While new technologies ebb and flow in the hype cycle — and in conferences too — mobile has shown no signs of weakening as a business or event category. One of the newcomer events to the scene is the App Growth Summit (AGS), a series of apps-focused events held around the world. We conducted an email Q&A interview with the lead organizer, Louis Tanguay, to discuss his events, the mobile ecosystem, and more.
Events for Gamers: Louis, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to take on a few questions from Events for Gamers. Tell us a bit about your path that led you to build the App Growth Summit event series you started in 2018.
Louis Tanguay: Thanks, Paul! It’s always great to speak with you! I have been producing events in the mobile app industry for 4 years prior to this, and successfully produced 40+ events. Talking with all of the attendees, sponsors, and speakers, and hearing what they wanted I knew there was a need for the type of events App Growth Summit provides. In 2018 I started App Growth Summit and our content creation division, App Growth Experts, to provide the type of perfectly-sized, invite-only, VIP experience events.
E4G: Based on what you have learned from building conferences in 2018, what can we expect that might be the same, or different, from the App Growth Summit series?
Louis: Our key differentiators from other events are our low vendor count and invite-only format. By having our events invite-only, we strictly control the number of vendors allowed into the event. We love vendors, they are a very important part of the ecosystem, but too many vendors at events equals a sales-centric vibe, whereas when you experience an App Growth Summit event the feeling is way more laid back, inclusive, and attendees are more at ease because they aren’t being sold to by half the audience.
Another key difference is our attendance range. We cap our events as well. There are events which are proud to get a sea of people in there and try to outdo each other for who’s bigger than whom (cue the childish references here), but for us, we are going to have these perfectly-sized events of 300-500 people MAX.
There are other differences such as high-quality hot breakfasts, gourmet buffet lunches, unique activations for publishers to actually interact with each other (ie roundtable discussions), and even a personal branding room which Liftoff ran where someone can get consultation on their LinkedIn profile and get new headshots taken! We are always looking for ways to be unique and different in a much too crowded space, so we stand out above the others with quality over mass quantity.
E4G: Looking back at your work so far, what’s the most challenging aspect in your event-building work so far this year? What’s the most gratifying?
Louis: If you know anything about event creation, it’s that there’s never a dull day. Hahaha. This is good and bad. I have learned to come up with not just a Plan A, but also a Plan B…C…D…and E…..and F. Something is always going to happen which you never accounted for, so it’s like surfing chaos, and can you stay on top of your board. For the most gratifying aspect of event production, it’s at the end of the event where people come up to you and tell you that it was an amazing event or the best event they’ve been to, etc. Those moments are the validation which confirms that all that hard work, late nights, and frantic phone calls snuffing out fires were all worth it.
E4G: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself two or three years ago, would you still follow this path toward building events around mobile app development and growth? If so, why?
Louis: Yes. I wouldn’t change a thing. I never like to think I would change something because then who knows where I would be. The company is in a great spot, and I wouldn’t change that nor risk it for the world. Everything happens for a reason, and whatever happened over the past 2 or 3 years happened so we can be talking right here, right now…and I’m perfectly happy about that!
E4G: Looking back, how have your events succeeded in speaker and attendee diversity from the mobile and app development businesses? In what ways do you think there could be improvement?
Louis: All of our events have had a great amount of gender diversity. The App Growth Summit NYC event had 53% women speakers, we had another Mini-Summit in NYC with 83% women speakers. Our App Growth Summit SF event had 45% women speakers, and our Sydney event (Mobile Marketing APAC) had 72% women speakers. We aim for at least 50/50, but sometimes we’re under, sometimes we’re way above.
Other events DO NOT walk the walk. They put out press releases, or have special “women-centric events,” or they’ll put women on a panel about “women in digital” topics, but then if you look at their speaker rosters they’ll have only 30% women speakers. We don’t believe women should be used as token press release fodder for guys to quote themselves in press releases. We believe women should be placed on the stage, and given the platform they deserve as qualified professionals. When we have all-women panels, we allow them to discuss the same topics the mixed-gender topics do.
Our goal is to normalize the presence of women on stage as leaders. Each of our events has also featured a female keynote, at least. Now, there’s one serious lack of diversity in the entire industry and that’s with black and Latino representations. We are teaming up with organizations which focus on providing STEM education for underprivileged Americans in hopes to have even more of a wide range of diverse speakers.