Last year in September, one of our clients – a top-15 cryptocurrency exchange – asked us to host an event during Berlin Blockchain Week. We’ve organised events before, but never on our own turf of Berlin so we were naturally excited about the opportunity. After a great evening and running a quick post-game analysis of our efforts, we felt our biggest blocker to turn the evening into a success hadn’t been something inside our sphere of influence. It was the fact that Berlin Blockchain Week, despite its best intentions, wasn’t able to cash in on its potential of uniting the community and offer them a banquet of events. There was a website and that’s about it.
This is especially problematic if you’re new to the space and not part of the ‘in-crowd of crypto‘ – the highbrow (developer) clique that might intimidate with name-dropping and jargon; a culture problem that the tech industry at large deals with. Take Devcon IV for example: the Ethereum Foundation withheld two thirds of the tickets while attempting to sell the remainder to people who can contribute code, or cough up the high price.
Since we don’t write code and believe in the credo do what you do best, leave everything else to the rest, we wondered how we can contribute to the community.
The aforementioned Ethereum conference Devcon 4 in Prague was the next big conference, and only a short train ride from Berlin. The perfect opportunity to get involved. We had been brainstorming on what we could do with limited resources and found inspiration in an annual music festival in Barcelona.
Each summer thousands of people travel to the Spanish city for a combination of art, music, and technology at Sonar Festival. It’s a great event in the middle of the city, and a must-do for European festival lovers that prefer to leave their umbrellas and wellington boots at home. Before, after, and while Sonar is going on, dozens of parties and events pop up alongside but off the festival grounds. This has become so big, that the majority of visitors have decided to venture to Barcelona just for what has become known as OFF Sonar.
We already knew that Devcon 4 would bring out a lot of people in the industry, and that soon meetups, workshops, hackathons, parties, and events would pop up all over Prague. So what about launching OFFDevcon?
Off-conference Grocery List
To launch the initiative and unite all events, there were a couple of things we needed to build from the ground up. It’d be an understatement to say it was going to be challenging without any brand equity and only 6 weeks to go.
We figured we’d at least need:
- OFFDevcon Branding
- Events Website, open to all submissions
- Twitter account
- Events Spreadsheet
- Strong growth strategy
While working on the branding and figuring out what other opportunities there might be to make an impact, we came across something that it seemed nobody had realised yet. Ethereum’s biggest annual party would coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the Bitcoin whitepaper, which in turn falls on Halloween.
We decided to double down on our message that there is more than just ETH and developed our branding around that. The visual part consisted of an outline of Vitalik, who reached near-immortal status within the ETH community, with red spray-painted crosses over his eyes, and the brand abbreviation ‘OFF’ in bold letters.
The brand style is a reference to underground punk culture and movies like The Warriors; the colours black and red also found its origins in the subculture. Aside from this working well with our message and the tongue-in-cheek brand voice we adopted, it is most definitely a reference to the anarchist nature of crypto’s inception.
The website focused on guiding visitors through the off-conference and highlighting a few current or social responsible events. We used our in-house growth power to spread the word through a multitude of organic channels and communities, used paid marketing and our Twitter channel for more reach, and went viral with our final trick. Organising the biggest party of the week to celebrate Bitcoin, in the middle of an Ethereum conference.
I Love It When a Plan Comes Together
Quickly after launching the website and events guide we were surprised by the outreach of hosts asking us to list their events and help them get some exposure. Thousands of people used the website and spreadsheet to keep track of what’s going on during the week. The guest list for the OFFDevcon party was full in no time and we had to scramble to get the venue to increase their capacity.
Most of all, it was rewarding to see and hear people adopt the term ‘OFFDevcon’ to describe events, parties, and other activities happening outside of the walls of Devcon 4. The pinnacle was the OFFDevcon Halloween party, where more than 1500 people came together to network and dance the night away – on a Wednesday night. Blockchain projects, investors, and the community joined to support our mission in mind blowing ways.
And the best thing? We were able to make a splash in the crypto industry by supporting the community and did not mention our company once. Sometimes the best marketing is to not market yourself at all.
The Off-conference is here to stay. After last year’s success we’ve been looking at different opportunities to once again indulge ourselves – it is after all an investment of time and company resources that we don’t want to take lightly. After last year’s success and the recent announcement of Devcon V in Osaka you understand that we couldn’t quite contain ourselves. That’s why we’re announcing this year’s return of OFFDevcon: Osaka.
Would you like to support us in our mission to bring together the crypto community and let them know there is more than just ETH, get in touch.