I really can't describe the excitement, enthusiasm and energy we had at the Parallax EXPO/UPEW this weekend. We had visitors from Europe, Asia and all over the USA and I'm fairly certain we exceeded 2,000 guests. I can't begin to express our appreciation for the guests and their contributions.
The event was designed to handle the UPEW crowd mostly inside, and the entire EXPO guests everywhere. Five large tents in the parking lot provided soldering projects, microcontroller programming stations, hands-on robotic play areas, tech presenters, vendors, three food trucks, and a variety of guests with their own projects. We toured at least 1,500 people through the facility on half-hour guided trips complete with live manufacturing processes, stories about success and failure in the business, and often ending with impressive first-person view quadcopter flights with large video projection inside the building. Kids got to start CNC machine production runs and the manufacturing crew had the pick-n-place machine opened up with safety override keys they made on the laser cutter. Boy Scouts were able to meet part of their merit badge requirements and we had the chance to share the business with the local community.
The Parallax crew and their entire families ran the show, bringing our team to around 70 people - all teaching, sharing, talking, and assisting customers throughout the day. I'm not sure how much money we raised for Placer County Food Bank, but whatever it was I'm sure we could have made it 4x bigger if the kids sold tickets, but they were already booked at productive places throughout the facility.
I didn't have an opportunity to get a drink of water or food during Saturday, but a customer (Fred Evangelisti, American River College) brought me a nice Tex-Mex mix from a food truck just to say "thanks, I know you won't get a chance to eat so here's lunch". My dad thought the lunch looked good and said "hey, do you have any money - I didn't bring lunch money!". I didn't have any cash because I gave it to the kids to get lunch, so I turned to Tracy Allen for $20.
Many parents provided sincere appreciation. They just weren't ready for an event like this where kids were a true beneficiary, where liability concerns were not the ruler of our activities, and where they thought they'd visit for an hour but stayed for three. We heard many magic-moment "thank you's" in which the exposure was launching new interests. For many of our team and customers, key childhood events influenced their choices as adults and we're thankful to be able to pay it back. Kids are welcome in our office all the time and we are fortunate to have a place where they want to go (a recent poll by our HR manager found that kids wanted to go to Parallax on Spring Break instead of Mexico. . . but a trip to Hawaii made them think twice).
The technical exchanges were significant and presentations looked productive. So badly I wanted to see presentations but I had the chance to meet with some product developers instead. Many business connections were made between guests, too. The amount of post-EXPO collaboration will be more significant than the event itself.
To thank all of the contributors would be impossible, so I'll just thank everybody, starting with Jeff Ledger and Lauren Davis, our Marketing Manager. Parallax thanks every participant in the event!