Introduction

This is a transcript of this January 30, 2013 video stream of I-Con's runthrough of why the 32nd edition of this science fiction convention was canceled. I'm going to Dragon Con this year, so I thought I should do a little something for local fandom. Sucks that I decided to start yesterday, as typing this much really hurts, man!
I'll flesh it out later, as I rushed through and likely missed a lot of subtle minutiae. I'll likely also add some highlights or maybe put this in a wiki or something. For now, it's all I have left to paste it in a regular html file and leave it for folks to find. :)
Super sorry about spelling of names. They'll be on the fix list for after I recover from the two day drive back home next week. And I didn't start recording names until a few minutes in, also to be fixed. Also tons of typos. Maybe I'll keep those in to annoy the English majors.

Salient Points

Note: Rumours still abound that I-Con suffered from attendance drops which lowered their financial capabilities. I can pretty categorically state (from what was said at this meeting) that something like this did not lead to I-Con being postponed/canceled. I should also note that I have frequently discussed the matter with people who work at I-Con, and the impression I've been given is that the last year was in the ~6000 zone that most I-Cons tend to gravitate around and that only the year that they had the convention at Suffolk Community College saw a dip from the prior year. I don't have hard numbers that can back it up, though. It would be really great if somebody from I-Con could make public the basic attendance numbers (either tickets or warm bodies) for the last five or so conventions. Being open and sharey about the facts was a big point of this meeting being transcripted here, and having those numbers would help to dispell -- or confirm -- some rumours out there.

Transcript

Good evening, anybody watching. I'm IT Director Aaron Pellman-Isaacs. If you can't hear me properly, or if you can't see properly, any technical questions, email it@iconsf.org, I'll keep an eye on my emails
to moment there are 1920 views
oh
going up
so for those that can now hear us, we are waiting for one more person to get back to the table, and then we'll get started.
then I have my
any questions in the process of watching this live secretary@iconsf.org. I'm watching it, and if we have a chance to answer questions, I'll be distributing them.
Jeff Warner asked if meeting notes will be posted for this list on the I-Con Staff List. Not sure.
I'm gonna type up meetings. We're probably going to review them before we post them, or at least the officers... I'll try to get that available for anyone interested. And if you're interested after the meeting, email me and I'll ... just send them out or send the link out.
So now that everyone's at the table, I gues smaybe we'll start by introducing ourselves since we're sitting on this side of the room.
Dave Cortiz on this side is our acting event chair of I-Con, at this point I-Con 32. To my right is Vince Collura, our President of ICON Science Fiction. Myself, I'm Katrina Lovett, the vice chair of marketing for ICON. *laughter and cacophany*
I'm Jenn Giuressi, I'm Vice President.
And I'm Sarah Gorchak, secretary.
Vince: I just want to make sure the room's aware it's sort of changing our plan moderately. We have to be out at 8:30 today, is that right guys?
???: We have to be out by 8:45, start packing up by 8:30.
Vince: Okay, cool, awesome. So my initial intention was before we actually start the meeting formally is to go around the room and sort of get names of people
here and understand, are you guys long term members or dealers or somethign
don't have the time for it
but
familiar faces. Jack, thank you very much for the direction, and I think we'll just kind of get started. And I'm going to look to these guys to steer me back on course if I go off course because I have a habit of doing that. Purpose of this meeting is really to kick off and set a better precedent for communication with the people who genuinely care about I-Con. That can be members, that can be dealers, that can be staff. Any or multiple of those. So this meeting is something we put together as a platform to bring you guys up to speed as to where things are at. so we're briefly going to go through "How did we get to where we are?", "what are our plans to move forward?", and then handle Q&A. Did I miss a point or anything?
Dave, others: Noo
Vince: Cool then, awesome. So how did we get to where we're at?. You guys are all aware that we've indefinitely postponed I-Con 32, right? Cool, okay. So how did we get to where we're at? Ultimately, it boils down to finances seconded by logistics. Everyone is pretty much aware that we lost Stony Brook for this year and the next three years if I understand correctly as a potential venue. Yesno? So with that said, I-Con has traditionally been the recipient of a sweetheart deal from Stony Brook in the sense that they made it very easy for us for thirty one years to do business with them in a certain way. And that ways is as follows: Most of the costs of the convention are due at or after the convention, which works really well with I-Con's current or previous business model of making all of our money for the most part in a three-day period of time. Unforutnately, seems that nobody else in the world does much business in that sort of manner, so many of the newer venues we're looking at or talking to including Hofstra that we'd finally decided upon, they required a bunch of front. And a bunch meaning all of it ultimately thirty days before the convention. If you guys want the finer points of that we can talk about that but I-Con is an expensive convention. It costs no less venue-wise than $115 thousand dollars, and I'm going to look over here to see if Dave's nodding to tell me it should be more.
Dave: When he says $115 thousand dollars, that's venue costs
Jenn?: That's just the location
Dave: That's not feeding anybody, that's not flying anybody in , that's not paying anybody guest fees, , and taht doesn't accoutn for T-shirts or Program Books or Pocket Schedules, the logistics of maintaining the organization, or anything else. That's simply venue costs, it's well over a hundred thousand dollars..
