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Riaz Sidi, President of Sidi.io, sat down with David Tyldesley, Co-Founder of SAAS NORTH, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the SAAS NORTH Conference and their decision to pivot to a virtual format.
“We took a while to make the decision to shift SAAS NORTH to a virtual model, because we wanted to make sure we could do it in a meaningful way and we wanted to make sure we were doing it for the right reasons,” Tyldesley explained during the interview. “We are all about connections.”
When deciding to make SAAS NORTH virtual, Tyldesley explained that they needed to be sure that we weren’t just doing a series of webinars because their conference has, and always will be, about the human connections and constant interaction with the audience.
What is SAAS NORTH?
Built, designed, and owned and operated in Canada since 2016, SAAS NORTH is a Canadian conference where the fastest growing SaaS companies learn, network and grow.
How Was it Affected By COVID-19?
Being a business focused on networking, Tyldesley explained that they took quite the hit. Because of this, they knew they had to shift their mindset by pivoting their business model like many of the other SaaS founders did.
A lot of founders have taken this opportunity to launch new products and double down on other products due to the adaption of the new market, the new market dynamics and the new consumer behaviour.
Tyldesley and his team are committed to making meaningful connections and with the new virtual SAAS NORTH NOW model they are confident they still can.
Virtual Model: Why You Should Attend
According to Tyldesley, half of the audience that comes to SAAS NORTH comes solely for content. Those people will get what they always get: lots of content.
In fact, one could argue that the virtual model is going to be better for some people because of the reduced cost of travel and hotels. People who always wanted to attend this event in the past, but couldn’t due to various barriers, are now given the option with no strict time commitment.
Another aspect of the virtual conference is that the attendees are able to watch the sessions on demand. Whereas at the physical conference there were many sessions throughout the day – and various things going on – that many weren’t able to enjoy them all.
All the Contacts, Without the Contact
“What we are concerned about and what we wanted to make sure we could do right was to address the other 50 per cent that say they’re primarily for connections,” Tyldesley had explained. “What kind of connections do you make at a conference? There’s different kinds and we are going to try to replicate it.”
Tyldesley used the example that when someone bumps into another at the Welcome Reception they didn’t arrange for that to happen, similarly when someone is standing next to another in the lineup at the bar they didn’t schedule that. In order to tackle the concern of meeting people and building those connections, SAAS NORTH is going to approach the option of randomized connections for people who are interested in making meaningful connections.
How Does it Work?
“Well virtually it’s a bit scary to click that button and just get connected to somebody that you’ve never met before but it’s strangely addictive once you do it a few times,” Tyldesley had said. “A lot of our audience is getting more comfortable with the concept of virtual networking as well…The audience is adapting to the remote work and remote networking and so forth and I think many people will actually love this and some will actually like it better than a physical conference.”
For those who aren’t interested in large randomized connections, a different type of networking will also be available.
Something for Everyone: Smaller Networking Groups
“This type of networking is for a small gathering of people with similar interests – so imagine you might have a round table with small groups of around 6-10 people.” said Tyldesley. “These groups of people will all have similar interests, maybe it’s digital marketing or paid campaigns on Facebook display campaigns. The idea is for those people to sit down and talk about a subject they are passionate about and create connections from it.”
Other types of networking available at the event include: pre-scheduled meetings, the ability to message everybody else to see who’s going, share files, contact information and set up their own connections.
What About SAAS NORTH 2021?
With this knowledge in mind, what does the future hold when the original SAAS NORTH comes back? Of course they intend to bring back SAAS NORTH physically in 2021, but are thinking of a hybrid model in the future – a physical event with a virtual component for those who can’t make it.
Come Join the Experience!
This year’s event will run from September 9-10th consisting of two half days, live events, pre-recorded content, happy hour, and lots of networking.
All ticket prices are being credited towards the next physical SAAS NORTH conference. $10 from each ticket from this event will be donated to the ALS Society of Canada.
SAAS NORTH is committed to maintaining meaningful connections and are looking forward to being able to create this unique experience for the SaaS ecosystem
To find out more or to buy tickets you can visit: https://saasnorth.com/
Check out the video below to see what happened when SAAS NORTH pivoted to a virtual conference!