Marc Fontein (linkedin, twitter) is one of the co-founders and organizers of the prosperous Mobile Monday Amsterdam, the local chapter of the broader Mobile Monday (MoMo) organization, that gathers professionals from the mobile industry or who’s profession makes them involved with mobile technologies (during the last decade the irruption of the internet on mobile phones has blurred the frontiers between several industries).
Marc challenges the assumption that “good content and a free event don’t go hand in hand”. (The 4 or 5 editions of MoMo Amsterdam that I have attended over the last year are a practical demonstration of that by merging very interesting speakers and a good curation of themes with a high quality and active audience).
His three basic elements for a successful conference are: make a big effort to assure high quality content (attendees can smell a marketing pitch from miles away), create relevant networking opportunities for the audience and dedicate passionately to the organization of the event.
He sees a lot of [great] small events that “come out of passion and are done because people want to get together instead of having a commercial incentive”. In the specific case of MoMo Amsterdam, one of their goals is to keep it free forever because their audience “pays in the time and the attention that they give to the event instead of with money”. As any other event organizers, they have to make ends meet financially, so they seek alternative ways of funding that don’t interfere with the content.
Networking plays a key role in the success of MoMo Amsterdam too and “half of the event is about drinks (networking, Ed.). people come to Mobile Monday not just to see the speakers […] but to meet other interesting people”.