HostCamp 1.0 Retrospective

HostCamp 1.0 Retrospective

At the moment of writing this, we were one month apart from the first edition of HostCamp, the only unconference to gather developers and decision-makers willing to support our mission of advancing WordPress infrastructures. We’ve taken some time apart to truly crystallize what HostCamp 1.0 had delivered and ways to improve it, and, hopefully, to nourish an upcoming community around the event.

Before going into details, we’d like to first express our appreciation for the facilitators that elevated HostCamp 1.0 from a simple event to a genuine unconference experience:

  • Kevin Ohashi
  • Jenny Wong
  • Tony Perez
  • Călin Don
  • Jonathan Wold
  • Mike Schroder
  • Chris Lema
  • Miriam Schwab
  • Akshat Choudhary.

This is the first article from a series dedicated to reflecting the overall experience of HostCamp 1.0, so keep an eye on our blog for all the updates. In the following lines, you can find details about HostCamp’s financial aspects and the audience, closely followed by an article dedicated to a surprisingly successful session of Lightning Talks, a summary of the notes for each track, the feedback we’ve received from the participants and the facilitators and event pictures.

A little bit of history

The starting point of HostCamp dates back to late 2018 when we first started discussing organizing an event to gather WordPress hosting service providers, rather brainstorming on how Berlin might be an accessible and attractive meeting point to talk business and technology. The second major aspect of HostCamp we’ve agreed on was the event name—Mile had come up with the idea and we were all in. A few days later, we had registered https://hostcamp.org/ and started thinking about who should join this event and what kind of value we could possibly provide for them.

It was early 2019 when Jonathan joined the team, encouraging us to nail it down together, starting the discussion with a simple Impact Filter. Fast-forward a couple of weeks and we already had a shortlist of potential facilitators, tracks topics, and guests. The event production team could finally start working on branding, communication, logistics and more.

The Event Budget

For those of you who don’t know, HostCamp is a non-profit event, which implies that all the fundraising and ticket sales resources are invested in HostCamp. For the first edition, we have estimated our costs partly based on experience, as we have asked for pricing plans and offers, partly based on assumptions; we have also planned to secure a transportation and accommodation budget for the facilitators which haven’t already booked them in advance for this year’s edition of WordCamp Europe they were joining the next day after HostCamp. A buffer for unexpected costs has also been planned, summing a €20,000 total estimated budget.

However, our fundraising efforts didn’t succeed; we have contacted a dozen of the most reputed hosting companies we know and most of them pointed the tardiness of our request. Nonetheless, their response determined us to reconsider most of our event needs. Luckily, all of our facilitators agreed on joining our event entirely for free. Having received all the support from the attendees has also been a humbling piece of evidence that HostCamp was truly needed.

In the absence of any other solution, all the other costs—graphic design, development, communication, project management, team transportation, and accommodation have been fully funded by Presslabs. Further, rather priceless support has been provided by Jonathan and Mile, co-organizers and 100% volunteers in this project.

HostCamp 1.0—the people

Right from the start, we knew we wanted a small-sized, informal, participant-driven event where we could collectively shape the way to advance the WordPress infrastructure. 

Limiting the access to 40 seats was a good decision, as both the venue and the event format were put at use at full capacity.

It’s been extremely challenging to pin down the professional background and experience of the people who could bring valuable input into the discussion; there’s a myriad of people that have highly relevant insights into the rooted history and possible future of WordPress as we know it. We’ve had our fair share of contacts to start with; additionally, we’ve asked both our facilitators and attendees to help us identify, and personally contact and invite participants. 

Surprisingly, 15 participants have applied on our website to participate at HostCamp 1.0, out of which 12 have been accepted, and we were really happy to have them.

Instead of conclusions

Was HostCamp 1.0 a success? Yes. 

Could it have been a greater one? Totally. 

Are we going to make it better? Definitely.

Do you want to help us do that? Just drop us a line at ideas@hostcamp.org.