Vince: Which is slightly more than I have available in the I-Con bank account right now, and by slightly I mean orders of magnitude, 12 times. I-Con as a business runs very close to the convention. We make all our money and we spend all our money in a short period of time. If we have really good convention, we're left over with some money left over. If we don't have such a profitable convention, we don't have a lot left over. So with that said, 31 was -- I'm going to pretend that while I'm walking as I'm talking nobody notices taht I'm going away -- <chatter> 31 was a nice convention. It was a successful convention in many ways. It was financially pretty successful, but it wasn't successful enough to propel us to where we need to be for 32. In fact, no I-Con in history that I'm aware of has ever generated funds on the order of magnitude that we would need for I-Con 32. So we started off after I-Con 31 with a bunch of plans. You guys know what happens with plans? Man proposes, the economy in this case disposes... So we have a lot of fundraising plans and a lot of efforts that were dependence on a lot of factors and a lot of those fell short. A lot of that is right here, right in promotion and stuff like that. And honestly we lost a lot of team members in our first cuople months. So when we started to go down that route, shortly after I-Con 31, after we had our member meeting, we said "All right! Here are our plans, we're going to have these plans, and come October, and come December again, we're going to show how those plans are forming". Which ultimately December ebcomes a cut-off. If we went any further than we went down the I-Con 32 path, we would be stuck kind of with whatever bills or contracts we committed to. So in December we had our review of where things were at and we looked long and hard. We trimmed I-Con down to...
Jenn: Nothing
Vince: Yeah, I mean, I can't call it skeleton. It was like a child skeleton, if that. Right, it was... we removed plenty of programming, we removed -- you know, we're not thieving anybody, paying for anybody's hotel...
Jess: Staff ??? was going to have T-shirts
Vince: Yeah, yeah, Tishirts
Jenn: Program books, we took out everything.
Vince: and ultimately, we said "Okay. Let's say that this trimmed down version of I-Con is viable. Can we run it? WE have X y and z in the bank now, we need a b and d in the bank by March 31st, and preregistration -- March 1 -- and preregistration is at... preregistration wasn't terrible, but ultimately it meant that March 1st, we started out with a negative... what is the deficit, like thirty something?
Dave: More
Vince: Okay, um, it was a fairly substantial deficit, which means it was not viable.
Dave: The reason for that March 1 cutoff is as vince mentioned thirty days prior to the event when we have to have all the over head cost paid to the venue. So what we needed to look at is when we have to write that last check and that check needs to clear prior to the event, will we have enough money in the bank for that check to clear. And that may be an oversimplification for a lot of people but realistically we needed to look at whether or not we were going to be financially viable a month out from the event. When we get close to prereg closing, ad sales are done, dealer sales are done, where can be realistically take? And we ran through various scenarios around that and depending on the scenario we were anywhere between thirty and sixty thousand dollare short of where we needed to be. Not to put too fine a point on it, that's too much money. You know, we're not talking about five or ten grand, we're not even talking about a couple hundred bucks, we're talking about tens of thousands of dollars, and we needed to make a decision very quickly.
Vince: I went through denial for a little while. Right, I question Dave's numbers, I didn't talk to anybody for about 48 hours, and the variance there is negligible. at the end of the day, yeah, maybe we could have trimmed it more and got twenty-eight thousand dollars... it's still twenty eight thousand dollars short. Worse than that, though, is should we have been able to scrape together that much. Let's say we got everybody in this room to pitch in $1500. And it's kind of crazy, but say tha thappened. The bigger impact is that icon 32 in 2013 would have been our last icon, because havinghad that icon with that cost and that lack of startup funds leaves us with even less in 2013 to deal with so we could have been able to make a con, maybe put it on somebody's credit card but at the end of the day it wouldhave been it for icons to come and obviously that's not what anybody wants. if i could think of things on my not wanted list , not having i-con in 2013 is pretty high up on there, but even higher is ruining the con and ensuring that there's no more I-Con. So we made the tough decision, and we decided to postpone it. When we talk about timing on it, it was at the very last feasible sort of minute where we could start to get some of our funds back, and that was a little bit of a gamble. <laughter and such>
So we took it down to the wire, because we had a couple hail marys and stuf like that, and it wasn't going to happen. Now, you know: What were our fundraising efforts, who is no longer around, wtc, etc... there's 25 different answers there, if I spent tonight talking, it would take so much time that we'd get kicked out of here and you'd have half of those answers. There's a lot factors, there's a lot of people on longer with the organization, adn the current pain and whatnot that hit hit a lot of peopel very hard. So while Hofstra as a facility was not _____, and I-Con didn't crumble to the ground, when I lose two board members out of seven active team members for an entire month, and myself: I'm dealing with my own business, and other people here are offline for a week or two at a time, it's the straw, the ____ straw that breaks the camel's back. You, know, it's one thing to proceeed without money, because people can donate money, but people -- and we dont' have money -- we got nothing.
Dave: People making people is a much longer process.
Vince: So that's how we got where we got, where we are today. I don't know if we-- I mean is there any remaining else to clarify there?
Jenn: Any questions regarding how we got to that decision before we move on?
*PAUSE*
Dave: Everybody understands.
Audience: So losing two people for a month ruined the whole convention?
Vince: Losing two people for a month was another factor. Again, we've got seven or either people responsible for everything here.
Audience: It's not possible to replace the people?
Vince: Anybody is replaceable in theory, but do you have those people waiting at the ready? Do you have them up to speed with that person's responsibilities? There's a lot of things like that. Everybody here -- and I mean eveyrbody here like staffers, too -- you guys and we all take on a lot of responsibility, and ultimately, could I live without Katrina? And lets just say that Katrina's only responsibility is marketing. <laughter> We'll make that hypothetical. Yes, I can absolutely replace Katrina. However, that happening within a week or two weeks? One, probably not going to happen. And then two, the amount of time it take for somebody to get up to speed, get her accounts on line, get access to everything else, every one of those things takes a lto of time. Yeah, I know, as much as it sucks to say, losing a couple people for a while was an additional factor. Losing people for a while prevented me from doing two different fundraisers. And when we're talkign about funds being a primary issue, it's a straw.
