I'm in recovery mode from INBOUND 2016. It was amazing to be part of the event for the first time. I even had the opportunity to give a 2-minute pitch for Siftrock as finalist in the first ever startup pitch-off. We didn't win the gold medal (congrats BillShark!), but had a great time. Following our contest I was thinking about who won at INBOUND? I wanted to highlight 6 winners in my book - a few companies, people, or things that really stood out.
1. Think Board
GaryVee's keynote was the highlight for a lot of people, but I'm certain that the Think Board team had the best experience. During his stream of passionate f-bombs and wisdom drops, Gary invited four guys from the front row up on stage from Think Board (makers of cool alternative to traditional whiteboards). I caught up with Hanson Grant, Think Board CEO, and he confirmed that it was total unscripted. Gary had never met the guys before. So these four guys come up on the main stage with Gary and they are all wearing brightly branded green Think Board t-shirts standing side by side. How about that for free advertising?! The group proceeded to stand up on stage rocking the brand shirts and smiling ear to ear until Gary wrapped... meanwhile, 19k people googled "Think Board" on their smartphones.
Prior to the event I analyzed the session titles and expected that sales was in fact a huge part of the content and conversation at INBOUND. This was certainly confirmed on the ground. There was tons of great sales content - both helping marketers work better with sales and speaking directly to sales practitioners. My personal favorites were Keenan (@keenan) on how to give a kickass demo and Adam Von Reyn's (@adamvonreyn) ABM experience at InsightSquared.
3. Nice People
This might sound a little corny, but I've never been to an event with so many nice people. Every time I randomly introduced myself to a group of people I was blown away. I'm not sure if marketers are just nice or it's something specific about the inbound culture, but the level of niceness was pretty surprising and amazing. I found random conversations to be super fun because everyone there was so curious and interested in both learning from others and openly sharing their experiences.
There were a lot of booths and a lot of sponsors, but I thought that Moo really stood out above the crowd. Visually, their booth was well differentiated on the floor - one of the few using a bright colorful background. They had dozens of really cool samples laid out that people could see and touch and they weaved into the event with onsite services and offers that could be delivered immediately. I'm surprised I'm tooting horn because I'm generally not interested in printing at all, but Moo really nailed the branding and execution for INBOUND.
5. Elijah Clark-Ginsberg
I have no idea who Elijah Clark-Ginsberg is, but I'm pretty sure his emails were the most read content at INBOUND. I saw people scrolling through the emails on their phones countless times. His updates were always relevant, timely, and human. It was nice to see the Hubspot event marketing team practicing what they were preaching.
6. City of Boston
I'm from the west coast so my previous view of Boston was limited. Sure I'd visited, but I mostly just associated Boston with a couple Mark Wahlberg films, cold winters, and my dislike for the Patriots. The weather for INBOUND was gorgeous, the BCEC was a ridiculously nice venue for a large scale event, I took public transit and I didn't totally get lost, and there was a ton of stuff to do within walking distance. I almost got run over by a few cars while in the crosswalk and had to see a lot of Patriot attire, but those were outweighed by the good stuff. Overall I'm probably not alone in leaving INBOUND with an enhanced view on Boston compared to when I arrived.
Major shoutout to the HubSpot team for a great INBOUND 2016. See you next year!