Thanks to the fine folks at TELUS, I attended the GROW 2014 conference up in Whistler, BC. It was absolutely fantastic! I headed to Whistler via Greyhound and the views were amazing, check out the picture gallery below. Unfortunately, my bus arrived in Whistler around 1:30 PM, so I ended up missing Debbie Landa’s opening presentation. The conference took place at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and it was really nice, but there were some things that could have been improved.
There were some many great speakers that I wish I could have gone to such as Greg Ponesse’s presentation on Bubl, which I will be reviewing soon. Some others were Dan Eisenhardt from Recon Insturments along with Rafe Needleman’s presentation from Yahoo Tech News regarding building in a hardware world with software expectations. Celeste Burgoyne from Lululemon along with Atlee Clark from Shopify talked about how Lululemon thinks about the guest experience, innovations and startups and the future of retail.
The most I gained from the conference was not as much the presentations (Which were amazing) but rather the exhibitors and the products they were showcasing. One of which I really enjoyed was Mojio.
Mojio is a cloud connected device that plugs into the OBD port of a car, keeping the driver connected to their favourite people, places and things via their smartphone. Unlike other connected car apps, Mojio is an open platform solution that will host an ecosystem of apps created by a range of developers, including car companies, retailers and auto service providers that are focussed on continually improving the driver experience through the world’s first App store for cars. The platform enables drivers to benefit from a single device in the car, yet run many solutions in parallel. I’m really excited about this product and I’m planning to review it soon.
In regards to the exhibits, these were in the hall, outside of the stage. I personally found it to be way too cramped of a space and the booths were not large enough at all to accommodate. I do suggest for next year that GROW place these exhibits into a ballroom to accommodate the number of people. It would also be beneficial if GROW had posters around the conference showing the schedule for speakers, as I found myself looking at my phone lots to figure out what is happening next.
Many will remember that the famed VC Marc Andreessen said that “software is eating the world.” This, I find is not true. Software is not eating wearables and wearables are continuing to take off with such products as LifeLogger, Google Glass, Mio Alpha, Misfit Shine, Fitbug, Fitbit and more. It is true that everyone is making a wearable product these days, with Apple’s rumored iWatch device potentially coming out in a few weeks. However, I do believe that with a combination of great software and great hardware for the wearable device, it can succeed. However, with great software and a crappy wearable, or vice versa, it just won’t happen. Andrew Rosenthal from Jawbone, Liz Dickinson from Mio Global and Brian Peterson from Whitespace, Lululemon talked about this subject.
The next session was with Mark Gainey from Strava, Atlee Clark from Shopify. The CEO talked about how he grew Strava to be the “king of it’s own mountain.” Mark Gainey is the co-founder and CEO of Strava, which is based in San Francisco. The company is focused on creating an online network that connects the global community of athletes. Strava was founded in 2009 and has grown from nothing to a brand that is well known and loved by millions around the world. Atlee Clark is a huge and very passionate supporter of Canadian technology entrepenurs and wants to promote and enable success for them as well.
The next session was with Julie Mossler from Waze, Mark Gainey from Strava, Atlee Clark from Shopify, and Dylan Casey from Yahoo. In this session, they talked about to sell or not sell your data, what is your business model. This is a session that I unfortunately missed but wish I attended. The next session that followed was by Dave Mathews from NewAer Inc, Robert Scoble from Rackspace along with Mikael Berner from EasilyDo Inc. This was a session about airing your dirty data and what does context-aware computing mean for consumer experiences and privacy? This is a big issue around the tech industry, especially with the major players such as Google and especially Facebook.
The sessions for the day concluded with the AMAZING James Nicholson from the Microsoft Surface team talking about users who are power workers, productive but yet free and connected. James is the senior surface manager with almost 20 years of experience in IT Marketing. He is most recognized for being absolutely awesome, and for marketing innovation by IBM and Microsoft.
I then headed up for the gondola talks session with the Whistler Gondola. The views were phenomenal and I rode with 2 amazing folks. At the top I met with many tech individuals from Google, Microsoft and the amazing folks at Jive Communications who headed up the communications part for GROW 2014. There was a mountain top BBQ at the top and the people from Skycatch were flying their drones around catching imagery of the beautiful Whistler, BC. It was a bit chilly, but bearable and the food was delicious! I spent a few hours up there and headed down. Thanks to the people at View Dynamic Glass for the dinner and gondola ride!