Dave: Just another note on that. Becuse it's a valid quetion. The issue isn't losing two people per se. I- it was more than two people when all was said and done. But the path forward that we had had when we first started looking at this in June was "we're going to have a handful of people who are working on certain initiatives to raise funds. And one person spearheading that, another person's on this other realm working on the event, another person's over here making sure those logistics are in place, this persons oer here working on contracts, everybody's sort of got their ???? for working on, and then you say the person who's spearheading this initiative is no longer with the organization and people they were working with are n't fully up to speed, and one person leaves, and what happens is this is sort of the nature of large? organizations, there's sort of this ripple effect, where people question what's going on and whether or not there's bad blood and why did the person really leave and so on and so forth and you spend a lot of time and effort and energy answering that questions as opposed to picking up the slack where you can, and the problem with that is after the first person leaves you lose a second person and a third person, and you're at a point where the people who you still have are trying to recruit and at the same time trying to pick up all of that slack and they're getting worn ???. I have been in that boat over the past several months, it's not the first time I've been there eitehr at I-Con or anywhere else to be honest. And it's a very crappy situation to be in. Now, the fact of the matter is when we were really going through that, which was basically through parts of Sep and Oct, we were finally getting to a point where we felt comfortable about really pushing for more preregistration and really pushing on the dealers side and we had started moving that process forward, and we had finally got paper contracts and finally got that in place. And then we got hit with a hurricane, and I can tell you that while most people don't see my name floating out there every day, there's a lot that I do behind the scenes that helps grease the wheels for the organization, and I was without power for a week. Now that didn't take me out of the organization entirely, but it make it a lot harder for me to do what I needed to do. There were a lot of people in the organization who were without power for five days to three weeks and dealing with all those logistics, and frankly I need to worry about whether I'm safe and healthy and my family's safe and healthy before I worry about whether or not there's going to be an I-Con, and alot of people ________. By the time we took a step back and said "Okay, where were we at?", it was mid-November, because the hurricane hit us at the end of October, and now we're at mid-November, we got a contract, we got preregistration moving... great! But now we have to start over the process that we tried to start three or four weeks prior in terms of pushing that prereg and pushing the dealer recruitment, so we ended up sort of behind the 8 ball timeline-wise where ew needed to be for funds. That said, those funds weren't going to make or btreak whether or not I-Con would be back. We're talking about a difference of somewhere between five and ten thousand dollars. But it's also hard to turn aroudn to the local community after a hurricane hits and say "You know what, we're short on funds, could you guys donate some money so we could hold a con. When people are watching commercials every twenty minutes about "Could you donate to the Red Cross?", because peopel died . So kind of quietly and unconsciously, we avoided that scenario as an organization until we got to the beginning of December, we started looking at the numbers. And when we looked at the numbers, it took us a while to really accept the fact that they weren't gelled?. So it took a couple of meetings over the week, a couple of meetings over the course of about a week to get everybody on the same page before even considering making the decision. And then we had to first make the decision and communicate that and a big part of that was ____. so the output to the membership is "All of a sudden I-Con is canceled", which isn't the case -- it's postponed. We're planning on holding I-Con 32 once we get all the pieces back in place. But realistically our entire region is rebuilding at a level that we can't turn around to our membership base which is 60% Suffolk, 30% Nasau, give or take 5% on either side, and the rest further West in the city, and a few people coming in from Jersey. We don't have a fan base out in California that we could tap, that we could say "Hey, can you throw us some bucks?" So this confluence of events at what is supposed to be our peak fundraising time really bit us, and that's no one person's fault. And really did not have a contingency for that because frankly non profits are really bad at contingency planning, because the nonprofit has the ability to say "you know, we can't do this", and nobody's losing money as a result. you know, we're not stopping somebody from getting paid, we're not a private business where people get salaried, so that's less of a concern for us. For me, the biggest concern that I have is making sure that the people we work with year in and year out are: Safe first, have a roof over their head second, and then ____ worry about the con. So I think that fleshes out a little bit of what you're asking about, I don't know if it fully answers the question about ____ people, but we did lose some people that were key to the organization that were in key roles at the time. And like Vince said, everybody is replaceable to some degree,
Kat: But it takes time.
Dave: But it takes time. TEaching somebody everything tha tI know about I-Con would take a long time.
Vince: So you know, just to kind of put a point on all of that: No one factor that we've mentioned was the end, right? This was a series of very large hits for the organization at a time where the organization needed to person at a far different level than we ever performed. So yes, if I died tomorrow <stuff> If I left tomorrow, would I-Con carr on? Absolutely. No one person, no one event, is what killed the convention. What killed the evention this year, causing us to postpone it, was the series of events we just kind of went through. Does that answer your question?
Audience: More or less.
Vince: Cool. So any other questions about how we got here?
Jim: One, how would ???? as a result of I-Con not being salvageable? ??? Two, is there anything making so that no one ???
Vince: No, that's not what I said at all. I'll answer Two then One. First off, name?
Jim: Jim
Vince: Hey Jim. So what Jim asked: first question he asked is as far as how would, you know, taking a con cancel or put icon as a compnay affect us in the future? Dave will answer that, I'm going to answer the second point about people. As I said, when I say nobody's irreplaceable, I do mean that. But when we're down to the wire as far as critical time frames go, at a certain point people become less easy to replace. When our current salary offering for let's say say webmaster is zero dollars, an I-Con T-shirt, respect among peers, it's not a very competitive offer, and when people are quite clearly looking to stay alive to fix their homes and manage their jobs, those people are few and far between that would volunteer themselves.
Jim: ???
Vince: Certain roles, yes, absolutely. And there are already acting certain levels of that, absolutely. That's going to be expanded. ??? that kind of answers the question. To a certain extent yes,a President has a Vice President, Marketing has people under her, IT is a multi-level sort of section... <turns to Katrina> Oh, you have people?
Kat: <points> I've gone _____ sitting over there, and ____ is in the back.
<laughter>
Vince: Yes, ultimately.
Dave: Regarding the sort of redundancy. I-Con is unfortunately in a period where it's had a lot of staff turnover over the last few years. And we need to work on two things with regards to that. One is staff retention, and the other is staff ____. In regards to staff...
Jim: ???
Dave: So realistically what it comes down to is when we can't - when we're having problems filling out the organizational structure in the first place, it's kind of hard to designate somebody to be secondary on a role when they're already stretched too thin?
