Even though a lot of events were getting canceled, I was invited to go speak at TrafficStation's local meetup. It was being held in Saint Petersburgh, Russia. I was very hesitant at first to go as there were a lot of concerns because of this COVID-19 that has been happening around the world.
In the end, I decided to go on very short notice. Propeller Ads were the ones that took care of me during this short notice and were able to even get the preparations in order from their government to get me in. Since I was doing a visa run from Vietnam and landed in the Philippines, I had to rush to the local Russian embassy to pick up my actual visa. It was definitely the last minute where when I picked up my visa I had to get on a flight right away.
In the end, it worked out. Natalia, the event coordinator helped me through this tight schedule and I was able to fly into Russia with no problem. I landed and just threw out a bat call saying I am in Saint Petersburgh, Russia and I met up with my network peers.
When I landed I met up with my buddy Roman, I did the intensive interview with him in Spain. I took like a good hour rest before I met up with him and we just discussed the stated of the industry. We drank and chatted about Saint Petersburgh and our businesses. Solid night, one thing it was super cold. Thanks, Roman for letting me borrow your jacket!
The next day was just a day of recovery before the Traffic Station meetup and I met up with Stan from Zorbas Media. They toured me around the office and we smoked shisha while everyone was working. I also want to thank them for this super high-quality sweater.
They have a solid team and great to have met them. I also found out there are several ad networks and traffic sources out in Russia. I wanted to tour Propeller Ads but I found out later they were based in Saint Petersburg.
Now on to the meetup! It was a great meetup and very well organized. This was an interesting event because it wasn't a meetup per se not was it a conference. It was something in the middle. The reason for this is because everything was set up as if it was a conference but small enough to be a meetup. They had over 300 sign-ups. Not only were there speakers to talk about the industry but food, games, prizes, etc.
It was a networking event that was fun to be at but good enough to network as well. This event happened on the 13th of March, 2020 and it was perfect timing before there was a constraint on how many people you can have in a building.
I kind of felt out of place because of the language barrier but I met some media buyers that spoke some English but Natalia made me feel super comfortable. There was an hour of networking before the first set of speakers spoke. I was the second speaker to speak and I think it did well.
I had a translator (Thanks Lera!), so prior to the event, we did a dry run to make sure we had a set pace for her to translate what I was saying. It was good that we did because I wanted certain messages to be more spoken than others.
After my time on stage, there were affiliates after that came and were more open to discuss their situations with me even with the lack of understanding, we understood traffic.
After about another hour of hanging around, I decided to head back to the hotel. I think I was still jet-lagged and needed a nap. I woke up and got ready to go to the after-party. Natalia and Stan from Zorbas Media came and got me from the hotel.
We then went to a brewery place and it was all reserved for the attendees of TrafficStation. It was a really nice place to be at and after a while, more and more affiliates wanted to network. Alcohol is an affiliate best friend.
There was a live band, blackjack tables, poker tables, and shisha! The best part was just everyone was having fun, networking and being themselves.
After all the fun and networking. I took the next day to explore Saint Petersburg. It was freezing but I managed through. I had a tour guide that showed me and educated me on the history of the city.
The city itself is amazing because the architect is just beautiful very European and no building over towers another. The churches in Saint Petersburg are HUGE! I thought those churches were government buildings of some sort.
We did a little more walking and certain areas another historic story was told. It was then time for lunch. We went to a restaurant that was I think Alexander Pushkin house or resembled his house.
I had traditional Russian Beet soup, which tastes just like a beef stew. I thought it would taste more like beets or something vegetable flavor but tasted like beef stew. I learned how Saint Petersburg went through years of famine. I learned the wars they went through, it was a lot of really good history.
After a bit, I got too cold and decided to get coffee and then head back to the hotel. I took a trolly back and it was a solid day of just hanging out in the city. Later that night I met up with Natalia and others for dinner and a clean night of shisha.
With that said I want to thank Propeller Ads for inviting me to speak on short notice. Most importantly, I want to thank Natalia for setting everything up. This girl works super hard and has the same attitude as me. Very well chaotic organized but get things done!
Thanks again Natalia for the invite and the hospitality.