Collision – At the Intersection of All Things Delicious in Technology

photographed and written by Robyn Wyman-dill

It’s May. Hard to believe my writing career began 5.5 years ago this month but it did when I got a job that came with the title of ‘Food Correspondent.’ Now if landing a dream job right out of the gates isn’t surreal enough stuff already, I had no experience writing restaurant reviews. Or, read a food review before. (Not even the internet crowd-sourced sites – like Zagat, Yelp, Chowhound and Urban Spoon.) I had seen those really bad photos people post of the meals they love – which curbed my appetite for dining out tremendously. But I was given a task and stepped up to the occasion. Because when someone believes in me, I do not let them down. This learning curve I decided to climb would change my world view of food forever. Shifting it to a view from the perspective of flavors. Flavors that excite and entice our imaginations to travel to exotic places from our kitchen table. Flavors that refine history and define culture and eras. Flavors that taste and smell and look good. Like Aunt Jemima syrup on an Aunt Jemima ready-made pancake stack. Or, smoked ribs served out of a barbecue truck parked on a French colonial-style street near my hotel in New Orleans. A city where I spent a fruitful week – feasting on a new generation of ideas at Collision Conference Orleans 2016.

The 3-day event served up a menu of all things delicious with breakthrough topics like – Reimagining Creative Communities, Using Virtual Reality to Face Reality, What Can We Automate Yet? and Cannabis:A Scared Plant and a Growth Industry. Flavored with business and technology perspectives that brought 11,382 registered attendees from 106 countries – under the Morial Convention Center roof together – to swim in the fastest lanes in technology with think tank professionals. Besides the morning to night panel discussions on three main stages, and private roundtables upstairs, 407 investors from the world’s leading funds came to scope out the startup talent, hungry for innovative companies to add to their business portfolios.

This event would mark the first Collision Conference held in New Orleans (and the third Collision conference held in the US, by their parent company, CI, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.)Free tickets were provided for 150 women in technology to make sure the event would be as inclusive and diverse as possible.

We want Collision to inspire and connect female entrepreneurs, senior executives and leaders.

For me, the most infectious part of the entrepreneurial mindset is an unwavering determination to chart a new course according to the credo of Star Trek. ‘To go boldly where no one has gone before.‘ Nevertheless, it seemed surreal enough stuff for a lifestyle magazine journalist – like me – to be invited to ‘get immersed’ so that I can open my voice to all things delicious in technology and share it with you.

The first things I look for before I share anything with my readers is personality backed by integrity in the track record. The how and where I can identify with it. So you can too. And then, I compare my impressions with the professional standard. Web Summit, the older sibling of Collision, grew from a meet-up held in the Chartered Accountants House Speakers in Dublin with 400 attendees from Dublin’s technology community in 2010, to an event that tripled in size the next year. (I also launched my journalism career around this time and remember the business climate well.)

By 2013, Web Summit had expanded its reach into the international arena. Attracting over 10,000 people, most of them from outside Ireland. The international media and Bloomberg Television, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and Wired covered the event.

Not an organization to rest on its laurels, CI, the company that runs the Web Summit events, expanded in scope with side-events, adding their signature Night Summit, a series of after-hours events featuring musicians from around the world, and Food Summit, a two-day showcase of gourmet Irish Food in the year 2013. But, in 2014, with Eva Longoria, Peter Thiel and Bono among their speakers in the house and an attendance of 22,000 people from 109 countries, the ‘best technology conference on the planet,” ran into some technological difficulties with WI-FI connectivity. International broadcasters were still able to cover this event, however, which included CNBC, CNN, Fox Business News, Bloomberg, Sky News. Al Jazeera and the BBC. It is a reminder to everyone online we do not live in a perfect technology world 24/7 yet, folks.

Despite all the fuzz over WI-FI access overload at 2014’s event, the curtain would rise again.

The next year’s summit had 42,000 attendees from more than 134 countries and a lot less internet hiccups. The same year, the not one-to-be deterred Web Summit Co-Founder, Paddy Cosgrave, decided to expand his forum even more – this time into the US. Launching Collision Conference, which was held in Las Vegas. The stateside conference was hosted here for two years in a row and coined a ‘burgeoning schmoozefest of startups, investors, influencers, and next-gen business’ by Journalist Jason Bloomberg in a rather flippant article he penned for Forbes Magazine in 2015. Collision stayed calm and soldiered on.

While the first five years of Web Summit had stayed close to home in Dublin, Ireland, and Collision Conference set up shop in Las Vegas, Cosgrave decided to depart from the known and host the show in other arenas in 2016, bringing Collision to New Orleans this year.  Collision will return to New Orleans in 2017.

Web Summit will be held in November in Lisbon and so far, has registered 27,000 attendees with still six months to go. For all the details,  follow the announcements on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.And do stay tuned for more of the sights and sounds of New Orleans(A city that inspires me with its full-bodied culture and authentic soul)and my conversations with some of the more eclectic speakers there in the coming weeks.

Now a word about Aunt Jemima, the first ready-made mix on the planet. Since 1889, this emblem of American cooking has been a family food pleaser with quality that stands for warmth, nourishment and trust – the same qualities you find in loving moms from diverse backgrounds who care for and want the very best for their families – every day of the year. Happy Mother’s Day, Aunt Jemima.


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