brooklyn beta: how good things end


In a world of start-ups, seed funding and constant acquisition, it’s rare to see something successful willingly close its doors. This past week, Brooklyn Beta celebrated its fifth and final conference. 

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Brooklyn Beta is arguably the most under-the-radar and influential conference in the land. Started five years ago by Chris Shiftlett and Cameron Koczon, Brooklyn Beta began as a gathering of a few talented folks. Over the course of five years, these folks have worked independently and with the big dogs (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) to build the internet.

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Brooklyn Beta reflected a kinship, generosity and ethic that has rarely been exerted by a conference of its kind. All of the attendees openly and adamantly described Brooklyn Beta as the single greatest conference they had ever attended.

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Real Thread had the privilege of printing shirts for the conference. Brooklyn Beta went above and beyond. Here are a few key things we saw that we felt compelled to pass on.

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1. The Rule of the MacGuffin: In fiction, a MacGuffin is a plot device that is used to continue the narrative, but really has no significance to the story.  In Star Wars it was R2-D2, in Avatar it was the mineral unobtainium and in Brooklyn Beta it was…well…it was Brooklyn Beta. The Brooklyn Beta team built a conference where the conference really wasn’t the point. The point was the people, the relationships that formed there and the ideas that were developed by the people.

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2. Be Welcoming: One of the biggest wins of Brooklyn Beta was their incredible hospitality. Jessi, Creighton, Casson and the rest of the Workshop team produced an atmosphere that was beautiful, creative and welcoming. They were backed up by insanely talented designers, like Jen Mussari, who made sure everyone was taken care of. The production (while it wowed) was focused on building a place for people to feel at home. This was evident in their choice of great food, choice drinks and plenty of comfortable hang-out moments.

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3. Your Speakers Matter. Your Attendees Matter More: Brooklyn Beta’s speakers were outstanding, qualified and insanely talented. Brooklyn Beta’s speakers were also their attendees. There was no speaker room, wall of separation or speaker list. Each person at the event was looked at as being equally interesting. It made for an awesome dynamic within the attendees and provided for a wonderful lack of ego .

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4. Quality Over Quantity: Everything at Brooklyn Beta was handled with incredible care. From the signs on tables to the shirts on people’s backs, the team had no problem focusing on giving the attendees a few amazing things, instead of a lot of subpar goods.

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5. If You Look Out for Each Other, Everything Will Be Okay: Every conference is going to have problems. Brooklyn Beta was no different. The thing that stood out was the team’s intuition to know what mattered and what didn’t. At the end of the day, they didn’t focus on the details that made the name of Brooklyn Beta great. They focused on the attendees’ well being. The conference was built upon people championing each other and supporting each other regardless of mistakes. It made for a few days where people were allowed to be brave and mistakes were welcomed.

Brooklyn Beta finished the best way it possibly could have. Good vibes, great people and a standing clarity. It was an honor to print shirts for a conference that understood so clearly the importance of providing things that bring people together.

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For those of you we met, we hope to see you again soon (please let us know if you are in Orlando!). You can pick up any of the incredible shirts from Brooklyn Beta here. For those of you outside of the conference, we would love to make a shirt people love to wear and love to talk about with you.

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