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

Updated: Apr 7

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.


From the Editor: Kamp had a successful 2021 as it ventured to Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Miami and expanded its reach to more founders in Texas and throughout the country. Phil and the Kamp team will be back in Dallas on April 9.

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.

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.

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.

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 put it on a screen, you can show them specific things really easily, you can share files, etc. Also, on the back end, it was great because we were able to really focus on building a bigger brand, not just from a branding perspective, but also getting great speakers because now they are more accessible. I do not have to fly somebody out from Miami to New York to do an hour speech and they are staying in a hotel, and you know trying to figure out the planning situation. But, with virtual, they literally just log onto a computer. So, a lot of what used to be no’s, you know, two, three years ago for people speaking, all of a sudden turn to yeses. What happens with that is, once you start getting speakers like that over and over and over, you are building your brand. Just to give an example, later this week we have David Sacks who co-founded PayPal, who is speaking at one of our events, that would have been impossible two or three years ago just because our branding was not what it is today, and virtual events were not as prominent. Even though there are a lot of negative things that went along with COVID, the glass is half-full with me because definitely there definitely are positive things and you just have to innovate.

Day Kamp hosts events all over the country, why is it important for your organization to come to Texas?

A: Entrepreneurship is certainly thriving in Texas, especially in the metropolitan areas like San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, etc. We actually did an event in Austin a few years back at Capital Factory and it was a huge hit. I knew that at some point I wanted to do Dallas, and I happened to be passing through on a road trip on October 2nd, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to put on the Dallas event, and we most certainly will be returning.

In your eyes, what does the future hold for Day Kamp?

A: Right now, we are at 4500, and we will hit 5000 founders helped by January 1st for sure. So, increasing those numbers is the obvious answer, but the not so obvious answers are the things that are kind of going on, I guess you can call it under the hood, that are working towards a few bigger initiatives. One of those being our opening of chapters. So, that means that we would have a representative basically in each city that we open up a chapter in, and they will be facilitating, executing, and moderating some of these events, but they will utilize our brand. We will get some really great speakers and we will provide the experience, and obviously cover the cost and all that. This person would be able to basically do what we do, except in their local community. So, help entrepreneurs progress with events, but in Dallas or in Austin or in Phoenix or in New York or wherever. So that is one of the bigger initiatives. The second one is, we are going to launch a 10-week course, probably mid next year. This course is going to basically be somewhat like the events that we do except it is like a program, so it will be 10-weeks long instead of just one day, and the people who are going to be teaching this course are going to be modern-day entrepreneurs, only. So, no teachers and professors or anything like that, it will be the people that literally, you know, just raised their series D, or exited, or is just really prolific in the space of startups and VC. It will be modern-aged seasoned founders who just want to give back to the next wave of hungry early-stage founders. Conceptually, I believe this notion is extremely beneficial because the speakers bring relevancy, unlike an MBA college professor who hasn't been an entrepreneur in 30 years. We will have two kinds of programs; one being before funding since usually, the main attraction is trying to obtain capital. The second kind of program will be post-funding, and that means when you receive capital, a lot of first-time founders are unsure what to do with it. Our intimate programs at Kamp will help them learn how to deploy the capital efficiently because they are stepping into unmarked territories. This is in the best interest of the founders, their team, and investors.

Day Kamp's next event will take place in Dallas on October 2, 2021, do not miss this opportunity to connect, learn, and grow.

You can grab your spot here and use code 'TXI' for 20% off of your ticket purchase.


Looking for more information?

Click here to learn more about the Day Kamp Startup Workshop in Dallas, Texas.

Click here to download the startup toolkit from Kamp.

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