My first LinkedIn invite was sent by a young businessman named Greg Cruikshank. He was listed as the founder of Labroots.
Not knowing a thing at the time about social media, I wanted to understand more about this site that expected me to type in my resume and share it with the whole world. And who was Greg Cruikshank and Labroots?
Starting in the industry as salesman for several of the bigger companies, Greg turned entrepreneur and has been pioneering the power of the internet and web 2.0 to disrupt and protect the life sciences. Labroots was one of the first social media sites in our industry, and their foray into virtual conferences under the name BioConference Live has been extremely successful.
“This is our fifth year, and we’re growing rapidly,” Don Cruikshank told me on the phone. He’s Greg’s father and a partner of Labroots.
When I heard from Greg after accepting his LinkedIn request, he was asking me to join his first BioConference Live (BCL) virtual conference. Book a virtual booth, he urged, and do lead generation without ever leaving your desk or office.
I was the marketing director for a lab consumables company at the time, and we regularly had booths at the bigger trade shows. I didn’t book a booth that year to the first BCL conference. But I attended. And picked up a great deal of helpful information. Listening to other science marketers. Seeing the companies in the exhibit hall, and going into the chatrooms. I was hooked.
BCL conferences are keynoted by great speakers--the same ones we hear at other conferences. And shows are sponsored by many of the top companies in the industry, including Roche, Siemens, and Thermo.
But the real big plus is that you can “attend” the event in the comfort of your own workstation, and if you miss any of the talks, they’re available in the archives for months. You’re not out a week from your own schedule making travel plans, booking a trip, flying, checking into hotels and the whole bit. Of course when you’re ready for a trip, by all means take it. I attend many conferences in person, but I still take advantage of this two day conference. For those who don’t want to or cannot travel, it’s perfect. You can walk through the “Expo Hall” and talk with the lead marketers of dozens of life science companies in personal or group chats.
This year BCL is expanding by dividing their generally titled Life Science Conference that has taken place for four years into three new conferences. (A disclosure is in order here. I’m on the advisory board for BioConference Live as of this past year. And why? Because I believe in the direction of this conference, and I want to witness first hand the transformation of the traditional conference.)
The first of the new conferences, Genetics and Genomics, is taking place August 21-22. The lineup of speakers includes George Church of Harvard, Drew Endy and Mike Snyder of Stanford, Paul Billings of Life Tech, and Charles Cantor of the blossoming Sequenom.
The second will be Cancer Research Discovery and Therapeutics and is set for October of this year. And the third is a Neuroscience conference next March.
And they are all free.
That such great content is becoming this easy to access--part of life in 2013. Does it cheapen the content? Does one have to attend in person to have it count?
Don Cruikshank points to our shrinking budgets.
“We began back during the ’08 recession and the virtual conference became popular. There are folks who want to collaborate, but can’t afford the travel.” He adds, “it is not our intent to replace the physical trade show.’
The company also relaunched their social media platform, www.labroots.com, this year. A longer list of resources on the left side menu including reviews and jobs and a webinar service is making it more attractive for life scientists to maintain yet another profile.