Jim: ???
<laughter>
Vince: So I think what I'd like to do just to keep things moving -- I think that sufficiently answers that question...
Dave: Yes, but...
Vince: Now getting to the ....
<cacophay>
Dave: Now as far as-- sorry, what was the other question?
Jim: How do we ruin I-Con by ????
Dave: Oh, how do we ruin...
Jim: That was the one part that didn't make sense.
Dave: Sure it did. So-- and I'm using these as strawman numbers -- understand that when we put together the convention a portion of the budget is used specifically for providing for staff. So that's everything from, to use the Stony Brook example, meal tickets, T-shirts, making sure we have sufficient supplies like program books and pocket schedules for them to have copies, as opposed to just ??? methods, as well as all the supplies we need to get the job done, sufficient staff to ??? that happen. The staff crash rooms, and various other things. The dollar amount for that adds up. For a convention that for a given year could cost us $220 thousand dollars to run, $20 thousand of that may be just for staff maintenance. Now I don't have the numbers in front of me ??? if they threw them that would be ridiculous, but if you think about it, that $20k not being there leads to some very bad will. The scenarios that we looked at, the way that we gfot to only being $30k in the hole instead of 50 or 60 thousand was cutting all out those staff perks away.
Kat: Cutting above and beyond that.
Dave: Yeah, and we cut past that. So whereas a staff person at I-Con 31 would have gotten a T-shirt, and would have gotten meal tickets, and would have worked probably 12 hours for the con, what we likely would have needed to do for I-Con 32 was staff is now working 16 hours and gets nothing for their trouble besides the badge. Now we looked at that number and we said if we do that then for I-Con 33 there's going to be a lot less staff coming back. On top of that, in order to get to those numbers, we had to trim programming significantly, we had to trim space significantly, and by trimming programming I mean cutting out entire tracks. So I-Con stops being I-Con at a certain point.
Kat: We took out the green room, we took out program books.
Dave: Yeah, we think we were feeding a handful of guests, and that was it. We eliminated the banquet, we eliminated a whole lot of other things, so the reason that we get there to the point where making I-Con 32 would make I-Con 33 not happen is we stopped being basically what we think of as I-Con.
Vince: Or at least at the level I-Con should be at. We'll take the next question in a second; I just want to round off his point, though: There's another concern that kind of sits even above that. Insofar as I-Con has a certain reputation, and we have a certain expectation from both our members and our dealers. So the I-Con that was viable at the only 30 to 60 thousand dollar short range would far underperform and what we were talking about as membership numbers would have been been smaller than what's expected. So the effects of that, like if you could imagine -- and I don't know if he have any dealers here today -- but you could imagine being a dealer, you've been to I-Con for ten years, you consistently see a convention of five to six thousand people, clearly engaged, plus all the autographs and signers and everything else, and now we have a far smaller convention with way less going on, a less engaged audience and frankly a smaller member base That's going to burn the dealers, and those guys are going to hurt, so those guys we're putting there their money and time to be part of I-Con... they're not coming back next year, or a big percentage of them aren't. Dealers and members understand the problems, but when you underdeliver at that level, you're cutting down future membership base. I hope that answers...
???: ???. I understand why it happened. What can you do to help it continue? And I don't know if you're comfortable about this, but I ????
Vince: Stony Brook as a facility is going through a ton of renovations for the next -- is it three years, Dave?
Dave: Something like three years.
<everybody talking at once>
Vince: No, it's the facilities, like the SAC
Kat: The Sports Complex where we have the dealers room, which is the only space on campus large enough to have the dealers room is under renovations...
Dave: They're redoing that entire section of the facility...
Kat: So it would be unavailable to us for the next three plus years.
???: So it wasn't like they didn't like the con and we don't want it ???.
Vince: No
???: There was a rumour...
Kat: No.
Dave: They actually, they specifically contacted us about trying to seeing what else they could do . Frankly...
???: To stay?
Dave: To stay. And frankly there isn't a facility on site that could hold even half the dealers that we hope .
???: ??? care about I-Con know that ??? thinking what people could ???
Vince: We pissed off Stony Brook and we ruined that relationship... no, that's
Kat: They're very very
???: ?????
<cacophany>
???: So maybe disseminating that information sould bode well for I-Con.
Vince: Sure
???: We have a wonderful relationship with Stony Brook, we will be back, they love us, but in the ???? It can't hurt to ??? confirm the fact that I-Con ??? Stony Brook that will be back hopefully ???
Dave: We'll get to how we help in a minute, but one thing to note is right now we're kind of working on a skeleton crew in terms of getting things done because with-- honestly not everyone needs to know every dollar amount on every account just to figure out how everything's going, but because of that a lot of our resources are on that right now to make sure that we can write checks to things like vendors and refund members, so trying to make sure we've disseminated the information about what's going on with Stony Brook is at the moment a less of a concern because [not] clearing up that rumour is frankly not going to frankly get us sued, not cutting a check to a dealer might.
Kat: And to cover that fact, we did actually on our website and blog and through our facebook and twitter we did post a message saying if memory served late august early September about why exactly we moved, why we had to leave Stony Brook, and it kind of does go for a lot of what we did say, about the renovations and things like that.
Dave: But ??? the question, I think it's a valid point, but I think we need to get the information out again...
Kat: no, I know...
<stuff>
Dave: People will actually make up facts in the absence of new ones.
