Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Emma Comeau has been at TechCrunch for five years, wearing many hats, first running TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley program, then as a Sponsorship Account Manager for TechCrunch’s events sales team, then as Event Director, managing the strategy, production and logistics of TechCrunch events.
Before joining TechCrunch, Emma was the Startup Community manager at Dealmaker Media, an events company that hosted startup and tech events in both Canada and San Francisco, producing events such as GROW Conference in Vancouver and Under the Radar in SF.
Emma adores her unruly Rottweiler Chihuahua named Ruckus and hiking around the bay area with her husband.
Emma, how did you get into this industry?
Randomly, I started my career in events doing graphic design for a small startup event that eventually evolved into an operations and leadership role within that organization.
What does your current job role entail?
I lead operations for TechCrunch’s events within the US which means I drive the events strategy, manage the budget, production, and vendors along with six operations members.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
TechCrunch’s flagship event is coming up this October 2-4, Disrupt San Francisco. It’s going to be huge with over 10k attendees over the course of 3 innovation-filled days. We’re ramping up quickly to coordinate content across multiple stages and confirming our 800+ early stage startups that will be exhibiting in Startup Alley and crafting custom experiences for our 100+ sponsors on the show floor.
You have amazing speakers and panelists lined up for this years’ TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. It’s a big event and it seems like it’s getting bigger and bigger (and better!) every year. Share with us some advice and highlights of organising an event of that size.
It’s getting bigger and bigger every year. It’s a beast! The #1 thing you can do is surround yourself with rockstar operators. Our events team is small but works as a well oiled machine.
Also, what are the differences between markets (US vs. Europe) and what are some trends you see when organising events for those two markets? How about differences?
On site experience, creating opportunities for groups of like-minded people to be able to meet one another like the Women of Disrupt breakfast as well as providing easy ways for attendees to meet people outside of their networks, i.e. CrunchMatch.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being a woman in tech / STEM?
Offering women the same opportunities that men have in tech and providing a platform of encouragement of support to other Women in Tech. TC is in a unique position where we have a strong network of women founders and investors where we can help to support connections between those two groups.
Challenge - women just aren't encouraged enough to explore their interests in STEM/tech at an early age.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
AI/Machine Learning is no longer it’s own vertical - it’s bled into every type of application in tech. Blockchain is also very interesting.
Who are your 3 inspirational people / businesses in tech?
Emma Watson, who is a complete badass, has become a spokesperson for Good On You, an app which reviews and provides scores for fashion brands based on their sustainability and ethics practices.
Thinx, the period panties company has a women’s health blog that discusses topics that people (not just women) still think of as taboo today. It tries to demystify and destigmatize sexuality and women’s health issues.
Emily Weiss (who has spoken on the Disrupt stage), CEO of Glossier, has turned her company into a cult beauty brand - and their products are pretty amazing.
Disrupt is where the startup world gathers to see the present and the future of tech in one place. Be inspired by the insights of today's leaders and tomorrow's best startups, learn from industry analysts sharing their business expertise, witness the latest innovations and up-and-coming founders, and make the right connections easily to propel your business forward.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables.