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The 14-15th of august we organised the first ever Camp Ven. The idea was simple: an unconference, in a remote location, over a weekend. The location became Ven – the idyllic island in the middle of the Øresund straight. A perfect place in it’s balance between cosy and remote, but at the same time in the middle of this busy region – no matter which direction you look you see either Copenhagen, Malmö, Landskrona or Helsingborg.

Being an unconference, the grid session was filled by all the participants. There were no ’speakers’ and no ‘audience’ – everyone was there on equal terms. Something which you could really feel.

An overview of the event, and lessons learned from organising it

The participants

Hosting an unconfernce, the most important factor are the participants. Being invite only, with the exception of 10 spots that were open to anyone to apply for, we concentrated on getting a good mixture of business angels, serial entrepreneurs, new entrepreneurs, employees at startups and key people from the startups community. We must say, that mix was really good. Only thing I feel we could have done better for next time – have some partners from some of the VC firms as well on board.
Also, there was a good mixture of people from Skåne, rest of Sweden, Denmark and also some from further away. Overall, few of the participants knew more then a handfull of people in advance – which made for some really good and meaningful connections being made.

The 55 attendees included people such as Erik Byrenius (Onlinepizza), Tommy Andersen (Libratone), Göran Tollstam (angel Truecaller) and Joakim Jardenberg (internet evangalist). It included many really great entrepreneurs, building very interesting companies. But also employees and key people from the startup community, such as Michael Tiberg (Foo Café), Zenia Francker (Founders House) and Erik Starck (Startup Studio Malmö). The full list can be found here.

The Grid

The Grid, with it’s 4 time slots on saturday and one on sunday, looked like this.
the grid camp ven 2015
All in all, very interesting sessions and a good mixture (including topics such as “fuck investors” and “fuck startups”). It was great seeing a good variety, and even session which could have been very similar (such as those about funding and investment) turned out rather different, as different perspectives and different audiences made each one unique. Overall we are happy with how the grid turned out – even if I personally would have loved some more weird stuff, such as the eye-gazing session…

Afterwards the idea was mentioned to maybe have one or two keynotes, or more prepared sessions as well. Something we will take into consideration. Making an unconference is a balance between making it open and spontaneous, but also about sharing as good information as possible between attendees – something that can benefit from preparations.

Lessons learned

Overall, almost everything went as planned. Some lessons that we definitely learned:
Number of sessions and time between sessions – the grid consisted of 4 venue, and 5 1-hour sessions. This was a good amount – in total 20 sessions where held, and 4 on the main day, saturday, felt like a good amount. Also, all sessions where 1 hour, but with 30 minutes between them. This was a good amount of time, as experience from other unconferences is that discussions often are longer then one hour. So this gave room for small talk after sessions and before joining the next one.

Even further diversity amongst participants?

Overall the mix between participants was good when it comes to level of experience. Also, almost everyone knew one other person, but very few knew more then 10. However, gender ratio was not the best – the event was 33% women, which we perceive as OK, but not good enough. This should definitely be improved in the future. Also, the mix between local (southern Sweden), regional (Øresund) and national could have been better. Would be cool with more people from Stockholm and Berlin, London or Helsinki also attending.

Early on we also talked with Martin Thörnkvist and the awesome guys running The Conference about doing something together. Unfortunatly, that wasn’t prioritised enough during the planning process. Maybe next year – would love to have some of the keynote speakers from The Conference having the camp as a pre-tour.

Budget and numbers

As we believe in transparency, having an open budget for the event feels only natural. Overall, the event was a small loss, mainly due to it taking a lot of time to prepare, get the right people on board, scout the locations (we had never done an event on Ven before) and just setting the schedule and planning the food and logistics. When we at the end tried to give a good estimate on how much time it had taken to plan the event, we ended up with almost 250 hours work time, divided over Karsten, Sanna, Linnea and Nicco.
We might also have priced the tickets a bit too low. In the end the event was only financially possible because we got THINK accelerate and the City of Helsingborg to sponsor with a smaller sum (15 000 kr each).

The budget can be seen here, and in rough terms, the event cost and earnings.

Will there be a Camp Ven 2016?

We are very happy with how the event want, and there will definitely be a repeat. It was a blast organising an event that really felt like it created a lot of high value connections.

A big thank you to all participants – you are the one that made the event. Also very thankful for THINK Accelerate as sponsors and City of Helsingborg with Joakim Jardeberg, who besides also fixed us up with a nice internet connection during the entire weekend!

Some pictures

camp ven laughter outdoor

camp ven outdoor icecream

camp ven acke diskussioncamp ven Vesa diskussion

camp ven utsikt

camp ven outdoor session

camp ven kräftskiva

camp ven diskussion group

camp ven discussion 3

camp ven laughter

Photo credit: Erik Starck. Images from all participants can be seen under the #campven hashtag.

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