Jan Koch, the founder and host of WP Agency Summit, is kicking off his second annual event on October 12. The five-day event will feature 37 speakers from a wide range of backgrounds across the WordPress industry. It is a free virtual event that anyone can attend.

“The focus for the 2020 WP Agency Summit is showing attendees how to bring back the fun into scaling their agencies,” said Koch. “It is all about reducing the daily hustle by teaching how to successfully build and manage teams, how to work with enterprises (allowing for fewer customers but bigger projects), how to build sustainable recurring revenue, and how to position your agency to dominate your niche.”

This year’s event includes three major changes to make the content more accessible to a larger group of people. Each session will be available between October 12 – 16 instead of the previous 48-hour window that attendees had to find time for in 2019.

After the event has concluded, access to the content will be behind a paywall. Koch reduced the price to $77 for lifetime access for those who purchase pre-launch, which will increase to $127 during the event. Last year’s prices ballooned to $497, which meant that it was simply not affordable for many who found it too late.

Some of the proceeds this year are going toward transcribing all the videos so that hearing-impaired users can enjoy the content.

This year’s event will also focus on a virtual networking lounge for attendees. “I’ve seen how well it worked at the WP FeedBack Summit — we even had BobWP record a podcast episode on the fly in that lounge!” said Koch. “I’ve seen many new friendships develop, people connecting with new suppliers or getting themselves booked on podcasts, and sharing experiences about their businesses.”

The lounge will be open during the entirety of the summit, which will allow attendees to jump into the conversation on their own time.

A More Diverse Speaker Lineup

Koch received some backlash for the lack of gender diversity last year. The 2019 event had over 20 speakers from a diverse male lineup. However, only four women from our industry led sessions.

When asked about this issue in 2019, Koch responded, “I recognize this as a problem with my event. The reason I have so much more male than female speakers is quite simple, the current speaker line-up is purely based on connections I had when I started planning for the event. It was a relatively short amount of time for me, so I wasn’t able to build relationships with more female WP experts beforehand.”

The host said he paid attention to the feedback he received. While not hitting the 50/50 split goal he had for 2020’s event, 16 of the 37 speakers are women.

Koch said he strived to get speakers from a wider range of backgrounds. He wanted to bring in both freelancers and multi-million dollar agency owners. He also focused on getting people from multiple countries to represent WordPress agencies.

“I did reach out to around 130 people four months before the event to make new connections,” he said. “The community around the Big Orange Heart (a non-profit for mental well-being) also helped a lot with introducing me to new members of the WP community.”

Koch said he learned two valuable lessons when branching out beyond his existing connections for this year’s event:

Firstly, don’t hesitate to reach out to people you think will never talk to you because they’re running such big companies. For example, I immediately got confirmations from Mario Peshev from Devrix, Brad Touesnard from Delicious Brains, or Marieke van de Rakt from Yoast. When first messaging them, I had little hope they’d set aside time to jump on an interview with me – but they were super supportive and accommodating! The WordPress community really is a welcoming environment if you approach people in a humble way.

Secondly, build connections with sincerity. Do not just focus on what you can get from that connection but how you can help the other person. I know this sounds cheesy and you’ve heard this quite often — but it is true. Once I got the first response from new contacts and explained my goal of connecting fellow WordPress community members virtually, most immediately agreed because they also benefit from new connections and being positioned as a thought-leader in this event.

WP Agency Summit? WP FeedBack Summit?

For readers who recall the Tavern’s coverage of the WP FeedBack Summit earlier this year, the article specifically stated that the WP FeedBack Summit was a continuation of 2019’s WP Agency Summit. The official word at the time from WP FeedBack’s public relations team was the following:

Last year’s event, the WP Agency Summit has been rebranded under the umbrella of WP FeedBack’s brand when Jan Koch the host of last’s year WP Agency Summit joined WP FeedBack as CTO.

Koch said that it was a standalone event and not directly connected to WP Agency Summit but had the same target audience. However, the WP FeedBack Summit did use the previous WP Agency Summit’s stats and data to promote the event.

“The WP FeedBack Summit was hosted under the WP FeedBack brand because I joined their team as CTO in March this year,” he said. “Vito [Peleg] and I had the idea to host a virtual conference around WordPress because of WordCamp Asia being canceled — we wanted to help connect the community online through our summit.

Koch left WP FeedBack soon after the summit ended and is currently back on his own and has a goal of making WP Agency Summit a yearly event.