management (“MDM”), Data Warehouse (“DW”) and Business Intelligence (“BI), SQL on Linux, Encryption and Dimensional Modeling, and last but not least a Job Seeker session
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  • Successful pre-conference event with over 20 paid attendees (huge thank you goes to Ted Stathakis and John Wells)
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We’ve approached event marketing very aggressively:

  1. Utilized $10 credit from Facebook and $50 credit from LinkedIn to get the word out
  2. Created our first ever event flyer to help potential sponsors and attendees to visualize the event from just one page (huge thank you goes to Nasser Mansour and Elaena Bakman)
  3. Reached out to virtually all IT community groups and events in California to co-market our event: LA Data Platform (previously known as SQL Malibu), LA SQL SQL Server User GroupOC Power BI User GroupOC Business Intelligence GroupSan Diego SQL Server User GroupSan Diego Business Intelligence GroupSacramento SQL Server User GroupLA SharePoint User GroupLA .NET User GroupData Con LA (“Big Data Day in LA”), Google Cloud Platform UGs, Loyola Marymount University students board, various local Meetups, BrentOzar.comLooker and Snowflake conferences, CloudBees JenkinsRed Gate Summit in LA, SolidQ Power BI classes, General AssemblySQL Saturday in Orange County/San Diego/Sacramento, and many others
  4. Flooded virtually all the social media channels (TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Facebook Groups, InstagramPinterest, and Reddit) with #SQLSatLA unique content, such as registrations stats, funny memes (using https://imgflip.com), images, etc… using corresponding web sites as well as scheduling engines such as postfity.com and tweetdeck.twitter.com
  5. Solicited videos from previous and upcoming speakers (huge thank you goes to Ben OastlerDiane SchusterJay FalckKalen DelaneyMarco RussoSteve Jones) to spice up an interest, created our fun #SQLServerMagic video parody on the Daft Punk Technologic music hit (huge thank you goes to Homer McEwen) as well as “to attend or not attend” promotional video using RenderForest.com for our SQLSatLA YouTube Channel.
  6. Submitted our event to different local event boards like builtinla.comcbslocal.com, etc…
  7. Created our event page on both Eventbrite and Facebook platforms

We successfully introduced changes to our event:

  1. Registered our own 501.c.3 non-profit – Data Driven Technologies, Inc and web site – https://www.datadriventechnologies.org (huge thank you goes to Nathaniel Pauymo and Elaena Bakman). For both 2017 and 2018 events, we were using a pass-through non-profit that managed by SQL Saturday in San Diego Team (huge thank you goes to Phil Robinson and Dan Denney).
  2. We opened a non-profit bank account (read: business account free of any fees) at the Union Bank and linked it to a non-profit friendly PayPal account to receive a discounted transaction rate of 2.2%+.30 (huge thank you goes to Elaena Bakman)
  3. Diversified our pool of sponsors by catering to any budget and going from strictly tech-based companies to virtually any type of business that need an exposure in front of 300+ people
  4. Provided detailed description for all event volunteering tasks (huge thank you goes to Nathaniel Payumo)
  5. Generated and printed our own event QR code along with development of a custom Android app to test SpeedPASS replacement (huge thank you goes to Elaena Bakman and Iliya Gogolev)
  6. Invested into 10 yard signs with 2 feather flags (huge thank you goes to Arnie RowlandNasser Mansour and Elaena Bakman) by borrowing the idea from SQL Saturday in Oregon
  7. Acquired great looking table skirts to make stunning sponsor tables (huge thank you goes to Elaena Bakman)
  8. Scaled up our check-in booth into a 4 directional reception area (4 tables with one tent) with custom pre-printed 6×4 name badges with QR code (huge thank you goes to Elaena Bakman), last name initial signs, speaker/sponsor/volunteer ribbons to deliver the warmest reception (huge thank you goes to Anna DvorskyEric Dycus, and Rebecca Renko Dycus) by borrowing the idea from SQL Saturday in Oregon and 2018 PASS Summit
  9. Offered a Microsoft and AWS Data Clinics by providing both sponsors with an extra table to provide an extra help to existing customers by borrowing the idea from 2018 PASS Summit (unfortunately, one of the sponsors couldn’t make it to the event)
  10. Replaced 350 printed program guide copies with 5 large format schedules (huge thank you goes to Bob Pusateri and Nasser Mansour) by borrowing the idea from SQL Saturday in Chicago and SQL Saturday in Oregon
  11. Added a social/daft punk photo booth with 2 Daft Punk helmets (Guy Manuel and Thomas Bangalter) social/twitter handle signs to add the fun factor to our event (huge thank you goes to Cecilia BrusatoriAnna DvorskyMaria Lopez and Miguel Niblock) by borrowing the idea from SQL Saturday in South Florida
  12. Recorded some sessions on a budget (huge thank you goes to Shawn Weisfeld, and Thomas Mueller) using a combination of ZoomGoPro camera, and a wireless clip-on microphone) by borrowing the idea from Usergroup.tv
  13. Created “this room is sponsored by…” signs with company logos to emphasize the sponsor of the room (huge thank you goes to Anna Dvorsky and Ben Bolte)
  14. Pushed lunch serving tables to be at the center of the sponsor’s area
  15. Provided round tables for attendees to sit comfortably while networking and having breakfast and/or lunch (huge thank you goes to Melinda Le)
  16. Tried to recycle the name badges
  17. Setup a WhatsApp group for #SQLSatLA event organizers
  18. Researched food and tent rental options ahead of time (huge thank you goes Miguel Ramirez)
  19. Shipped everything to one single place to minimize a chance of leaving anything behind on the big day. This made the very early Saturday morning pickup much more difficult, but it was totally worth it (huge thank you goes to Elaena Bakman and Miguel Ramirez)
  20. Manned sponsor table and delivered a session on behalf of CozyRoc (huge thank you goes to Ben Bolte and Diane Shuster)
  21. Took plenty of pictures for our Instagram account (huge thank you goes to Nathaniel Payumo and Anna Dvorsky)
  22. Utilized Trello to keep track on everything for the event

Ideas that we could not deliver:

  1. Have a Speaker Idol competition by borrowing that idea from the 2018 PASS Summit
  2. Locate a business partner to provide STEM classes to attendee kids by borrowing that idea from the SQL Saturday organizers meeting at the 2018 PASS Summit
  3. Have a content czar to improve session name and abstract
  4. Record all the event sessions
  5. Offer live stream video using Facebook and/or LinkedIn Live
  6. Record the both start and end of the event using a flying drone

Despite many things working flawlessly from the get go, we had some little hiccups here and there:

  • not enough event yard signs
  • change food vendor on a very short notice
  • breakfast coffee arrived later than pastries
  • ran short on lunch food (huge thank you goes to Eugenia Kaplun for fixing that)
  • change event schedule on a very short notice
  • other minor stuff

All in all, an event that we all can be really proud of. Thank you and see you at the 2020 SQL Saturday in Los Angeles some time in June.