How GMIC Grew To Become The World's Largest & Most Influential Mobile Internet Conference

By Gurpreet Singh, COO, GWC India and Producer of GMIC India

Gurpreet Singh, COO, GWC India and Producer of GMIC India

GMIC (Global Mobile Internet Conference) is an event for mobile industry professionals to network and exhibit their work.

The Western world has successfully hosted large-format conferences such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas or the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But an event of a truly global scale � and that too in a nascent world of mobile internet � was relatively unheard of in Asia, at least till few years ago when the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) made its humble beginnings in 2009. With merely 300 attendees, the initial aim of GMIC was to increase the dialogue between mobile internet companies in China and Japan. Next year, it more than doubled its attendees and in 2011, that number grew to over four times to touch 3200. The latest edition of GMIC in Beijing this year saw over 20,000 attendees. After debuting in San Francisco in 2012, we soon became Silicon Valley's biggest mobile conference. This year, we expanded to Tokyo and I now have the honour to oversee its launch it in India next month.

Many events try to become the go-to sources for the industry, but not every event grows into achieving what GMIC has become. Vaughan Smith the Vice President of Facebook described it thus: "The Valley needs to think more globally. With its focus on Asia, GMIC is among the few tech conferences in the Bay Area that's focused on important trends happening outside the US". In this edition of siliconindia, I try to share with you some of the secrets behind the tremendous success of GMIC in becoming a not-to-be-missed conference on every technophile's annual calendar. Phenomenal growth is not possible without some hiccups and challenges and I briefly share our philosophy on addressing those, too.

The biggest advantage for GMIC has been in its roots � from its very beginning, it was conceived as a mobile internet conference of the people, by the people and for the people of the industry. Hosted by the GWC, the leading membership based club for the global mobile internet industry, our objective has been very focused � a quest to connect mobile innovators globally to learn industry trends and emerging technologies in key markets. Such laser-sharp focus is the first step to build a global event.

The second major success contributor has been that GMIC is not the only annual highlight for GWC members, but a natural culmination of year-long relationships through countless networking and learning opportunities, international executive trips and monthly private dinners. Executives today expect more than just casual networking at a conference. Be it Angry Birds from Rovio, or promotions of HalfBrick, the creator of Fruit Ninja, or Evernote or InMobi, companies plan their mega launches at the GMIC platform to gain instant success in new markets.

As we enter newer markets, there have always been challenges, but our approach has been one of cooperation instead of competition. We believe in working together with local players to help scale up the mobile internet ecosystem rapidly. We have turned opposition into opportunity by creating a win-win for all stakeholders. I will not delve much into logistical challenges such as finding the right vendors and partners which too are crucial in deciding if your event will be successful.

Last but not the least, what has worked for us through these six years is the inherent fabric of our conference structure. When someone registers for a GMIC, they know that they will brush shoulders from the people who matter. Speakers at GMIC conferences have included the CEOs, founders and other top executives from companies like Google, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Tencent, Evernote, Xiaomi, LINE, DeNA, Electronic Arts, Lenovo, InMobi, DST Global, Sina, Gree, Sequoia Capital, UCWeb, Samsung, Nokia, Alibaba, Huawei, Qualcomm, Baidu, Dropbox, gumi Inc., Ericsson, GroupM, SingTel Innov8, Y Combinator, Coursera, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Coca Cola, Ford Motor, Standard Chartered and more. Participants also know they will be treated with a delectable assortment of opportunities beyond keynotes, panel discussions and fireside chats � from VIP dinners to app competitions to investor sessions for start-ups to deep-dive sessions on market penetration strategies and business match making. Needless to say, a conference can never be successful unless it also remains a torchbearer of the futuristic trends-to-be and the next big thing to help participants stay ahead of the curve.

I sum up with this quote from Naveen Tewari the CEO of InMobi: "This is the conference that introduced us to China, so we love it, and we've been coming here for the last three years". Encouraging words like these are our inspiration to choose India as only the fourth such destination after China, U.S. and Japan. The euphoria so far has been more than welcome from mobile innovators, investors, entrepreneurs and developers alike, and I will be happy to share my experiences of managing this first India edition of the conference when I meet you in Bangalore in September!

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