Stories From Fireworks Factory

For the first half of 2013, Capulet has had a specific gathering on its mind. June marked the first Fireworks Factory, an intimate conference for smart, senior digital marketers hosted just off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Participants gathered for three days and two nights to absorb, discuss and share their marketing work through a storytelling lens. Our goal and hope was that people left with a new professional community from which they could draw and a sense of nourishment from the food, setting, and music that was part of Fireworks Factory.

Just over 40 participants joined us this year with a speaker line-up that included CBC Spark host, Nora Young, charity: water digital director, Paull Young, Lee Lefever of Common Craft, Rob Cottingham of Social Signal and singer-songwriter-storyteller John Mann. The agenda included keynote presentations, an "Epic Fail" session and case studies all threaded together by a storytelling theme.

In among the Gulf Islands at the Galiano Inn and Driftwood Village, participants were active in tweeting and posting photos. We've captured some of that social media flotsam and jetsam in a Storify thread here.

We had a remarkable time with all of our participants, the discussions they nurtured, and the network that will continue for years to come. Take a look at what some of this year's participants had to say about the gathering:

"This was a rare bird in my typical conference year: a small, intimate gathering where every speaker was keynote-calibre, the discussions were deep and the takeaways were truly thought-changing." - Laura Authier, St. Michaels University School

"Finally a conference for marketers that recognizes that the true value of an event isn't in the formal sessions but rather in creating the space for informal communities of practice and trust networks to form. And the formal sessions were great too!" - Elijah van der Giessen, TechSoup Global

"This was the first non-BS marketing conference I've ever gone to. Talk about intimate and interactive. Egos (if they existed) and titles were parked at the door and everyone [was] looking to share and learn from one another. Can't wait until next year." - Kenny Grant, Full Stack

"Fireworks Factory was the ultimate blend of intelligence, creativity, and inspiration. The people, the conversation, the location, everything worked together to create this completely unique experience." - Ian Walker, Perch

We've set the dates for our 2014 event. If you're interested in attending Fireworks Factory June 3 - 5, 2014, let us know.



A three-day web conference for smart web marketers

Last summer, we started talking to colleagues about creating a web conference in Vancouver. I think there have been several good marketing events in Vancouver, but no great ones. We connected with about 30 of our friends and colleagues to pick their brains. We ended up with these criteria for a conference:

  • The smartest marketers would be there
  • The conversations would be about web strategy, not WordPress plug-ins
  • It would be an emerging trust network, where we could talk about failures as well as successes
  • It wouldn't have any sponsors
  • The speakers would have insights to share, not products to sell
  • It would take place in a natural setting near, but not in, Vancouver

A few months later, Fireworks Factory was born. We're betting our time and money on the belief that there's an appetite for this kind of conference in Vancouver.

For who's coming, who's speaking and other details, visit the Fireworks Factory website.

Why is it called Fireworks Factory?

We lived in Malta for a year in 2007, on the small island of Gozo. Each town on Gozo has a week-long religious festival--Malta is the most Catholic nation outside of the Vatican--punctuated by fireworks and pyrotechnics. These explosives were all homegrown, crafted in a community-owned fireworks factory on the edge of town. Men from the village would spend time there building and testing fireworks, in the hopes of outdoing their rival towns. Occasionally, something horrible would happen.

Still, they were communal spaces where something risky and breathtaking gets imagined and created. That seemed like a good metaphor for the kind of conference we want to run.