Conference Buddy

Ever visit an event on your own and tried to blend in with the wall, sweaty hands wrapped tightly around your cell phone, internal debating if you just should take a run for the door? Simultaneously hoping to meet new people and dreading someone could talk to you… Well, that’s me!

Let’s start at the beginning

Hi there! I’m Mirjam. I’m a self taught programmer, working as a Frontend Engineer since 2 years. I love to get to know other people in a similar field and learn from them – by hearing about their experience, talking about different approaches to problems and discussing about the best way to write tests.

The thing is: I’m an introvert type of person and I can be really socially awkward at times, so I’m stressed even thinking about talking to new people. Also, I don’t feel comfortable in unknown and new situations on my own. Happily I was always able to find friends to accompany me to user groups. Conferences were a different matter though. I struggled for quite some time with this problem before I realised: I couldn’t be the only one, right?

Conference Buddy

An idea was born! I wanted to create something to help solve my own problem. I wanted to be able to find a “Conference Buddy”. Someone who goes to a conference with me, is a moral support and lets me hide behind them for a bit if needed.

Against my first impulse, I tried not do plan anything further. Inspired by modern product development frameworks like Lean Startup or how Spotify builds products I wanted to take one step at a time.

I built a simple website where I described in a few words what problem Conference Buddy wanted to solve. I added a sign up for a mailing list, created a twitter account and shared my idea with the world. I wanted to see: Are there people like me where Conference Buddy could be of use? Is there a need beside my own?

And on May, 11th, I launched the website and tweeted about it.

Community Love

The feedback was quite overwhelming. It seemed to hit a nerve in the community. Amazingly, this mere idea evolved and within days. People began to send tweets, offering to be and looking for a Conference Buddy. The first successes were made simply over a few tweets.

Just like this, all ideas of next steps I already had thought of were obsolete. Luckily I hadn’t start building anything. There was no need to build a database of names, events and locations and match things artificial. The community was already taking care of that. For the start, Conference Buddy just needed to provide a place where people can find each other easily and get ideas which conferences to visit.

2018 was a crazy year

Conference Buddy started as an idea only 7 months ago and now people have met each other thanks to it. It’s an ongoing project supported by a growing amount of great people and I’m so curious to see where 2019 will take us!

The best thing is: It helps bringing great communities together to support each other while it’s language-agnostic. Front- or Backend? Doesn’t matter. It doesn’t care what framework you use. The communities that adopted Conference Buddy to be more inclusive are colorful and diverse. That’s what I love most about it!