Vince: ...really good point that I'd like to knock out and then move on to how we move forward. Information has been fairly sparse, and I'm primarily one of the parties that's figuring out what we can say when, and part of the reason information has been sparse is because there has been up until now a lot of question marks. So yes we decided in December that we could not have I-Con at Hofstra in 2013. We could not have I-Con at all. But it required us to do a lot of negotiation of contracts and these are sensitive topics, and when it comes to renegotiation of contracts, very honestly Hofstra is a great example. Hofstra has a lot of I-Con's money that was used to secure the facility and we need to go renegotiate a contract -- contracts aren't exactly... they don't really give you great terms for cancellation. So we needed to be very careful about how we communicated what because rumours and information kind of take a life of their own. Fortunately, in this case, the Hofstra contact that we had happens to be a fan of I-Con and was almost more concerned as to what's happening with I-Con for his own reasons than he was listening to rumours but the Marriott and the other hotel we were dealing with weren't for it so easy. So we had to, we just, it was only a week and a half, two weeks ago, did we finally secure our sort of breakup or temporary change of contract which gets us funds that we need as a corporation to operate and make good on our obligations ___. So there was a lot that we couldn't say for a time because it's important to not put stuff out that gets misconstrued by parties that we now have to negotiate with.
Now we get to talk about fun stuff. Where do we go from here? Where we go from here is, you know we've got a multi-phased approach to I-Con 32 in 2014 and most importantly ICON corporation, how it's going to exist going forward. What we realized this year is that we need to fundamentally change our business model. We had an awesome deal at Stony Brook, and maybe one day we'll get back together at Stony Brook. that'll be awesome. But the fact of the matter is , our biggest weakness has been our business model to date. We do zero in terms of financial growth for nine months out or the year, or very little, and then in the short period of time, prereg hits, and we start to fund this convention that's entirely dependent on these three days. And as we illustrated, that's not going to fly next year, and if we don't kick ass next year, it's not going to happen to fly around by the following year. So what we're doing is two things:
we are concentrating this next year on raising funds for I-Con 32 in 2014, to be done properly, to be done right, to be done along the lines of what you would expect. You guys have heard a couple scary numbers. 225 thousand dollars, does that ring a bell? It's a lot of money. A whole lot of money. And while we don't need that exact amount up front, we need something pretty close to that to really be viable so that when I-Con 32 is done I-Con 33 is a sure thing and we don't really need to worry about if it's going to happen, we concentrate on what's going to happen, when it's going to happen, who's going to make it happen. So the people replacement stuff is a lot easier when you have a plan and you have financial means. So we're going to be doing two things next year to really manage that. The first path is in line with the business model We're going to be evaluating and holding various fundraisers and genre-specific events that are of interest to certain sections of our membership base. And I'll give an example: right, if I have three thousand dollars to spend today I cannot possibly--
<laughter>
Vince: Three thousand dollars? Guys all have fifty on you?
<laughter>
Vince: I cannot possibly throw enough programming, and enough guests into whatever is facility is that's giving it to us for three thousand dollars to satisfy all of the different genres that currently make up I-Con. Something is going to get killed, and in this case $3000 means that most things are going to get killed. So instead of trying to have I-Con at this point where we can't or even a mini I-Con, what we're looking at and currently evaluating -- this is actually where you asked about how you can help, we're going to talk about that in a bit -- we're looking at plans for genre-specific events and fundraisers. Those are things like film screenings. We're talking about a concert. We're looking at... one of the ideas on the table that were proposed was a Doctor Who specific event, a cosplay workshop, and authors' workshop, all these things. So what happens now is I-Con as a company produces many events. We're not ultimately tied to the success or failrure of any one event. We engage our membership base, we're able to offer the dealers something, because each one of those would be an opportunity for each section of dealers, and we're now engaging our people which allows us to then say "Hey you, engaged member Lee?, we need help with X, Y, and Z". It's very hard to go to someone you haven't spoken to in six months and ask them for help. I mean I had a friend like that, we called him Need a Favour Pat. I don't talk to him unless I have to. Were you raising your hand?
Aaron: I was. So I'm going to field a question that I'm getting a little bit on Facebook.
Vince: Okay.
Aaron: It's related to this. In case anyone on the stream is curious, I'm Aaron Pellman-Isaacs, I'm the IT directory, I'm responsible for your stream, and the question is basically "Will Ops Staff currently people who do staff for the event have things to do in the next year or so"
Vince: Absolutely
Kat: This ties in exactly with what Vince is saying about these miniature events, the same way we're trying to reach out to membership with each one of those genres. A lot of our staff are also interested in specific genres, and we'll be asking for volunteers who are willing to help with a specific event they might be interested in or have a skill set that could help with that event.
Vince: That goal, each one of these events, especially in the beginning, they have business plans attached that have to meet a certain criteria in order for us to dedicate the time, because if they don't meet the criteria and don't get us closer to getting us to I-Con 32 in 2014, it's not worth the time invested. But moreso than that in the fundraising portion of it, it's a matter of connecting to our membership base. I-Con has maintained a really great membersihp base over 31 years, connecting to them once a year. I want to make that -- I want to change that, and I want our membership base to be connected to fairly constantly, I want to become a bigger part of their lives, because those people who are engaged are the people who are sitting right here. You guys are the engaged ones.
Kat: <motions to camera>
Vince: <point at viewers> Yeah, and -- sorry guys -- but yes, outside of that, when you disconnect for a year, you lose so much of that. And, look, I ran scitech last year. And I experienced it firsthand. I had forty guests on a list that I could talk to that Lee and previous scitech organizers had passed to me. And half of them weren't interested in me, they haven't thought about I-Con in a year, their lives had changed. So it's a matter of doing what we need to do as a company to change the business model, but also at the same time become closer to our membership base. And I think there's two points, I think Robert had her hand up
Sarah: Also I have a question from...
Vince: Okay, let's have that question and then that question.
Robert: This is going to sound a little rough, but you want people to give you guys money over the course of a year to put on a convention next year. Essentialy.
Vince: Well, that would be wonderful. But we're offering an experience for them.
Robert: What is a typically three day pass cost for I-Con.
Kat: 64 at the door.
Robert: What are we talking about each one of these events?
Vince: Whatever makes sense.
Robert: It would depend on the cost and the expected attendance of the event.
