The Tech Off is an event described as ‘the lovechild of TED talks and WWE’, hosted by Sheffield digital agency, Techdept. On 7th March, they’re taking The Tech Off all the way to that there London for a very special North Vs South edition. Rather than try and explain The Tech Off to you ourselves, we sent a few questions to Techdept.
What is The Tech Off and what can people expect?
The Tech Off is a tech industry event like no other, described as ‘the lovechild of TED talks and WWE’.
We get speakers to talk for strictly five minutes about anything to do with tech. The idea is to wow the crowd as they choose the winner. If speakers take longer than five minutes, our security team – The Fabulous Bakewell Boys (actual wrestlers) – will drag them from the stage!
The winner of the night takes away the coveted ‘Belt of Tech’ and an invite to defend their title. The event is hosted by ‘MC Danimal’ AKA ‘The Beyoncé of Tech’, a boisterous character created by our MD, Daniel Kirby.
It’s all very tongue-in-cheek.
What made Techdept decide to start an event like this?
In 2014 our PR agency told us we should do an event. But we really didn’t want to do a boring ‘agency insight’ event – the kind of thing where the host gives a 10-minute sales pitch, then speakers speak for 20 minutes, of which only five minutes is really good stuff.
So we came up with a format. Five-minute talks, crowd choose the winner, they get a wrestling belt, fight club for geeks – it hasn’t changed since day one. However, since the first event, we have upped the theatrics, playing on the idea of a parallel universe where Tech battles are settled on the street. Basically, we tried to see what we could get away with, and we are where we are now!
Techdept’s customers are based in London, so that’s where we started it. The first had circa 50 people, but we’ve since had 500 buying tickets for our Shoreditch shows. Because it’s a bit ‘out there’, we’ve caught people’s attention, and have taken it to Cannes, Helsinki and Austin Texas. We now have a regular event in partnership with London Tech Week.
Tell us more about this special North Vs South event – how did it come about?
Last year was the first time we did The Tech Off in Sheffield – at MADE entrepreneurs festival – which was like a homecoming. Talking to the team at Sheffield City of Makers, we thought that our London event would be a great way to showcase The Steel City.
So North Vs South was born – a collaboration between Techdept and Sheffield City of Makers. We’re going to give the Londoners a good spanking.
We have a team of five Northerners going head-to-head with five Southern shandies. Team North includes our SXSW Champ Nick Bax from Human Studio, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, and IBM’s Alison Clark.
Do you need any help? How can Sheffield’s digital community get involved?
Firstly – come down and represent! The crowd choose the winner so the more the merrier! We guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.
Let’s whip up some of that northern pride and show them what a powerhouse really looks like!
What do you plan to do with The Tech Off next?
We’re hosting our annual Soundclash event in collaboration with London & Partners (where we showcase music technology) in June. This will be part of Getahead Festival, the world’s first 24-our urban festival of the head, which is launching during London Tech Week.
Here’s what happened when we took it to Brighton last year, and will give you a flavour of the event!
Find out more
And there you have it. If you fancy supporting the northern team in the North Vs South event, you can bag a ticket on Eventbrite now. You can also learn more by heading to the respective sites for The Tech Off and Techdept.