Our Conference Networking Tool: Idea Mixer
In our previous post about Idea Mixer we discussed the whys and hows of creating Idea Mixer. In the following article we will be detailing the features of the project. We will conclude by determining what worked as expected…but also what didn’t and what to implement for the next MCEconf edition!
Two weeks prior to MCEconf, we started sending emails with the registration to Idea Mixer instructions. Indeed all participants needed to register online to be able to play the games. It allowed us to gather information that we used to create a more personalized experience for the attendees. The day before the event we displayed ten Idea Mixer tablets at strategic locations in the venue that would be used as the main interface for the networking games. We also designed a whole set of promotional materials, banners and posters to attract people to the stands and the coffee brewing workshop.
To play the game attendees had to touch the tablet with their badge equipped with an RFID sensor. Once touched the tablet screen would display a set of challenges that had to be completed in order to get points (points that will be ranking participants and exchanged against beers at our final party). The main idea of challenges was to mix people - devs with designers, designers with product people etc. Challenges were designed as sets of questions that could only be answered with the help of an other participant with a different background. If a participant was a developer, he had to find a designer to complete his challenge. In this way, we gave participants the ready-made excuses to hook someone and start a conversation on specific questions for e.g. : “Which Polish typographer publishes Google Web fonts?” or “What is the default IDE for Android?”.
We also designed MCEconf badges to help the participants ease themselves into conversation with other attendees. Badges were equipped with hashtag stickers visible from afar, informing about the holder’s interest (The tags had been individually chosen and registered online before the conference)
Take a Selfie and exchange the information with the person you just have just met! No business cards needed here! Both of the players who have done the selfie, received an email with their addresses in CC. E-mails included also contact details, social media addresses and the selfie you took.![statistics-05.png](statistics-05.png)
Our office daily life was a big source of inspiration for this project. The IdeaMixer Cafe is an idea which was born from the Polidean connoisseur art of coffee & tea brewing. One of the challenge was to brew one of these beverages along with a team of four attendees. Each person drew randomly their role for the process. One could be asked to spin the brewing wheel of destiny to see what “potion” will they brew, or to bring the water to the right temperature, measure the proper amount of leaves or grains, etc…Thanks to Idea Mixer Cafe we obtained the combined effort of physical and digital interactions between attendees as much as team building dynamic between complete strangers…and great free coffee and tea to offer.
To incentivize the use of Idea Mixer, we inscribed the networking game into a competition. Attendees that won most points got rewarded with next year conference ticket or/and Jitter workshop tickets. For the rest of the participants, they were awarded beers in exchange of their points at our closing party.
So at the end of MCEconf, can we say that we reached our initial goals? What was the general feedback from attendees about Idea Mixer? How do we build a better networking game next year? The general picture of Idea Mixer one could get during the conference is a lot of people running the halls during slack time, asking for designers, or developers to help them answer our challenges. Also lines of people formed to brew tea of coffee! We can say that Idea Mixer gathered people, mingled genres and developed networks. From attendees feedback and our own observations, we believe we have managed to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for exchanges and encounters.
However, Idea Mixer can be improved. One of the problem was the lack of clarity concerning the project itself. Many people were not listed when the conference started, so their badge was not encoded. Therefore, we had to register hundreds of people manually. That cost us a lot of time and also confused participants. Next year, the registration for the networking game will occur during the general conference registration.
The coffee stand got victim of its own success and the queue to participate got so long that people resigned. MCE^4 will need to rescale Idea Mixer coffee stand into a more practical activity. As people really enjoyed interacting with the Idea Mixer application we would also like to hide easter eggs in it, with rewards for the one finding them.
All in all we can say that Idea Mixer was a success as many people engaged and connected through the prism of the app. It also entertained attendees during slack time. As for strengthening mobile-centered CEE community, we believed it went the right way as encounters are the fertile ground for the growth of further partnerships. All our primary goals were fulfilled but we have to admit that the exercise of changing people’s behaviour through technology and design can be really tricky. However it remains a challenge that we will not grow tired of at Polidea. Join us next year for MCEconf to discover our new iteration!