Techweek Chicago is one of the major summertime tech events, and every year it gets better. For the last several years, we were able to get an expo booth at the event. This year I got nominated to go and represent the team! I took a ton of pictures, so come with me on a virtual tour of my experience through the Merchandise Mart’s 7th floor Expo: Techweek 2014.
On the way in! I love the banners they put up each year. It’s an awesome indication of the fun within. You can see the food truck competition in the foreground and the stage for the Future Sound music fest on the left!
First thing to conquer: the line! The event seemed much more popular this year… or it was at the time I showed up at least! There were people flooding in all day, and while I was waiting I made friends with two Google Glass Explorers who were in line with me. Can’t wait to get in!
I got my badge and I’m all set to go! Our CEO, Alex Bratton, was kind enough to give me his Summit pass this year (he wasn’t able to attend), so I got to participate in many of the amazing talks and events offered this year. The check-in was done entirely on iPads, too!
Onto the food truck competition! Being a connoisseur of all things edible, I headed there first. After all, it was lunch time! I got some awesome Vientamese-American fusion from the second red truck from the right, and then grabbed a cupcake for dessert. Shoutout to the Chicago Cupcake truck for the best bananas foster cake I’ve ever had… it was made with cheesecake batter!
Onto the main event! I started by having a quick walk around the expo, and I saw some awesome stuff being done with mobile… a few highlights: A drone company that inspects wind turbines using iPads for live-video, Freeosk (seriously, it’s really cool), Shipbob, a startup that’s looking to be the Uber of shipping, and a silent auction company that went completely mobile! It’s impressive to see what the mobile revolution is still bringing to Chicago.
After that, I went to have a seat for a few sessions. This year there was a real focus on entrepreneurship, mobility, education, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Having a Session badge, I also got to see some of the fantastic presentations by the Techweek Startups. They were competing for cash and sponsor donated gifts!
Next, onto the bar for some networking. Not only do you get to meet many of the participants at Techweek, but many of the organizations on the expo floor bring extra people, so you can ask more questions and meet their team. Also, this year they had a featured drink, a blueberry rum and juice cocktail topped with a dry ice garnish!
In between sessions, I took some time to hang out at the Gamers Station where Microsoft had set up a few Xbox Ones and some computers. I got my butt kicked in Call of Duty by the guy sitting next to me…oh well.
After a few more sessions, I headed home with a heavy bag of swag and tired feet. It was worth it, though. I couldn’t stay for much of the afterparty, but from what I did hear, it was rockin’!
I had a great time this year participating in one of the biggest tech events in Chicago, and really appreciated the effort the Techweek team put into making it a success! Even though much of the event is focused on entrepreneurial topics and tips, it was great to see mobility and the IoT a focus for this year as well. Can’t wait till 2015!
Did you go to Techweek? What were your favorite things about it? Tell us about your experience below.