Vince: You know when we were talking about a one day author's workshop, where we're going to allow fifty people in and we're going to have four authors or five authors to work with all fifty people. That would be a higher ticket item than one third of the I-Con pass. But when we look at a concert, that might be something you get into for $25, which -- yeah, that's a third of what you would spend at I-Con, but but it's cheap for a concert, especially for the headliners that we're looking at. Each one of that- so, to answer your question, it's entirely dependent on the cost structure for the event and -- I couldn't tell you, but it's going to be reasonable, we need people at these things; it's more important for us, again, to keep our membership engaged, because those are the people who are going to get us there.
And then Sarah you have a question from….
Sarah: Yeah, from James Emmett. He has two questions. The first which is, if there's an I-Con in 2014, will it occur in the same month as others in the past. And then the second one is with regards to mini events, is there a chance for a comic book event.
Dave: I got the first one. The first one, to be perfectly honest, we're not sure. There are basically two scenarios that we're examining right now. One is to continue holding icon during our traditional dates which are round about Spring break, and that's basically because when facilities are available, during the spring semester. The second option that we're looking at because of... it frees up a lot of logistics from an event planning perspective although it might impact staff availability positively and negatively, is potentially moving to early Summer. Now nothing is set in stone, we're simply evaluating
Vince: Nothing's in the draft(?).
Dave: Yeah, nothing's in the draft(?).
Vince: The point is it's possible we'd change... I want to put peoples' minds at east: We've looked at a couple dates and scenarios. Anything's possible. We're all creatures of habit, so we gravitate towards that initial date range, but we're also still evaluating other stuff, and we'll continue to. I-Con needs to change to survive, so it's possible that the date is part of that. I don't know.
Kat: We'll see what works best.
Vince: It remains to be seen.
Dave: What was the second part of that [question]?
Vince: The second question was would there be a comics... it's possible. You're talking to a guy with a superman tattoo on his arm. You can twist my arm! Yeah, I mean, that's ???, that's something that we want to do as a company. We're looking for proposals, we're going to talk about that next. So "possibly" is my answer to that.
Kat: We always hope that people volunteer to help _____
Vince: Just to stay on track so we can knock the information out and take more questions, that's sort of piece 1 of our operating plan. There are going to be pure fundraisers in that. There's going to be a lot of what we're calling convention or community outreach. I-Con has this really great membership base, and
I-Con has these really great people who have contributed. And every one of them goes to some other convention at some point and time. And there's a lot of...
<something in audience?>
Vince: ...Yahoo's actually a sponsor of the next I-Con.
<laughter>
Vince: So we're a community, but this community goes to cons. It's kind of what we do. So we're making friends. You know, one thing, and you know, Carl? Am I not allowed to talk about Lunacon yet? Or...
Carl: They publicized it.
Vince: Oh, that's awesome. You know, a great example of that is an effort that Carl over there is spearheading with Lunacon. Now, Lunacon is integrating with us at a far higher, more substantial manner than I would suspect. They're basically giving I-Con a chunk of their space, for I-Con <finger quotes> what are we calling it? Zero point thirty-two?
Carl: Zero point three two.
Vince: Yeah, where we bring some of our programming to Lunacon. WE're not in competition with Lunacon in any way. They land on completely different part of the year, it happens to be a lot of I-Conners go there, so this is a great example of how we can reach out to some of the other conventions, so of course, we're a business, and we're operating as such, so any one of those outreaches that we're looking at we will received benefit from. Lunacon does a great job of talking about I-Con, and has been a friend of the con for years. We're talking to other conventions now that we're going to possibly do a room party or sponsor something at. When I say sponsor it means our members go and do something, and they will in turn work with us on marketing our things as we have them. So community outreach and convention outreach is another piece of that. Then in kind of its own bucket is... so okay, to talk about that, that is a loose formation of a plan that could potentially generate what we need and adapt I-Con's business model to better exist in the world than it stands today. Is there a question?
Aaron?: Another couple questions.
Vince: Let's just keep it for a minute. That's one section. The second section of what we're doing is ultimately we're crowdsourcing. As I said for numerous times we have this tremendous membership base, and we have these dealers, all these people who love the convention, and I can't tell you how many emails I haven't been able to respond to yet that ask "Vince what can we do?" and we're looking at that, but what we're going to be doing is piecing together a kickstarter campaign in all likelihood -- maybe kickstarter, indigogo,etc. Ultimately, we're going to allow our membership base to fund and even steer some of the convention specific items. Now, Dave's been spearheading that for a little bit of time, and I kind of want to turn it over to him so you're talking about ???? at this point in time.
Dave: So as was said before, we kind of have a decent understanding of what our baseline costs is ????. How much we're going to need to have up front, how much we're going to need to have in pocket to pay our bills to whatever venue and ??? pre-pay ???. First of all, it everybody here familiar iwth the idea of crowdsourcing? Anybody? Basically, what you do is you say -- lets use kickstarter as an example -- you say we want to do this thing, it's going to cost us $20k to do it, anybody who wants in, you could pledge a certain amount of money, if the pledges exceed that $20k, we get a chunk of money and the people get a reward for doing that. In our exapmle we would provide things like badges for I-Con 32. If it doesn't hit that level, then nobody spends or gets any money. So you're putting your proposal out to the Internet and the world at large, and you're saying "hey, we want to do this thing, do you guys want to throw in for it, yes, no? If yes, throw us your money and we will give you badges and T-shirts, whatever it's going to take to get things moving".
Vince: I'd just like to clarify in a sense that's preregistration. You're just pre-selling...
Kat: But it's preregistration without a risk, so you're still paying the prereg price, but you're pledging it, so you're saying that as long as everyone else pledges and meets the goal, then we're all in and we all get our badge that we would have paid for through prereg, but if for some reason I-Con doesn't meet that goal, no one has to pay a dime.
