Recap of Collision Conference 2017

The floor of Collision Conference 2017

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Collision Conference in New Orleans, listening to great speakers, and meeting new people in the tech industry from all over the world! Also, I experienced the legendary Night Summits which took me through the French Quarter, Fulton Street, and the Warehouse District.

I had the opportunity to get two free tickets to the conference via GitHub’s Open Source Initiative. I invited my freshman-year roommate, Vai Pahwa, who is involved in entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois, to come along and we had a blast learning from the titans of the startup scene! If you want a chance to win three free tickets for next year’s Collision Conference, sign up through this link!

Day Zero: May 1

We landed in New Orleans the day before the conference started. After checking into the hotel, we wandered around and took some photos and ate some jambalaya before the Night Summit pubcrawl started. My pubcrawl group met up at Erin Rose in the French Quarter. Their Irish coffee was delicious and definitely woke me up. At the end of the night, we ended up on a crowded and chaotic Frenchmen Street, filled with fellow conference attendees and street jazz performers.

Interior of the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center
The interior of the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, decorated for Collision Conference.
The Collision Sign
Posing in front of the Collision Conference sign.

Day One: May 2

Day one started off the conference. I was a bit tired from partying the previous night, so at 4pm, I headed out to get a quick nap. That meant I missed out on Chris Sacca’s Q&A session. Vai told me that it was pretty memorable.

Talk with Marcin Kleczynski
Marcin Kleczynski, a UIUC alum, giving a talk on cybersecurity.

We headed to the Rusty Nail for the Sunset Summit… and for free drinks and jambalaya. Unfortunately, we arrived too late for the jambalaya, but we got pecan pralines as a consolation.

Me with Severin Hacker
Me with Severin Hacker, co-founder and CTO of Duolingo, at the Rusty Nail.

That night, we headed to Fulton Street for second Night Summit. The bars and lounges in this area seemed much more upscale than those on Frenchmen Street. However, it was a lot less crowded and most of the people out and about were conference attendees.

Fulton Street
Views from Fulton Street.

Day Two: May 3

The second day of the conference was quite rainy. There was a thunderstorm sweeping over New Orleans that day, and I could hear thunder from inside the Convention Center. However, two of my favorite talks for the conference happened that day.

The first one was a talk by Mike Massimino about his experience as a NASA astronaut. I found his talk extremely interesting. The second one was a talk by Wyclef Jean about the problem of mass incarceration. At the end of the talk, he rapped in four different languages. Now that’s talent!

Talk with Naveen Jain, Robert Scoble, and Ana Kasparian
Center stage talk with Naveen Jain, Robert Scoble, and Ana Kasparian about the culture of Silicon Valley.

Day Three: May 4

By the final day of the conference, I was already settling into New Orleans. So far, the week has been a fun blur, and one of the most fun experiences in my life.

Talk with Kaskade and Steve Martocci
Talk with Kaskade and Steve Martocci, co-founder of Splice, about the future of music.

For the final night summit, we hit up the Howlin’ Wolf in the Warehouse District. The bar got too crowded, but Vai noticed that Alexis Ohanian posted a picture of Café Du Monde on his Instagram. So we quickly called an Uber and made a beeline to the café. Luckily, we ended up meeting with him and chatting about the future of Reddit for about half an hour. Alexis even bought us some beignets, so I thank him for that as well as the countless hours of online procrastination!

Vai, Alexis Ohanian, and Me
Meeting up with Alexis Ohanian at Café Du Monde.

Since we had a 6am flight to catch, Vai and I hit up Frenchmen Street one last time. We followed some friends we made at the conference and some VCs into a live music venue called d.b.a. We paid $20 each for the cover! Fortunately, the exorbitant cover was worth it. A band called Sweet Crude was playing live that night and everybody loved it.

Sweet Crude
Picture from d.b.a.'s website


Despite skipping the last week of classes, attending Collision Conference was definitely an awesome experience! The five days and four nights spent in New Orleans were fun and filled with gumbo and jambalaya, and I’m glad that I got the opportunity to experience this side of the city. I will definitely return and visit New Orleans again. As for the people I’ve met at the conference, I hope to see you all sometime, somewhere!

P.S. If you want a chance to win three free tickets, click on this link and fill out your email! There’s only a day left for this opportunity, but I’d be great if you can fill it out before then!