Apr 11, 2023
The Business of Meetings – Episode 161 – The Fabulous Story of VidCon with Colin Hickey
Today we are delighted to speak with a true entrepreneur, Colin Hickey! Colin is the Senior Vice President of Operations for VidCon and Paramount!
Colin’s career path has been a poster journey of American entrepreneurship, and VidCon is an amazing convention that brings up to 75,000 people to Anaheim each year!
Colin joins us today to share his phenomenal story!
Colin Hickey started as a music promoter turned entrepreneur and event manager who has made a mark in the industry with his innovative ideas and exceptional management skills. Starting his career as a music promoter in the early 2000s, he quickly made a name for himself and worked with various artists, venues, and performers.
In 2009, he co-founded Gatherboard, an event management and promotion platform that aimed to revolutionize how people discover and attend events. Gatherboard is still going strong today and has become a popular choice for event organizers and attendees alike.
From 2011-2013, he worked at the Missoula Downtown Association, as the Marketing and Events Director, contributing to revitalizing the downtown area and organizing several successful events.
In 2013, he was hired as the first full-time employee at VidCon, one of the world's largest conferences for online video creators and enthusiasts. His expertise and experience were instrumental in making VidCon a massive success and reaching new heights globally. He is currently Senior Vice President of Operations and co-leads the business globally.
With his passion for events and entrepreneurship, he continues to make waves in the industry, always striving for new and innovative ways to bring people together and create unforgettable experiences.
After spending half a semester at the University of Wyoming, Colin realized college was not for him. His brothers were heavily into the music scene in Missoula, Montana, and he was a small-time music promoter in Wyoming. A well-known club in Missoula was looking for someone to run it, so Colin moved to Montana in the summer of 2000 to run the club and become a music promoter. He ran the club for three years, became a singer in a band, began booking tours for bands, and started going on tours. That gave him the notion of doing live events.
Sometime in 2004 0r 2005, Colin had an idea for people to go online to find out what was happening in the local music scene and then created a website called Gardencityevents.com. It was a hit and was acquired shortly after by an online news company. Colin continued to run websites for events in local and surrounding areas for the news company for the next few years. That was how he met and made friends with Hank Green, the founder of VidCon.
One week before the VidCon convention in July 2013, Colin joined the VidCon team. A few weeks after the show, Hank told Colin they were parting ways with their production company and asked him to run VidCon and build a new team. VidCon kept growing, so they decided to expand internationally. Five years ago, Hank sold the company to Viacom, and they continued running in the same way as before but with more resources. Then Viacom merged with CBS and later rebranded as Paramount. About a year ago, Paramount made Colin a co-leader of the business.
The VidCon creators are approachable and relate well to the attendees because many are the same age. Many of the creators also grew up being fans!
Security at VidCon
The core VidCon fan-track attendee is between twelve and seventeen years old and most of them are female. Fans often get into places they should not be, so VidCon takes the security of the Anaheim Convention Center very seriously.
Advice for creators
Colin advises new creators to stay true to themselves, be consistent with their content, and to get onto multiple platforms. That will encourage more people to connect and follow them.
As new platforms arise, different kinds of creators surface to join them. The VidCon team likes that because it makes VidCon more diverse.
The in-person experience
Colin feels that the experience of an in-person event can never be replicated via the metaverse, no matter how life-like the virtual experience may be.
It can be difficult for parents to juggle their professional and family lives. Colin feels lucky to have children who are interested in and enjoy what he does. He likes to teach them about the business and tries to get them even more invested in the show.
Connect with Eric
Connect with Colin Hickey