Five Things You Missed at WildApricot’s First User Conference

WildApricot Updates April 17, 2018

Terry Ibele

By Terry Ibele

Last week we hosted our first ever WildApricot User Conference as part of Personify’s Annual user conference, PersoniFest. The conference took place between April 8 - 10, in downtown Austin, Texas.

Now, the first thing you might notice about PersoniFest is that Personify tends to create names that leverage the company name. They have a product called Personify360, another one called PersonifyGO and so of course, their user conference is called PersoniFest. Why PersoniFest, you might ask? It is a festival rich with attendees from our company, customers, and partners. It is a great opportunity to learn, network, and have fun while ultimately enhancing what you and your organization achieve with our portfolio of products. 

Here's a two-minute sizzle reel showing highlights of PersoniFest.

Nearly 100 WildApricot customers attended (over 500 total attendees!), and if you weren’t able to attend, here are the big five things you missed out on.

 

1) Incredible Face to Face Connections

I’ve been to other conferences in the past and found it difficult to move past small talk with attendees.

Not here.

The people I met at PersoniFest were so down to earth and passionate about their work, it was infectious. That’s because the people from these organizations are working to change their communities for the better. From the Rural Health Association of Tennessee, the Young Men’s Business League, to one of the many chapters of the Association of Talent Development, everyone had an amazing story to share — it was difficult not to get lost in a conversation with someone else.

As I listened to more stories, another thing quickly became apparent to me.

Everyone I talked to was trying to do a lot with a little, and without much help — but that was also the beauty of coming together.

People naturally started sharing their tips and strategies on how they use WildApricot, how they grow their members, how they handle difficult board members, and more.

Overall, it was an amazing experience to be part of. We all made lots of lasting connections.

 

2) The Persi Awards

During the WildApricot appreciation dinner on Monday night, we handed out two Persi Awards to two different organizations.

The Persi Awards are given to customer that we see making a bigger impact in their communities through WildApricot.

Here they are:

 

The Innovation Award

The innovation award was given to the organization that has done a great job integrating all the features of WildApricot to manage their membership and drive their mission forward.

This year we gave the award to Sue Barnes on behalf of the UCLA Retirees Association.

UCLA

Here's a picture of Sue Barnes (UCLA Retirees Association) accepting the award from our Chief Marketing Officer, Shiv Narayanan.

Persi Awards1 

The Impact Award

The Impact Award was given to the organization that has used WildApricot to free up their time in order to create significant impact in their community.

This year we gave the award to Lisa Dean on behalf of Farmers Inspired.

Farmers Inspired

Here's a picture of Lisa Dean (Farmers Inspired) accepting the award from Shiv Narayanan.

Persi Awards 2 

3) WildApricot Presentations

Attendees had the opportunity to get in-depth training on WildApricot’s software and also learn the marketing strategies we’ve used to grow WildApricot year over year.

Here’s a list of those sessions:

 

How to Start Using Facebook Ads to Reach a Big Audience with a Small Budget

Farhad Chikhliwala, our in-house Facebook Ad expert shared his playbook on how any organization, no matter the size, can use Facebook Ads to find new event attendees, donors, members, etc., for as little as $20.

 

How to 4X Organic Traffic to Your Website in 12 Months

Terry Ibele, our SEO expert shared his playbook on how organizations can increase traffic by bringing their website pages up to the top of Google’s search results by simply changing a few technical things about them.

 

Product Demo: WildApricot’s New Online Store

Mark Faccia, one of our Customer Success Managers showed customers the simple process to set up an Online Store on WildApricot as well as our future plans for the feature.

 

WildApricot Product New Feature Demo - Mobile App for Members

Alain Lo, one of our Customer Success Managers showed customers how to use our new mobile app for members as well as our future plans for the app.

 

Personalised Q&A Sessions

Throughout the conference, customers could sign up for a 15-minute time slot with one of our staff, where they could ask any questions about their WildApricot account and receive personalized support. This proved to be extremely popular as every time slot was quickly booked.

 

WildApricot Overview

Our Customer Success Managers Mark and Alain gave a “classroom” session on how to use the main features of WildApricot.

 

Partner Summit

This special session for WildApricot Partners covered topics ranging from WildApricot’s roadmap to how they can make the most of their partnership with WildApricot.

 

4) Aron Ralston’s Inspirational Story, and SaulPaul’s Entertaining Rhymes.

Have you heard of the movie 127 Hours starring James Franco? 

It tells the story of a canyoneer who becomes trapped by a boulder which crushes his right hand. He spends five days alone in the desert until he decides to cut off his hand and hike back eight miles to his rescue.

The movie is based on real-life canyoneer Aron Ralston’s experience in the Blue John Canyon. At PersoniFest, we had the privilege of hearing his story live.

It’s nearly a week later, and we’re still talking about what he shared. It was emotional, shocking, and downright unfathomable. Ralston’s powerful narrative encouraged us to recognize our inner potential and to appreciate and harness our relationships to overcome life’s adversities, regardless of how large or daunting our “boulders” may be.

Later in the evening, we were treated to some musical entertainment from local rapper SaulPaul, a musician with a message.

He taught a few daring individuals how to do the Texas Two-Step while he rapped to the audience.

I also had the opportunity to come on stage as one of a dozen people who each gave him a word to work into a live rap. Of course I chose the word “apricot.”

Here’s a picture of me on stage.

 

5) Meeting WildApricot and Personify

This was the first time WildApricot invited customers to a live event (we’ve never held one before!). Being a part of Personify now means that we get to do awesome things, like join their annual conference, PersoniFest.

For those that came out, it was a great opportunity to meet some of our Apricot team:

  • Shiv Narayanan: Chief Marketing Officer
  • Donald Cowper: Head of Content
  • Farhad Chikhliwala: Demand Generation Manager
  • Nicki Kowsari: Sales and Partner Relations
  • Mark Faccia: Customer Success Manager
  • Alain Lo: Customer Success Manager
  • Evgeny Zaritovskiy: Chief Technology Officer 
  • Terry Ibele: Head of SEO

Attendees also had the opportunity to meet the Personify team — their staff, executive directors, and CEO, Eric Thurston.

All of us were attending PersoniFest just as much as the attendees — we were chatting with customers during the networking sessions, laughing over meals, and learning during the presentations.

It’s my hope that we see new and familiar faces at next year’s event.

 

Bonus: Bats!

One thing Austin is famous for are it’s bats — more than two million of them.

The bats all live under a bridge in the downtown core and every night they all fly out at once in search of food.

A few went out at sunset to experience this incredible phenomenon. 

800px-Austin_-_bats_watching_3

Photo from wikimedia.com

 

Where To Join Us Next Year

On the last day of PersoniFest, the organizers revealed 2019’s location by getting attendees to sing “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States of America.

Movin' to the country,

Gonna eat a lot of peaches

That’s right, next year Personifest will be hosted in beautiful Georgia, the Peach State of America.

We hope to see you next year in Savannah, Georgia!

 

Pictures!

WildApricot User Conference 3

Nicki Kowsari (Sales and Partner Relations) and Shiv Narayanan (CMO) with some of WildApricot’s customers at the appreciation dinner.

WildApricot User Conference 5

Mark Faccia (Customer Success Manager) showing customers how to set up the Online Store.

WildApricot User Conference 1

Farhad Chikhliwala (Demand Generation Manager) presenting on how to promote your organization with Facebook Ads.

WildApricot User Conference 2

CTO of Personify, Dave Cooper, delivering his keynote presentation on Product.

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