Last month, we went on the biggest Kami Mission yet. We packed up most of our team and flew to Chicago for ISTE 2018.
For anyone reading this who doesn’t know what ISTE is, here’s the scoop:
ISTE, short for International Society of Technology in Education, is one of the world’s largest and longest-running educational technology conferences. ISTE began at a backyard barbecue in Eugene, Oregon, with a tight-knit group of forward-thinking K-12 and University educators. Almost 40 years later, more than 20,000 EdTech lovers flocked to Chicago for ISTE 2018. ISTE inspires educators worldwide to use technology to innovate teaching and learning, accelerate good practice, and solve the tough problems educators face in 2018.
It may seem like a crazy idea to take your whole team to a conference, but in our experience, it is essential to have a well-rounded team working together in the expo hall. At the Kami booth, we had Marketing, Sales, Developers, and Founders. Marketing, the ones in charge (for once), planned the whole thing and kept it all running. We had our sales team who had meetings booked all day every day with potential customers. And we had our developers who answered all the tough Kami questions (which they do so effortlessly). We really stood out as a strong and collaborative team against the companies that had only sent salespeople to represent their company.
After having a booth at ISTE 2015, 2016, and 2017, it was time for us to think bigger. This started with booking a double booth space. Our old booth was great, but the size limited what we could do with it. With the bigger booth, we were able to turn half of it into a “Kami Classroom” where we held live demos of Kami that were hosted by edtech specialists Ben Sondgeroth and Debra Atchison. This was an excellent way to draw in large groups of people and educate people on the best Kami practices in a group setting. Outside of the Kami booth, we had a spot in the Google booth (the hottest booth at ISTE) where Hengjie and Jordan ran Kami demos and spoke to potential and existing Kami users. We also sponsored presentations at ISTE. This year at ISTE, we worked with many influencers who were presenting and had them include Kami in their presentations. This is another way of reaching out to a broader audience which ensured we had a constant stream of people heading to the exhibitor’s hall to find our booth and learn more about Kami.
One of the best things to come out of ISTE 2018 was the team building we did. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a small collaborative team, but with our team growing internationally it can be a challenge maintaining that and continuing to work well as a team. While in Chicago, the nine of us shared an Airbnb in Little Italy. We had breakfast together each morning, and in the evenings we ate together and discussed strategy. Each year at ISTE, as we’ve heard from almost every educator who visits our booth, Tuesday night, with EdTech Karaoke, is the best night of the week, and we now know why. Surrounded by teachers, we witnessed many let their hair down and kick up their feet for some serious, epic Karaoke! In our free time, we grouped and explored different areas of the city. Some of us opted for the architecture tour, while others went straight for the mall. On our final night in Chicago, the team went bowling at Pink Squirrel and experienced live jazz at Rosa’s Lounge — frequented by the one and only Barack Obama; we felt like we were in great company!
Now that we’ve (almost) recovered from the exhaustion of the last few months, it feels great to reflect on the ISTE 2018. For me, the best part of attending any conference is the people and having face-to-face interaction with our Kami users. It is so nice to see the same people coming back to our booth year after year to tell us how Kami has improved things for them in their classroom.
Great work, team!
Alliv, Hengjie, Jordan, Jason, Bob, Chinmayee, Jim, Maxine, Ayushi and Alicia.