PyCon Pune 2017 – New Beginnings 1

There were so many things that were going to be tried for the first time at PyCon Pune. It was the first time we were going to do a PyCon Pune. There was a PyCon India hosted in Pune, but this was different, an addition to the Python events family in India. Then there was the single track format. That is it, just one track, attend the talk or loiter around in the hallway. Then there was the two day developer sprint. It was again something that wasn’t tried before in PyCon India and we wanted to see how it would go. Then there was fact that “weekday conferences usually don’t work”. Finally, for Pune, it was the first PyCon outside a university campus, although that was a change that got forced upon us.

We did all of this and we succeeded. We succeeded because we had the support of almost 600 attendees and speakers. We succeeded because we had a great group of organizers who did not give up even when we feared the worst. We succeeded because of our sponsors who had faith in us and we found partners who saw their success in ours. Finally, we succeeded because the PSF backed us when it mattered most.

A Look Back

The idea of PyCon Pune 2017 took root in PyCon India, so it is a child of PyCon India in more ways than one. All of us rallied around the idea and organized an event that we will remember for years to come. We had volunteers coming from as far as Bangalore, Delhi and Allahabad and everyone stayed up till late in the night making sure that everything from the lights to the projector to video recordings worked perfectly. We lost one recording (that of Katie Cunningham’s talk – if you missed it then I would recommend you register for whichever conference she speaks at next because it was a memorable talk) but all other talks are now on the PyCon Pune Youtube channel.

One of the highlights of the conference was the venue and their facilities. Amanora “The Fern” Club hosted us for the first two days and that is among the most picturesque venues you will get for an event in Pune. The conference hall was a delight and the lighting immaculate. The service was spot on and the food delicious. The fountains, the lake and amphitheater added to the beauty of the place and we hope to come back here in future for more events.

The developer sprints took us to the Red Hat office and that was the single most prominent memory for a lot of attendees of the conference. Not only did attendees get 1 on 1 time with upstream maintainers, they got to sit alongside them and work on actual problems. Some of them even got patches accepted upstream while others took back learnings that they will likely build illustrious careers on. Learning was not the only thing they took away from the conference though, many friends were made as well and memories etched. The facilities at Red Hat were immaculate as usual, fitting of a company that prides itself in its Open Source heritage.

The Finances

One of the keys to managing such a great conference is management of finances and PyCon Pune was no exception. In many ways, this was also the most eventful aspect of the conference due to the challenges we faced days before the conference. Despite those challenges however, we prevailed and we have a success story to share. We are happy to share a summary of our expenses, details of which are available to the Python Software Foundation. We would like to thank our sponsors for the event without whom this conference would not have happened: PSF, Red Hat, Microsoft, Elastic and Pipal Academy.

We accumulated a total of ₹10,27,002 in sponsorships and that was the major source of revenue for the conference. This was however from a number of different sources. The single largest source of revenue for PyCon Pune was not the sponsorships, it was the sales proceeds from tickets, at ₹5,00,862.67 (thank you Janastu for handling payments for us) after deduction of gateway fees. So this was largely a conference for the attendees by the attendees!

The largest head for expenses was understandably the venue, food and internet at ₹9,20,918.35. This took care of the conference venue, food and internet for the two days as well as food for the developer sprints. We spent ₹3,11,508.21 on marketing, which included t-shirts, banners, booths, goodies, etc. and ₹1,03,655.66 on accommodation and ₹67,348 on travel for speakers. The cost for travel and accommodation was lower thanks to speakers pitching in from their own pockets in many cases and their employers sponsoring their travel and stay in some others.

A conference is headlined by their volunteers and speakers and there was a special perk for them in the form of social events and that cost us ₹80,997. We had a child care facility for the duration of the conference but there were only a few takers so the bill for that was just ₹3,550 for the four days. We would like to thank Angels Paradise Academy for extending special rates for their facilities without any preconditions. HasGeek was kind enough to pitch in by lending their video recording equipment; the cost of carrying that back and forth was ₹26,697. Finally, banks and payment gateways charges rounded up the expenses with ₹13,190.45.

Looking back, this was an exhausting but satisfying conference for all of us involved in PyCon Pune. We at reserved-bit took some time to recover from the euphoria, but we are back now and looking forward to being involved even further in the Python community and helping grow the future Pythonistas for the world.

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