CampSass 2014

Well, we did it! When we first announced Camp Sass we had no idea if anyone was going to be interested in the idea. I mean, we knew lots of people were Sass programmers and lived in San Francisco, but we weren’t sure if people wanted to actually meet up. San Francisco, for all its tech-centeredness, is actually not a great city to host a conference in. Most tech workers there tend to want to avoid spending any personal time doing more technology work. Very different than the smaller and more intensely connected tech communities that exist in Toronto, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, and even New York.

Some of our great speakers. Clockwise from top-left: Divya Manian, Chris Eppstein, Claudina Sarahe, Joe Lencioni & Henric Trotzig. Photos by Jina Bolton.

But, good news is that we sold out (and then some), having to turn down a lot of interested attendees. So, win for our first event! Plus, I’m happy to announce that we broke even – which is pretty crazy for a first year conference. Our intention was to keep the ticket prices low and find a way to break even by keeping things el-cheapo.

Also, I’m very proud that the response we got about the conference was extremely positive. Attendees rated the conference at a 4.2/5.0 which is pretty amazing for both our first year and with the technical glitches we had with our A/V system.

Actually, that’s a funny story. Michael and I arrived at the awesome Code for America offices (so pretty!) and started to set up as people were just beginning to trickle in. And then the worst thing ever happened… the main projector decided it hated us and would absolutely not work. Imagine a montage of a bunch of computer geeks trying to wrestle with a projector for 30 minutes. Luckily, the office had monitors against columns to the side, so with only 15 minutes before the event started, we had everyone help turn the chairs 90 degrees and face the side wall where we held the presentations (you can see the set-up below).

Not exactly a stress free start – I nearly died!

It all turned out to be fine, though. It kind of gave a fun jankiness to the event. A fun “get to know you” moment for the attendees as they moved 200 chairs 90 degrees. ;)

The main critical feedback we got was that people were asking for more deeply technical talks. We planned for about one-third technical talks, one-third community, and one-third inspirational technical stories. Why did we do that? Well, the idea was that if you want to learn Sass, there are tons of great workshops, blogs, and videos. You come to an event to connect with those next to you. To start forming a community.

In this respect, I think it was a huge success. I think next time we might go with something more like half deeply technical talks, and maybe even add in a workshop day for those who really do want some hands-on training time with the Sass experts out there.

All in all, we’re super happy with how things turned out. The people who showed up were kind, friendly, and passionate about Sass, and getting to spend a day together was simply awesome.

We’re already starting to talk about and plan the next Camp Sass… though, chances are the next one might be in another city. Don’t worry, San Francisco will always be a home for Camp Sass, but we want to give another city some Catlin Sass lovin’.

Hampton headHampton Catlin is the creator of Sass, Haml, Tritium, and Wikipedia mobile. He’s one part back end developer, one part startup leader, and one part chaos monky. He’s also CEO of rarebit, which he co-founded with his husband. He speaks at a lot of conferences, writes a lot of code, and spends way too much time on Twitter at @hcatlin.