In the morning, I was provided with amazing breakfast, thanks to the amazing people at BC Renaissance Capital Fund. I then went to an absolutely amazing session with Bonin Bough from Mondelez International.
Bonin is the VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at the company. He is responsible for all forms of media, including leading and developing the partnerships, internal capabilities and strategies across all forms of consumer connections, including DTV, TV, print and outdoors. He’s been the driving force behind Mobile Futures, a program that partners the company’s brands with leading mobile startups. But last but not least, this is the dude behind OREO! OREO! Yes, the cookies made from heaven! He headed up all of their real time activations. Yes, this guy is the one to thank for OREO being so freaking awesome.
I then watched the battle of the customer channel session that featured Asif Khan from the Location Based Marketing Association, Bonin Bough from Mondelez International, along with Brian Wong from Klip. I got many photos of these, but one photo in particular, that of Brian Wong almost made Debbie Landa, the amazing individual that created this conference burst out laughing. I really loved this session.
Then, the session called Finding and Engaging your Audience came up and Chris O’Neill from Google Glass came on stage with his shiny Google Glass, I started to drool.
You guys have no idea how much I want that product, I literally have dreams about Google Glass every single night! Ah, love that product. Anyways, he came up on stage along with Katherine Barr from Mohr Davidow Ventures.
The next session that I attended was a session called “Data knows best.” This session was about how data science can predict what we want before we do and then learn how to change behaviour for the better. This session was with Suntha Kamal, Chris Bruce from Sproutling, along with the awesome Justin Butler from Misfit Wearables. This was quite an interesting session and I really enjoyed it.
The next session was regarding innovation magic, which included Paul Litchfield from Reebok International, Isaiah Kacyvenski from MC 10 Inc. along with Jessica Alter from FounderDating.
Jessica asked the audience to tweet questions but I found that she wasn’t answering any of the questions sent to her, as I sent her a ton of A+ questions, but she never answered them. The next session that followed was a very interesting session about seamless checkout, with Michael Gokturk from Payfirma along with the man with the amazing hair, Brian Zisk from the Future of Money and Technology Summit.
Then I had lunch off site at this amazing place called Merlins in the Upper Village in Whistler. Amazing food, beautiful waitresses, and you really get your value for your money. I spent a bit there and unfortunately missed two sessions, but I returned to see Cameron Robertson from Lockitron’s very short 4 minute session. The next session was regarding the industrial internet which had the speakers Christian Sanz from the drone company, Skycatch, Brett Murray from View, Inc. along with Reza Raji from iControl Networks.
One session I really enjoyed was regarding automation. This session featured the speakers Rob Coneybeer from Shasta Ventures along with the amazing Robert Daley from 4moms. In this session, Robert showed off his amazing products at 4moms which made the whole audience clap. A new product will be coming soon on the market from 4moms which will be a self-installing car seat. The uproar from the audience was tremendous, everyone really wanted to hear that! Amazing job Robert and I can’t wait to see your product when it’s released.
I also had to check out the amazing TELUS Innovations Bus.
The fabulous Nick headed up this event and was so informative. The technologies that TELUS is coming out with are insane and I am super SUPER excited for what’s to come. Way to go TELUS! At least this (below) isn’t the innovations bus, their bus rocks and smells absolutely amazing.
Then I wrapped up the day, met several exhibitors to chat with them before they head home and concluded GROW 2014. I do have some tips for people planning to attend GROW next year. Bring a mifi device with you, such as the Smart Hub from TELUS for use in your hotel. Hotel wifi sucks, and if you want to get your job done, you absolutely need a reliable connection.
Thanks again to the amazing people at TELUS and GROW that made this happen.
Ti amo <3
Jonathan is the founder and editor-in-chief of TrustedNerd.com. Covering major tech shows such as CES, Jonathan is always there for the latest tech news. Want your gadget to be reviewed or have a release you'd like to be considered for publishing? Send Jonathan an email, jonathan [at] trustednerd.com
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