Serendipity, or how we've organised a tech conference for 250 people in just 2 months

Serendipity, or how we've organised a tech conference for 250 people in just 2 months

My favourite word recently is "serendipity".

Serendipity is the luck some people have in creating interesting or valuable things by chance.

How could three people who barely knew each other and were from different cities pull off a conference in two months?

Kongres Next.js conference is over. We've welcomed nearly 250 people and had 14 excellent talks in Warsaw on February 2, 2024. You can find the agenda here and read our Transparency Report about tickets, speakers, costs and income.

I also invite you to read Aleksandra's recap of the event, where she uniquely pinpoints all the good and bad things about the event. But my article is slightly different; I wanted to tell a story about trust, friendship, collaboration, and randomness.


So, serendipity. The origin story behind Kongres Next.js goes back a few years back when a Twitter user DM'ed me and praised one of the Open Source projects I was working on. That user was Jakub "Zaiste" Neander. We didn't know each other. To be honest, I've never even heard of him, despite his quite popular tech YouTube channel Zaiste Programming.

At that time, I was at my peak popularity in Poland after just releasing a book about TypeScript. I got tons of messages from people daily, and frankly, I was a bit tired of it. Yet, for some reason, I was in a perfect mood that day, so I quickly replied to Zaiste. What I thought was yet another irrelevant message from a fan turned out to become a collaboration that would go on for years. It was just completely random. Or was it?


Being deeply involved in the TypeScript community, I quickly learned about Aleksandra Sikora. First, I found her blog. Then, I found her public initiatives. Without any exaggeration, Aleksandra is one of the most influential people involved in TypeScript on the Globe. I was astonished at how well Aleksandra was known worldwide, yet not at all in Poland. She was, to me, what Ariana Grande is to teenagers: an untouchable star.

However, one day, I just randomly reached out to her. I can only fantasize how many messages she gets every day from random geeks like me, so you can imagine my surprise when she replied almost instantly. And was she friendly and approachable! My hit-or-miss one-in-a-thousand DM eventuated into her being my guest in Breakfast with Programming (pol. Śniadanie z Programowaniem) YouTube talk show. Later, we met IRL during a TypeScript Wrocław meetup that the company I was working for was sponsoring (what are the odds?!). We quickly became not only colleagues but, I guess, friends.

Meetup Next.js

Jakub and I started collaborating on a Next.js cohort-based online course. We've produced and sold four homemade editions, and when Next.js 13 was released, we decided to go full professional: start from scratch, focus on App Router, rerecord everything, and work with a well-qualified video-producing company, Brave Courses.

A bit of context: Zaiste has 10 new ideas every second, to most of which I instantly say bluntly "NO". One day, he just randomly said, "Let's start this edition of the course with a meetup". My thoughts were, "No, this is stupid, it's not enough time, it doesn't make sense, I'd rather not", so I indifferently answered, "Yeah, let's do that", hoping he'd just forget about it in a few hours. Well, spoiler alert, he didn't.

It was almost the end of November 2023, and we were meeting with some friends in Warsaw. I randomly remembered attending a conference in a small and cosy cinema in 2016. We called them. It was available to rent on the day Zaiste wanted to organise the meetup, and it was surprisingly affordable. We've booked it immediately and got the balls rolling. How random?

Kongres Next.js

The clock was ticking; we had just around 60 days to organise and prepare everything with the holiday season in the middle. We were brainstorming about good speakers we could've invited, and I instantly thought of Aleksandra. She rejected my request to speak at the event, but she offered so much more: she'd help us organise it and reach out to many renowned speakers from Europe that she personally knew. We also changed the idea from a local meetup to something way more ambitious: an international conference.

To make matters even more complex, the conference was supposed to happen in Warsaw, as we thought it was the best tech hub in Poland, but none of us live there – we all had about a 4-hour drive to the venue.

We've built the website in a few hours, guessed proper ticket prices, integrated Stripe… Not more than two days later, we were ready to start the presale, and Aleksandra officially joined the conference board. Everything that happened during the next two months was either by sheer luck, through our friends' help, or by YOLO'ing it.

5 days before the event, I thought, "Oh no, we forgot about the badges 😱". So Ola and I designed them in Figma in one hour. I ordered some recycled paper, and my wife printed and cut them to the proper sizes.

3 days before the event, I thought, "Wait, we don't have lanyards for the badges 🫠". Panicking, I made a few calls and found a company in Warsaw that would deliver 300 eco-paper lanyards to our hotel the day before the conference.

Trust and friendship

I'm talking a lot about what I've done; what did Jakub and Aleksandra do? Well, a lot of other things! Took care of speakers, venue, lunch… But the most beautiful aspect of our cooperation was our complete trust in each other. Despite my anxiety and being a total control freak, I felt I didn't need to check on them, ask every other day whether things have progressed, and that they're doing the best they can. I didn't even need to know precisely what they were up to because I could've blindly trusted them. Each of us was able to make calls independently, and we consulted on more significant decisions. Without any pretentiousness, I think it was the most perfect teamwork I have ever experienced.


How did the event go? Not without problems, obviously. But all in all, it was great. The atmosphere of coziness, unbelievable meetup vibes, 14 incredible talks, fantastic networking, and a lively after-party.

Is there a moral to this story? It's truly shocking how many random things had to coincide for this event to happen. So, I guess the moral of this story is that the best things in life happen by accident. Serendipity.

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