Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper and this is The BusinessMakers Show. My guest today: Symon Rubens, Founder of Energy Conference Network and Healthcare Conference Network. Symon, welcome to The BusinessMakers Show.
Symon: Great, thank you. Good to be here.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about your conference business.
Symon: Ok, well I started the Energy Conference Network in January last year, 2015, and in that time we’ve run about 20 conferences within the energy space, particularly oil and gas. And from that, there was some demand from our clients, our sponsors primarily in the technology sector saying, ‘We love what you’re doing in oil and gas; why don’t you try healthcare?’ There’s a real need for healthcare conferences; looking at the new technology, whether it’s within the learning and development space, the internet of things space. We’re doing a 3D printing event, so, and extended into that and then we’ve also launched the Infrastructure Conference Network, which we just launched this year, which is looking at transportation technology. So, it started off within the energy space, and that side’s going really well. Our technology events within the oil and gas sector, we had one a couple weeks ago that had about 250 people at it; it was a great event.
Russ: That’s the one that was focused on IOT, right?
Symon: Yeah, absolutely, the Internet of Things here in Houston. And so the focus moving forward will be on oil and gas, but also looking at the other sectors as well.
Russ: Well you know in the healthcare category, I mean, technology is taking over that place too. I mean, do you always have this sort of technology emphasis in each of these conferences, or is it not so?
Symon: It seems no matter what we look at, and we look at conferences where, you know, we speak to a lot of people and we try to find areas that are of both topical interest, commercial interest, and there is nothing in the market servicing that insofar as a conference. And it seems that whatever area we look at there is technology underpinning it. Innovation is such an interesting conference area, and also it’s the technology companies that are pushing new ideas, new innovations, that find conferences a great platform to do that, because they can demonstrate their technology, they can demonstrate thought leadership through presentations, and they can meet their customers.
Russ: Ok, yeah. You know there really is a lot of transformation going on in all of these sectors. Some people just call it major disruption, too. There’s a guy I had recently on the show, Dr. Vivek Wadhwa, who all he does is talk about disruption and the role that technology is playing all of them. So, it is a great time to be paying attention regardless of what industry you’re in.
Symon: Absolutely, absolutely. And, the conferences are fascinating. And sitting in the conferences and listening to both the technology company speaking, but also the users speaking about how they’ve transformed their businesses, and the case studies that other companies can come and learn from are really what makes the conferences special.
Russ: Ok, well as you know I attended your Internet of Things energy conference here only a couple of weeks ago, and it was very impressive, but it also seems like a subset of technology is internet of things, if that can apply almost anywhere. Have you put together yet your agenda on your first healthcare conference?
Symon: The first healthcare conference we ran was in the learning and development side of things, so it was looking at learning platforms. We’re running a machine learning conference in healthcare in March next year. That’s going to be held in Boston, and the machine learning, the artificial intelligence side is really fascinating; it’s quite scary sometimes. We’re running that, that’s the first healthcare event we’re running within that sort of connectivity space.
Russ: Ok, interesting. And so you also mentioned infrastructure transportation. What will that focus? I mean, now we’re all sort of changing too. I mean, they’re even talking about autonomous 18-wheelers these days.
Symon: I know. The infrastructure things we’re running thus far have been all in Latin America, and that’s because there’s a lot of demand for urban infrastructure development in Latin America. We ran our first event in Columbia last year on metro rail development, and in November this year we’re running the second rail event in Argentina. So, that’s an example of looking not so much at the one specific technology, but a market that need international assistance to develop their markets, and that’s where conferences are perfect, because it’s a way for international attendees to attend for two days and meet most of, well, a lot of the people that they need to meet in that market without having to set up an office and go to that extent yet.
Russ: Wow, that’s interesting. I mean, as you know, this is a business audience and they’re always interested in the business. It seems like the key to yours is being keenly focused on a need that pertains to a particular geography in holding a conference. How do you find those?
Symon: Talking to a lot of people. Talking to a lot of people and we have conversations with people all the time in different sectors, within different parts of businesses in different countries. I find if you‘re talking to somebody who is passionate about what they do, there’s no such thing as a wasted conversation because you learn so much, and you probe, and you can usually find out where there’s a need for more information or better relationships. I’m not limited in scope in any sector. The initial focus was oil and gas, which is great and there will continue to be oil and gas events, but I’m also a businessman that looks for opportunities, and if there’s an opportunity in another sector, we’ll look at it.
Russ: Alright, well Symon, I really appreciate you sharing your interesting business with us.
Symon: No problem. Thanks Russ.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Symon Rubens, the founder of Energy Conference Network, and Healthcare Conference Network, and soon the Infrastructure Conference Network. And this is The BusinessMakers Show.
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