In one sentence: the Fifteen Seconds Festival in Graz is a conference made by millennials for millennials.
The Fifteen Seconds Festival is one of the most popular events in Graz, with 6000 people attending in 2019. It is a conference on the topic of innovation and curiosity, with speakers coming from all over the globe and from some of the world’s most known brands: Google, Adidas, Ben&Jerry’s, Starbucks, and so on.
This year, I managed to get a press pass to attend. It was an awesome event and I want to tell you all about it. So read on and let me know if you were there too!
A bit of history of Fifteen Seconds Festival
Thiemo Gillissen and Stefan Stücklschweiger came up with the idea for the conference in 2012. Back then it was named “Marketing Rockstars” and it was meant to be a conference focusing solely on marketing.
With no capital and not that many connections, the duo went to marketing experts all over the globe and convinced them to come to Graz for one of the first ever conferences on the topic of marketing. And somehow, much to also their surprise (as they mentioned a couple of years ago when I was volunteering at the festival), the experts accepted and came to present their marketing secrets at the festival in Graz.
Three years ago, Marketing Rockstars turned into the Fifteen Seconds Festival. With this, Thiemo and Stefan wanted to expand the scope of the conference. Digital marketing was not a sustainable topic in the long-term, so the scope was expanded to business, science, technology and mobility. All under the motto “the future belongs to the curious ones”.
The fifteen seconds festival in 2019
I have been wanting to go back to the conference since 2015, when I was volunteering as a speaker-supervisor at Marketing Rockstars. So when I realized that I could apply for a press pass for the festival, I jumped at the chance and luckily enough the festival organisers were happy to welcome me to the conference.
It was great to be back! And I found that the conference had grown to be something much bigger and grander than what it was four years ago. But the flair and personality of the original Marketing Rockstars was still there.
This year, the fifteen seconds festival had 9 different tracks (including a special one just by Google experts) and 2 more workshops tracks. It spread out over most of the Stadthalle and on the floors there were numbers of stands by companies, sponsors, incubators, makers and even a food truck mile.
The whole atmosphere is riveting and just “cool”. There are a couple of djs playing music everywhere and even a ball-pit in the corner to relax in, as well as a lounging area outside. One plus is also that you are constantly surrounded by fridges with free beverages, from Vöslauer water to Almdudler, Red Bull, Makava and even beer (after 12). There are also a couple of photo booths, virtual and extended reality games as well as a hairdresser.
With everything going on around you, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on a talk. What they did for two stages however, is set up silent conference headphones so you can listen do the speaker without having noise disturbing you.
The first day
My first day at the conference started with me grabbing a free chocolate crepe for breakfast from the Martin Auer stand. I saw the fifteen seconds festival opening talk by the two co-founders, but then I spent, honestly, most of the time checking out all the cool stuff in the halls. I ended up going only to two or three talks! To be honest, the space is so huge and I got lost a couple of times trying to get from one stage to another. Not only that, but there are a lot of distractions everywhere! (Who can resist a huge adult-sized ball pit when you see one?)
I spent a lot of the time talking to the cool people at the stands. I was on a quest to find some interesting makers from Graz to present to you readers for this blog post. It is amazing how many awesome ideas come from people in Graz and that I knew nothing about!
The second day
On the second day I spent a bit more time going to the talks instead of walking around. I started the day with some müsli from MyMuesli at their all-you can eat stand and headed straight to the Growth stage to listen to Stephan Gates. (That was one of the best talks I have ever heard, btw. Truly inspiring and honest with a capital H.) Then I heard Adidas talk about how they redesigned their logo over time and a talk about influencer marketing.
I don’t really have anything to add about the conference at this point. The stands did not offer anything that wasn’t there the day before. For some reason the conference seemed much more crowded than on Thursday, so that was kinda annoying. You had to wait in really long queues to do something like get a picture taken by Getty or try out the VR simulation machines.
Why should you come to the fifteen seconds festival?
The motto of the fifteen seconds festival is “the future belongs to the curious ones”. If you are a curious person and never want to stop learning, this conference is the place for you. With so many talks to choose from and cool people to network with, there is no chance you’ll get bored.
Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen seconds that we’ll never get back.Colleen Hoover