Ask the Innovator – What Does It Take To Innovate in Event Planning?

Updated: Oct 28

Each month, Texas Innovators sits down with an innovator from a specific industry in Texas and discusses how they are able to innovate in their field of work.

At Texas Innovators, we understand that innovation does not start and stop with one specific industry. In our "Ask the Innovator" series, we will highlight different innovators making an impact in their respective fields.

For some, it could be developing a new product or process. For others, it could be as simple as being able to make a lasting impression on an individual.

This month, we sat down with Phil Castro, founder, and host of Kamp. We discussed the formation of Kamp and the challenges associated with planning events nationwide.

Q: How did Day Kamp get started?

A: It started as a passion project of mine. When I started, it was actually just me doing it. I rented out a space and put it on Eventbrite. There was no company, no entity, and I was just blabbing about startups for eight hours. I know that sounds horrible, but the attendees actually really enjoyed it and they just were hungry for this kind of knowledge. There seems to be some sort of educational gap with first-time founders that do not understand certain elements and fundamentals, so, I wanted to address that gap. I quickly found out that there is a huge need for something like this. Regardless of how I did it, I knew that there was a huge need. So, I basically started going to different cities across the country and just doing it myself. Over time, maybe a year in, that is when I looked up and said, ‘you know what, this just needs to become a business.’ Ever since then, I started booking more speakers and started putting an experience around it. That is when things started really heating up. We were formerly known as ‘Startup Bootkamp’ and became Kamp over time.

Q: What are the most common misconceptions among early-stage founders and entrepreneurs that Day Kamp looks to address?

A: Well, we go through a lot, it just depends on which Day Kamp you are coming to, to be honest with you. I can probably list out 100 different items right now, but some takeaways would be: one, not every startup is venture backable. That is probably the biggest one. The second one is, you do not need to potentially have millions of dollars in the bank to start a startup, now is the easiest time to start a startup in history. Three, even if your business is venture bankable, going back to number one, it does not matter because there is a lot of different options and choices for you. So, for instance, if you look at companies like Clearco, who were basically funding a shared revenue model for e-com (e-commerce) businesses, or businesses like Pipe that basically do a similar model for B2B businesses, or friends and family, or bootstrapping, or winning pitch contests or loans – there is a lot of different options. It is not always just ‘can I raise capital from investors?’ I think that a lot of founders just have blinders on, and they read TechCrunch too much and are just seeing all these huge wins of somebody raising you know, 15-, 30-, 100 million. Often, the answers are not as obvious, and founders need to look around and figure out what other options they have for sources of capital.

Q: What does it take to innovate in event planning and adapt to unforeseen circumstances?

A: With COVID, it was pretty tough. I think for the first maybe two or three weeks, it was more like just feeling sorry for myself, to be honest, as well as the uncertainty surrounding it. But, after you kind of get over that hump, you start to understand that this virus is probably not going to go away next week, even though you want it to. So, we had to adapt and do things virtually. We held virtual events for the Bootkamps, doing two half-days instead of one long day as we do in person. because I think that is a long time for someone to sit in front of a computer nonstop. There are pros and cons to doing virtual events. The cons are obviously, you do not have that human connection, it is not exactly the same. It is a little bit harder to build rapport, and there is sometimes a little awkwardness with some of the calls. On the other side, there are a lot of pros to an event planner doing it virtually. One of them is how easy it is to manage information. You can p