Canada 3.0 Recap

Yesterday marked the 2nd and last day of the Canada 3.0 Digital Media Conference, and although it was an energetic and exciting event, there were definitely some areas for improvement.

So what happened at the conference?
For those that didn’t attend the conference, here is Jesse Rodgers’s recap of the event, and here is my review of Day 1. As well, there is the Community Website by Igloo where you can access the slides and some videos of the presentations, and there’s the twitter feed of course (careful, there are > 1500 tweets from the conference). There is also a gallery of photos (my favourite). In short, although Day 1 was filled with speakers and presentations, Day 2 included a bit of a workshop element to it, that was more engaging and satisfying.

What was great about the event?
Hands-down, the calibre of attendees and the production-quality were both surprsingly high. It was good to see Premier McGuinty come out, and it was good to see Minister Wilkinson participating, but these high-profile people were augmented by a large cadre of incredibly capably and dynamic people from public, private and educational sectors. As well, the team running the conference did a great job of responding to changes (like when the coffee ran out, or getting the Twitter feed up on the walls, or resolving the WiFi issues).

What sucked about the event?
To be frank – I was dissapointed with the sheer volume of talking as opposed to conversing that took place at the conference. To me, a conference should be either helping me Sell (i.e. connect, network, etc), help me Learn (i.e. educate, practice, inform) or help me Create (i.e. debates, workshops, plenary, etc). I was under the impression that this was to be a Create conference but it really felt like it was run as a blending of Sell and Learn, which was unfortunate. I think some good ideas were shared, and some fantastic suggestions passed on to the right people, but I would have liked to see more. I suspect they’ll address this in next year’s conference though. As Jesse Rodgers also suggested, more of a camp-style event in parallel (or before/after) would have ben useful.

Secondly, the panel at the end of the conference was interesting, but they didn’t challenge the speakers at all either – it would have been a great tweak, if they had solicited questions during Day 1 and the morning of Day 2, selected some attendee-generated questions, and used them in the panel (of course providing them to the speakers in advance). That would have engaged the audience more,and allowed the attendees to help form the structure/direction/strategy a bit more. Oh yes – and I have some critical comments about one panelist in particular.

I was also rather disapointed with the web presence of the website. From issues with registration (they needed fax registrations, and the online credit card payments were unreliable) to ambiguity between the UW-hosted site and the igloo-ste, I was overall dissapointed with the conference’s web strategy. Given the nature of the conference, I was really expecting something a little more a) sophisticated and b) exciting.

What did I get out of the conference?
I was really hoping to get some new ideas out of this conference, so I was thrilled by the conversations in the research & commercialization room – here are some quick ideas that came out of it:

How do we make entrepreneurship more interesting/culturally accepted?
The core concept out of this was that we needed to start marketing entrepreneurship to younger people. Some practical suggestions were:
– teach sales in school
– more funding for JA & DECA
– Governor General style award for high school entrepreneurs
– more “Canadian History” style shorts on TV
– Brag more (even if it’s baseless) within and outside Canada

How do we make startup capital easier to get?
The core concept in this, was that the existing programs (SR&ED, IRAP, etc.) are great, but how do we increase other funding sources? Some out-of-the-box ideas were:
– Allow people to withdraw from their RRSPs to invest in startups tax-free
– Provide an RESP-like top-up for startup investments
– Forgive student loans of graduating entrepreneurs

So, yes, I’m a crabby negative person that has some strong recommendations for improvement, but over all it was still a thumbs-up-enjoyable-worth-the-money event.

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