How It All Started
Gaines Kergosien contemplated starting a new technical conference in January of 2013 a couple years after DevLink moved from Nashville to Chattanooga. He noticed relatively few Nashville area developers, who had previously attended DevLink in Nashville, were unable to afford to attend a conference so far from home.
As he pondered the reasons for starting a new conference, he realized it had very little to do with attending training sessions. The most valuable aspect of technical conferences seemed to be people he met and the interaction that took place. He started floating around the idea of creating a conference centered around interaction and registered the domain name DevInteraction.
The most important aspects of planning a conference are the date and location, so Gaines started investigating venues and creating a calendar of regional conferences. He quickly realized that hotels and convention centers were not only costly to rent but often implement vendor restrictions which drive the cost up further. There were also very few breaks in the conference schedule where a new event wouldn’t compete with an established one for speakers. He decided to focus on work and put conference planning on the back burner.
Over the next couple years, the conference concept continued to evolve. While presenting at Code on the Beach, Gaines mentioned the idea to the president, Paul Irwin. Paul pointed out that Nashville is the “Music City” and would make a great location for a destination conference. That got Gaines thinking about all the music related gatherings that take place in the Nashville IT community and how we might include these types of events in a conference.
Fast forward to February of 2015 when John Kellar announced that he had decided to retire DevLink. All of the sudden there was a giant gap in the conference schedule! Gaines and his soon-to-be wife, Mary Kergosien, were in the midst of repairing major damage to their house from a water leak and planning an April wedding, so they had no bandwidth to take on a new project.
As luck had it, Gaines and Mary found themselves with extra free time after their wedding and decided it was now or never to get this new conference off the ground. The previous month, Gaines had served as a mentor and judge for an event at Lipscomb, which had given him the opportunity to start a conversation about hosting the conference there. From there the pieces started to fall into place.
DevLink had been held at the end of August and it just happened that Saturday, August 29th was available. They asked for advice from all the conference organizers they knew and most of them suggested starting small for the first year and focusing on quality over quantity, so it was decided to limit registration. By the time they hammered out a budget, timeline, and other major aspects, it was already into late June with just over two months to recruit volunteers, set up social media, gather speaker submissions, solicit sponsors, create a schedule, launch a website, market the event, design shirts and order printed material such as signs and programs.
Even with the large amounts of task needed to be completed, Music City Code 2015 was a wild success! So was 2016… AND 2017!
Since the start of the 2015 journey, Music City Code has sold out every year and continues to grow. There has been one major event added each year. In 2016 Music City Agile was introduced with Tommy Norman as the conference organizer and In 2017, the conferences moved from Lipscomb University to Vanderbilt University.
In 2018, the big addition was another new conference, Music City Data, lead by Kevin Kline! All 3 of conferences are now nested under the umbrella event of Music City Tech. In 2020 we took a pause as the world was reeling from a global pandemic, and we are returning in 2021 by venturing into the virtual space!
So that’s where we’re at now. We have been fortunate to receive guidance from many regional conference organizers, and have received incredible help from faithful crew and volunteers.
It had been fun to think about upcoming conferences that could be made possible. Music City Funk (functional) and Music City Camp (for kids) have been discussed. Obviously, we would need additional crew and leadership to make future events like these happen!