I was invited to WebExpo 2017 to discuss how I bootstrapped my business. Prague is one of the favorite cities of mine, so it was hard to say no. I'm happy I went there, and I picked up a few lessons while at it.
The tenth anniversary of the event was full of content (four tracks!), and there were afterparties where you could meet people. Most of the attendees were local, and specific sessions were in Czech only.
Like in React Next 2017, the organizers had something special in mind for the speakers. We spent time exploring the city and ended up having a nice lunch (self-paid). Prague cuisine is particularly good if you don't have a strict diet. If you do, then you might be in slight trouble, but you won't starve.
The center of Prague is compact although there are several sights, such as the Petrin tower (think mini-Eiffel tower), outside of it. In addition to the center, we saw the main bridge and castle.
During the way back, I made the mistake of stamping my subway ticket from the wrong end (I prefer perpetual tickets). Of course, there was a check after our brief ride, but I got away with a warning. Lesson learned, stamp the right end!
I hope they consider making an additional trip to the Karlštejn castle and the nearby mines in the years to come. I went there once, and it's one of the most nicer castles you can find in Europe. It's no wonder they film movies there.
I did some exploring of my own during the day I arrived in Prague. Given I have a keen interest in the art of Alphonse Mucha at the moment, I visited two museums featuring his art in the center of Prague. They were more focused on his commercial work, but I gained a few insights.
Mucha mastered design and could use the line to his advantage in composition. You can also see his culture through his works. There's something Czech about them. I wonder if his style ever actually goes out of fashion. There's something timeless, and I felt a connection to Antoni Gaudí's work.
I have yet to see the Slav Epic, Mucha's masterwork, in the National Gallery of Czech Republic. That trip alone would require several days. If you love museums, you won't run out of things to do in Prague.
The event itself took three days. During the first two days there were up to four tracks to choose from, and occasionally there was a workshop running on the side. The third day was devoted to a single workshop, and I skipped it as it was added to the program after I had done my travel plans.
The challenge of a conference like this is how to provide value for every attendee. Lack of singular focus means sometimes you may have to compromise. But it's also good as then you can get insights on topics you might otherwise miss.
Overall, the quality of the presentations felt decent, and I confirmed a few of my hunches as a result. Particularly Joe MacLeod's, Mike Amundsen's, and the final session by Anton and Irene were worth it for me.
I was expecting to see more people at the conference as it was marketed to have two thousand people. In the end, there was perhaps half of that, and the spaces were half-empty. I don't know if it has been this way during the earlier years and I'm not complaining as I prefer smaller amounts of people (a cultural thing).
The conference space was split within a shopping mall. Although unorthodox, it worked quite well. I enjoyed the cinema in particular, and I was lucky enough to be able to give my presentation there.
The main hall had too much echo for my tastes, and it made it slightly annoying to follow the presentations. I don't know if that's something the organizers could have fixed, though, and it might be my personal preference to have less echo.
Despite these issues, I will likely revisit the event if it fits my schedule. Each day, and the day before the conference had an afterparty. I am not at my best at those, but it's still fun to meet new people and try to improve this weakness if nothing else. Prague seems to be the ideal place for these sort of things.
My presentation, Case SurviveJS - Bootstrapping a Personal Lifestyle Business, was about how I bootstrapped my business and changed my life as a result. Although it was on the development track, it probably should have been on the business track instead.
It was more of an inspirational talk rather than straight to the point "this is how to achieve the same technically". The problem is that there's no single right way and you have to learn your lessons.
I felt I could use the available time quite effectively and there was time for a few questions in the end. I might have focused too much on the business aspects, and I would balance the talk differently now if I gave it again. Even in its current form, I think there's still some wisdom in it people might be able to use.
I concluded the presentation with a simple quote: "Dare to dream, dare to try, and never give up too easily". Without dreams and willingness to push not a lot can be achieved. Sometimes you can nudge your life to the direction you want.
It was nice for me to return to Prague. Even though I've seen the main sights of the city, it seems there's more to discover. I even found a secret bar no tourist knows. It seems like Prague has an underground world I have to discover.
The event itself was worthwhile and WebExpo will return in 2018. If you want to Prague while enjoying a cross-cutting event like this, WebExpo is a good pick.