Vince: And that's an important part because what we don't want and I'll let Dave take over and I'll shut up after this is that we don't want to be underfunded. If we did an indiegogo campaign and we didn't lock it down in the same way and we prereg'd $45k in membership and dealers, that doesn't give us what we need ultimately to provide what we need to give you guys a kick ass I-Con. In fact, it means that we might have to refund that money and figure it all out again.
Dave: So to give you a rough skeleton of what we're looking to doing is first before we touch a kickstarter site, before we do anything, we need to sit down and have another cycle of negotiations with vendors, hotels, some guests, so on and so forth, and nail down an agreement in principle on dates, and venue. Now we don't know when exactly that's going to be and that's why this is up in the air. and as part of that deal we would have number sand costs associated with it without writing a check with the understanding that if we can get the money, this is what we're moving forward on. Do you have a question on that?
Aaron: Actually, directly related to what you said. So, a couple people have messaged me separately asking, we've gone through a lot of numbers, it's very muddled, it's very technical, is there any way you guys can sort of streamline it to an easy to understand ten words?
Dave: I-Con costs a lot of money and we need it in our pocket before we schedule an event. It doesn't matter what the number is, I can be saying twelve billion dollars at this point -- we don't have twelve billion dollars -- but basically that's what it comes down to, that we need a big pile of money that we don't have today, and we need to have that pile of money before we officially say I-Con 32 is going to happen at a certain time and a certain place. However, before we start asking for money to make I-Con 32 happen, we need to have the negotiations necessary to be able to tell people, hey, if you want to have I-Con 32, sign up for this kickstarter and it will be at this place on these dates. So first step, and before we start walking around hand in hand is going to be to do these negotiations all over again, which is why it's going to be so important for us to maintain these relationship with all these venues and hotels. After we've done with that, the plan is to put together a ks campaign that provides us with a bare essentials I-Con, and this is the part of the campaign that's going to seem very unpopular on its face, so bear with me. The bare essentials I-Con only includes: Authors programming, scitech programming, media, programming, and comics programming. And the reasons for tha tis that is the core of what I-Con is, and those are the tracks that go the closest to our nonprofit mission. If we chose another track in lieu of those four, either it would hurt us financially -- that would be media, quite frankly -- or or it would potentially jeopardize our status as a 501c3, which is not a fight we can afford to be in right now.
Vince: Nor are we interested. We like our mission.
Dave: Now the question becomes "all right, what happens to all these other tracks, what happens to our gaming program, what happens to our anime program, what happens to our performances, and all these other tracks that people have grown to know and love". Well, that's where kickstarter's concept of the stretch goal comes in. So -- and these are not actual numbers, these are pretend numbers, I'm using them by way of example -- let's say we put our kickstarter campaign together, and we see I ned to hit a goal of $150k in pledges to hold I-Con 32. We could then say if we hit $175k, we will allow the people who have funded it to vote on which of these now missing tracks to restore. And if we hit $200k, we can vote on 3 of the tracks or 2 of the tracks, depending on what it would cost us, we need to spend some time going over those logistics. The end state goal is to restore all of the programming, all of the tracks, and the full scope of what I-Con has become known as, because if we don't get to that point, we're going to have to make some sacrifices, or not hold the event, and frankly if we set the bar too high, there's a very large possibility that the event doesn't happen at all, because as I said before if we don't hit our goal, that initial goal, we don't get a dime. All we've done is wasted everybody's time and energy. We don't want to be there. We want to be at the point where we can bring in the amount of money we need to to hold an event that everybody's going to love. And that's going to require a lot of effort from a lot of people over a long period of time. Before negotiations start, we're going to have to start talking dates, it's verlikely that we cuold see a kickstarter campaign some time in the Summer regardless of when the dates for the event would be, so that we'll know by the Fall when, where, and if I-Con 32 is gonna happen. So that we're not sitting around and waiting until December, we're not sitting around and waiting until March. There's no question about it; we'll know for sure as soon as that campaign closes what the state is going to be.
Vince: So just to kind of wrap what all that means, right, is we're making substantial changes to the way I-Con works. We are doing one level of fundraising that's a fairly massive program -- a fairly massive fundraiser that could be a shoo-in for us. Kickstarter in and of itself: It's model, if it works, puts us clearly where we need to be. The model that we talked about before where we're going to be doing things in between now and then could potentially put us where we need to be. The two of them in tandem could potentially make I-Con a much stronger organization with much larger outreadh and much more going on in general. And I think nobody here has ever said "I need less I-Con". in fact, the pitchforks came out when we announced this sort of postponement. So it's clear that everybody here, everybody there, everybody up there wants I-Con, now we're going to give them I-Con and we're going to give them a lot more.
<chatter about time limit of meeting>
Vince: Somebody asked what they could do. Actually, 12(?) people asked ______. What you guys can do: One, now that you guys understand what's going on, and you guys have met with us face to face, continue talking to people, because there's a lot of that going on, and there's very few of us that actually really understand what's going on. Two, keep in touch with I-Con. Three, submit ideas, and I mean that at every level. I've gotten one sentence emails, like "Can we have a comics day?", that's fine. I've also gotten really well-written proposals, where somebody says "Here's a possible event for I-Con to have or contribute to and here are some of the resources that you can line up". Submit that stuff. I can promise you that we won't view every single one of them. I can promise you that we're going to say no to a lot of these things. But I can also promise you that we're looking to expand the number of responsible parties that we have. And we're looking to bring you guys in and work with you to make I-Con what we need it to be. So get those proposals over to us in any way you can. Those are going to be vetted by myself and a couple of the people at this table, and then we're goign to be reaching out, again, to this base, to figure out who can actually make this happen. So I was about to say, I think I'm wrapped at this point, we should just talk questions. Aaron, you've got your hand up, I'll be happy to talk to you.
Aaron: Will I-Con take donations.
Dave: Yes.
Vince: I-Con will take donations. Now we will.
