5 Things learned from hosting Milwaukee’s first PropTech Conference

Education, innovation and networking were united on May 1 at Venue Forty Two during Milwaukee’s first ever property technology conference. The conference was the first part of the Smart City Series hosted by REVAMP Property Management.

As a property technology pioneer, the conference aimed to involve professionals and thought leaders with Milwaukee’s tech hub movement through presentations, panels, roundtables, and breakout sessions.

Graham Bowerman, President of REVAMP Property Management said he thinks the event went great, considering it was the first event of its kind in Milwaukee. He said the conference allowed people to get excited and talk about topics like property technology and work towards advancing the city.

“(Getting more people involved with Milwaukee’s tech hub movement) means we’re headed in the right direction,” Bowerman said.

Though the conference was an engaging and informative experience for attendees and speakers alike, Bowerman said he learned a lot about hosting a conference for the first time.

He hopes that others can learn from his experience too, by following these 5 lessons…

1) Form a strong team, and play to their strengths

Bowerman said the PropTech Conference would not have been possible without the help from his team and everyone else who was involved.

The REVAMP Property Management Team is made up of Bowerman, Charles Yauck (Director of Finance) and Rheana Garbis (Chief Marketing Officer). Their team collaborated with Izzy Staton and Emma Tomsich from 1881 Event Productions to plan and coordinate the conference.

“I feel incredibly grateful to be part of a team who prides themselves on collaboration and innovation,” Bowerman said. He also received help from Owen Raisch, Matt Cordio, Andy Hunt, and Alec Shaw.

Bowerman said he especially would not have been able to host the conference without Alec Shaw. “He’s been my right hand man through all of this and we’ve grown pretty close, resulting in a pretty awesome conference and an even better friendship,” he said.

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2) The people and place are pivotal

When planning the PropTech Conference, Bowerman said he worked hard to strategically create an experience for the attendees. To make this happen, Bowerman said he carefully chose each speaker and the venue. Anthony Pennington-Cross, Mark Zikra, Adam Koehler and Jesse DePinto were among the ten professionals who spoke at the conference. Bowerman said he was impressed with the speakers’ content and their ability to engage the diverse audience of entrepreneurs, commercial real estate professionals, students, engineers, and architects.

To improve the experience provided by the PropTech Conference, Bowerman said it was only fair to choose a venue that fostered a friendly yet professional environment. Venue Forty Two, the location chosen for the conference is a modern, open concept event space with a brewery and restaurant built right in. “We couldn’t have found a better location than Venue Forty Two to host the PropTech Conference,” Bowerman said. “(It was) a unique venue for a unique group of people and a unique conference.”

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3)Marketing can make or break an event

Bowerman said his team didn’t start intensively marketing until two weeks before the conference because his Chief Marketing Officer left the company for personal reasons. As a result, Bowerman said a lot of marketing responsibilities fell on his shoulders. Though it took extra time for the event’s marketing presence to develop, Bowerman said he utilized many effective tactics such as making phone calls and personally messaging people on LinkedIn. Although Bowerman said he had many sleepless nights, he said his marketing work paid off and he hopes to start earlier for the next conference.

4)Choosing a date and time is more important than you might think

When choosing a date for the PropTech Conference, Bowerman said he struggled because Venue Forty Two had little availability when his team tried to book it. Therefore, instead of compromising the venue, Bowerman said he had to schedule the conference on a Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. which was not ideal. Although the conference’s date and time weren’t perfect, Bowerman said it was remarkable that the conference sold nearly 90 tickets.

5) Don’t switch the agenda 3 days out

In order to provide a more engaging experience for the attendees, Bowerman said his team made a last minute decision to switch up the conference’s agenda. Although Bowerman said the change paid off, he added that it caused a lot more stress for his team and the employees at the venue. In the future, he said he will be more proactive and try to refrain from last minute changes.

Bowerman said that even though the PropTech Conference is over, his duties as President of REVAMP Property Management are not.

“All of this being said, I thought I would feel fulfilled or even proud of myself after the conference, but I actually feel a completely different emotion; I feel like I haven’t finished my job,” Bowerman said.

At this time, Bowerman said he can’t say much about future events in the Smart City Series because they are top secret, but he encourages Milwaukee residents to keep their eyes open for the next event.

“We’ll be around, Milwaukee…,” Bowerman said.

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