I don't want to sound too bombastic, or take more credit than is due. But I'm proud of what our team at Acquia did to help make Boston 2008 Drupalcon a fantastic event.
There's a bunch of things I think we did right:
- Proposal to the Drupal Association. Kieran, an (terrific but no-longer-at-Acquia) admin and I spent a solid month researching venues, estimating costs, planning, and coming up with a well articulated proposal for the event. Having thought about it all in advance helped both us, and the Association, a bunch.
- Finding the right venue. While we originally were proposing working with a hotel that could have resulted in a $0 venue cost, the original hotel venue had a downside risk exposure of several hundred thousand dollars. We were able to negotiate (though not without lots of high-stakes moments) a deal with Questex Media to co-locate Drupalcon with the AIIM Expo, which gave us a fantastic locale that also permitted us to handle what turned out to be an blow-out attendance count.
- Executing on the logistics. I'm not sure anybody really has a clue about how much detailed work it took to pull off a conference for 1,000 Drupalers. Everything from A/V to wireless network to printing guides to herding (volunteer) kittens ... consumed hundreds and hundreds of man-hours from the Acquia team.
- Finding a fantastic event coordinator. Sooz was simply fantastic. She knew how to "speak geek," and not turn the conference into too-much corporate polish. Yup, I'll fully give her credit for doing a huge amount of the actual work, but she did it all in lock step with the Acquia team.
- Running with a "real" budget. We crafted an all-conference budget, picked a conference price, a sponsorship revenue target, and ran the event with constant attention to actual-vs-plan budget. Compared to previous events, where there was more of a "Well, we need another $2,000, where can we find a $2,000 sponsor to pay for the cost?", this was a big milestone. And the budget wasn't small - we'll have spent over $200,000 to produce this event.
- Doing the "Big Give." In December, we told Kieran that his job was changing temporarily. Instead of his "real" job, he was simply going to work full-time on Drupalcon. We literally invested three man-months in this conference based on Kieran's time alone. I don't want to overly-crow, but this is a pretty big contribution - not just because of the value of his time, but because of the opportunity cost to Acquia; what else could he have accomplished for our own corporate agenda in that time? We don't know, but don't care. Making Drupalcon be great was important to Drupal's growth, and Drupal's growth is crucial to Acquia's strategic future.
But just as a proud father is when his children do something great, I'm proud of the Acquia team, and what we did to help make Drupalcon Boston 2008 the "Best Drupalcahn Evah!"