Microsoft Conference 2015

Microsoft, Barcelona, 5000 people is what happened last week. After an overwhelmingly successful Microsoft Empowering Us All film on our Growing Underground farm, back in October, Microsoft then asked us to join them as a keynote speaker at the annual Microsoft Convergence Conference. This year the event was held at Fira de Barcelona Gran Via.

It was such an honour to be asked alongside such successful larger businesses such as Real Madrid, Pandora, Jumeirah Hotels and Metro Bank.

Our Growing Underground co-founder Richard happily accepted the invite to give the talk. Then came the cold hard facts, he was to be giving two talks; the main one to an auditorium that was to hold 5000 delegates, aka the largest audience he has ever addressed, it was getting kind of daunting.

But there wasn’t much time to be anxious before he knew it he was dragging his suitcase at 4am on a cold dark dreary Monday morning to Heathrow! Soon enough, as if by magic this very sky had transformed into the beautiful blue skies of Barcelona. However this was quickly replaced by the spotlights of the conference auditorium as the intense schedule for the three day conference hit full swing.

Day 1 was The Microsoft Executive Hosted Dinner – Business Leadership Experience at the beautiful and historic La Llotja De Mar, the centrepiece of the city’s medieval stock exchange. This invite for a select few and Richard was one of these few. He half expected ‘your name’s not down, you’re not coming in’ (or the Spanish equivalent) at the door but thankfully that didn’t happen. Welcoming the guests into the stunning gothic building was a rather civilised string quartet. After mingling with the other guests, Richard was seated down to dinner at a table of speakers and company executives from around the globe.

Day 2 Watching many inspiring keynote talks and it was fantastic for Richard to be in room full of people who were all also excited about future technology. He then gave a practice run of his talk with the Microsoft team before heading out that evening to super club Pacha Barcelona which Microsoft had hired out for a delegates drinks reception. Needless to say he left early given the fact he was the opening keynote speaker at 9am the following morning!

Day 3 A super early start and pumped as the first keynote speaker of the day, Richard tried to not think of the 5000 pairs of eyes that would soon to be staring back at him! Backstage at the Gran Via he and the other keynote speakers stood by as Neil Holloway, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, introduced the auditorium to the topic of the day before saying ‘run the film’. The ‘film’ by the way being the Growing Underground Microsoft film and also Richard’s cue to enter the stage. Neil kicked off by asking Richard to elaborate to the audience the concept Growing Underground. After conversing with Neil on the farm, it’s sustainability and role in the future of food and technology, twenty minutes was soon bookended with applause.

Meanwhile Twitter was on fire with delegates from the conference tweeting some rather fabulous comments about Richard’s keynote talk and the Growing Underground farm. And incidentally; trumpet, own, blowing – the Growing Underground social media came 5th Top Contributor reporting on the Microsoft Convergence Conference ?

All in all a great few days at the conference, Richard met some awesome people doing amazing things on the future of tech. Now he’s back in London, feet very firmly back underground, running the farm…