Kat: We are 501c3, we will, we are always open to donations.
Vince: Should I go through these questions before we ask for anything else?
Dave: Yes.
Vince: Great. So, I'm going to skip over... There's been questions from the dealers or potential dealers about costs for table in the dealer's room. Fact of the matter is, we don't know. We'll determine that. can we pick who we can share with? I'm not really... the dealer-specific questions, nothing's defined at this point, so stay tuned.
Yeah, all this stuff is.... HAve we considered the P building in Nassau Community College. Actually, I believe that was on the initial list of things that we've looked at, but it's certainly something that we could reconsider. When will refunds be distributed to vendors? Refunds have already started to trickle out to vendors. REfunds have been in my court -- I've been doing a lot of data collection, data confirmation, and frankly on the flip side I'm also doing a lot of collection, so as I get funds in on behalf of the company, Hofstra and the other hotels, that stuff will be redistributed out. No, I-Con is not flat broke and waiting for one dollar from Peter to pay Paul... <turns to Dave> Is that the...
Dave: Yeah
Vince: Okay good. No, we're not there, but with that said I do have to make sure that we're still around in thirty days to continue paying people who are waiting. I do anticipate at this point judging from our recent communications and confirmations from all the parties that I'll have all those really issued within the next thirty days but as of now that's not the official date. But it's coming soon. <points to Aaron> We've been in touch with a number of people _____.
Aaron: This coming from me just to clarify the donations issue, I think we can just put the donation box information on the website.
Kat: Yeah.
Aaron: Do we know anybody here who can potentially put up the donation box
Vince: Yes, ___ Jason.
Aaron: I'm just saying that for the record we will put it up on the site.
Kat: Yes, we will put the donations...
Dave: _____
Vince: So I'm sorry if I didn't answer any of the questions here <motions to paper on desk> because they are very relevant to an I-Con that is not yet planned. As we have -- it looks like two minutes left -- anybody else have any questions? We're not going to vaporize in two minutes, but we'll be out of here.
Carl?: _____ announcement, but people who want to help out, Lunacon programming is still at the early stages ____ or organizing that programming, please write carl@iconsf.organization
Kat: To reiterate, Carl from the back is the person spearheading our work with Lunacon and he's putting together programming as mentioned, that's kind of a subset of...
Audience: What's Lunacon?
Kat: It's a convention in Rye.
Dave: Rye Brook, NY. It's a little bit similar to what I-Con does but a little... It's different I've never been, Carl can explain it to you after
Carl: It's a convention of around 500 people kept primarily what we call authors programming so I want to show a little bit of variety versus what they normally see by having some anime, some games, and some performances.
Kat: They've invited us to come do some of the I-Con programming there, and so if anybody either here or online has anything that they could bring or would like to do at Lunacon that kind of fits into that, it's carl@iconsf.org.
Vince: I mean if there's no other questions-- are there any other questions?
Audience: Yes, how does not having an I-Con in 2013 affect us for having an I-Con in 2014.
Vince: It simply facilitates it. As we kind of illustrated, if we don't have an I-Con in 2013 -- I mean if we did, we can't afford to...
Audience: Well, from the point of view of the fans who would be looking for the convention in 2013 would not see it there.
Vince: Sure.
Audience: And they think potentially it was canceled completely or that there were serious problems with the organization, how would that impact the fans' faith in I-Con.
Vince: That's a communication challenge.
Kat: We plan... especially since we're talking about the smaller genre-specific events is we will kind of keep ourselves engaged with our membership and audience over the next twelve months with many smaller events spread out throughout the year so that if they start to look up I-Con, it's like "Oh, I-Con's doing a film screening" or "I-Con's doing an author's workshop", or I-Con's doing this, it's whenever they look, there will be something happening with I-Con that they will be able to find, so it will still be in their consciousness, it will just be for little bits and pieces.
Bill(?): So to answer your question based on what I heard from you guys, <stuff> the short answer is yes, not having a con in 2013 is going to impact the fandoms' consciousness of I-con, but the short answer is that's the least worst option.
Vince: I will agree with that. And I'll thank you for -- there's delegation right there, thank you Bill. I think Dave in the back had a question.
Dave: <probably something about time having run out for the room the meeting is in>
Vince: Okay, so guys, as far as what you guys can do to help us get things to where they need to be, it's a lot of keeping in touch -- I'll take another question in a second -- everybody here if you're on Facebook, please like the I-Con Facebook page, I am using that and we are using that here as a conduit for communication, we're of course sending emails out...
Kat: Share it with people that you're friends with, if you think they're interested
Vince: <points at audience member> We have another question.
Aaron: This isn't actually a question for you guys, it's a question for you guys. so today we streamed online, we've been testing out a whole bunch of different ways of getting people more involved, so I'm going to post the video later, I'd like you guys to take a look at it, and tell me how it came out, whether you like it, whether we should keep doing it this way or a different way.
Vince: What this video? My hair!
Aaron: You hair is terrible. We're going to light it on fire in the video and just going to put a gif up right above you for the whole time. So if you guys have any feedback or aything like that, we want to get people more involved in the meetings, people in corporate meetings where we can't really fit that many people in the corporate office but we can stream it to as many people who want to watch. So I know there's about 25 people watching it now who can hear me as well, and everybody in this room, if you guys have any feedback about how we can better reach you guys via the web, let me know. Drop a line to it@iconsf.org, it'll hit me, it'll hit Carl, it'll hook Dave, it'll hook couple other people as well, and we can all work together on fixing that.
Vince: And guys when I said talk, I do mean it. You guys are the ones that cared enough and were interested enough to be here virtually or not. We're out of time, let people know you were here. Let people know you guys were ___. Dave, and then we gotta pack up.
Dave G: <suggestion for diner after-meeting to continue conversation>
Vince: Guys, thank you all for coming, and please drink some coffee because apparently there's a lot of it.
Aaron: Thank you guys, and goodnight.