So it was gonna be our first Laracon (Laravel’s largest conference) and, holy smokes, we were excited about it. We didn’t want to just go, listen to the talks, do some networking & chill. We wanted something more...
Defying the laws of success
The thing is we realized we wanted to make something different only one week before the event -yeah I know, that's not ideal-. We wanted to get to know the attendants and help them network between them through what we are best at: technology. But we didn't had much time. We knew that doing something significant requires time, planning, prototyping, early validation and feedback from potential users; this is, in fact, what we always insist in with to our clients. So we were conscious about our odds. Thats why we came up with a fun idea that was easy, fast to develop and didn't require much money investment. Since it only needed a few hours of development, and had no financial or brand-image risks (because we weren't going to do this in the name of Light-it. It was totally anonymous), we gave it a shot. As expected, we failed... But it was totally worth it. Keep on reading and find out why.
The app we came up with
Before the Event
We started brainstorming different options to provide value to attendees.
“We should… ”.
“We should… ”.
“We should help people network with attendees they are interested in”.
We noticed that networking is always the most difficult part of conferences for tech people. There are always people alone during breaks with a face of:
“I want to connect but I don’t want to start the conversation. Please come.”
You may recognize that kind of face in the image below:
So we definitely wanted to help these people connect, generate new opportunities and find people who matched their profile and target.
Our aim with the experience was to:
- Create something innovative for the event.
- Get to know Laracon's community.
- Get people’s attention.
- Give people value.
- Generate new leads.
- Have fun.
After several meetings and discussions we ended up building the following flow:
1- We printed QR's in cards and spread them around Laracon's tables.
2- People scanned them and where taken to the welcome page, where the intention of the QR was revealed: helping attendants connect with other relevant people at the event. To do so, they where asked to login with Linkedin.
3- And now some questions. Where do you live?
4- The company you work for.
5- Your role in the company.
6- Your interests.
7- At this point, people would finally get to a feed with people they matched. Here, they had the possibility to contact this relevant people and meet.
What we expected
We were quite excited about people connecting via QR. We, tech people, are known for being better socializing through technology. But... till what point is that true?
To be honest, we didn’t get the results we expected. This was probably because, as we said, we didn't plan the product with enough time and didn't carry out a prototype to validate the idea with potential users. We based our product in how we thought people would react, but with no further investigation. Let’s reveal the real numbers.
Amount of people who:
- Scanned the QR code: 104
- Logged in with Linkedin: 53
- Completed the process: 34
- Emailed other attendees: 12
- Meetings carried out: unknown
Lessons & Conclusions
During Laracon, keeping an eye in the numbers, we realized things weren't working out as we expected. That's why, the last day of the event, we walked around asking people about their experience with the QR. After Laracon was finished, with the results and feedback on the table, we sat down to evaluate the experience. Why did it fail? What can we improve?
In the first place, the QR card was not as visible and striking as it should have been. It was small, black, sober, so it didn’t really call people’s attention.
It also didn’t have any text, which we thought was a good idea to generate intrigue. However, it would’ve been better to put attractive sentences to seduce people, calling their attention towards an experience:
“Please scan me”
“Don’t be shy”
“I know you can’t resist”
But… what was the main problem? After talking about the experience with different people in the event, we found out that most of them DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO SCAN QR CODES!! We definitely didn’t saw THAT coming. Tech conference, tech people… how come they don’t know how to scan QR codes? — That’s too much.
Lastly, privacy, privacy, and privacy. People don’t like to provide details about themselves. That’s why some of them scanned the code but didn’t proceed with the registration.
This was also a consequence of including LinkedIn as the only way of signing up, not everyone had an account. Maybe including Github would have been a better idea on a tech conference.
We learn from mistakes
This is a proof of how important it is to investigate, plan, validate and get early feedback from potential users. We took for granted some things, such as the ability to scan a QR code or the intrigue the card would generate. But taking things for granted isn't the path to take when you are investing money and time.
The QR experience actually worked quite good as a proof of concept. With this experience, we where able to recognize how our target acts towards a QR. We found insights that could make this experience much more effective.
We're used to clients coming and asking us to create a final version of a software in six months, with no prototypes and early validation. This is why we decided to write this post, to explain to our clients, potential clients and entrepreneurs the importance of early validation and illustrate this with our own experience. Sometimes, what is an amazing idea in our head doesn't work that good in our target's mind. Or maybe it does, but we need to make sure, plus, with an early feedback, we can find out better ways to dialogue with them.
So for next Laracon…
We really enjoyed our time at Laracon, learnt a lot and made amazing friends and colleagues. It’s beyond any doubt that we’re coming back, and taking with us back home everything we learnt… mainly not taking for granted that tech geniuses know how to scan a QR!!