When we asked Neringa Young—principal organizer of the wildly successful Build Stuff conference in Lithuania—how she managed to extend her event to both Odessa, Ukraine, and Mallorca, Spain over the last couple years, she summed it up quite succinctly: “Well, it’s all about the community.”
We couldn’t agree more, and yet her seemingly simple answer belies something more complex and meaningful. Over the past seven-plus years, Neringa and her crew of accomplished organizers have forged a close-knit network of speakers, volunteers, and attendees to rival anything throughout the Baltics and beyond. In our conversation, we sought to learn more about her and how she got from square one to where she is today.
Over the last few years, we have heard a ton of amazing things about this conference from talented and respected speakers hailing from all over the place. Build Stuff bills itself as the event “for people who actually build stuff!” During our discussion, we wanted to delve into what exactly that means, and ended up learning a lot more about Build Stuff’s origin story.
It turns out that the idea started simply enough, stemming from a casual evening conversation. At the time there was little, if any, real developer community in Lithuania. Few meetups, few opportunities for developers to network with each other, and certainly no kind of professional conference. So let’s start one, Neringa figured. Why not?
That sounds nice, but those of us who have organized community events know that it is never that easy. Except that then, seven weeks later, the first Build Stuff came to fruition and it was a hit! And the rest is history. Hearing from Neringa about some of her team’s amazing organizational feats, Jeff jokingly (not jokingly?) asked if she wanted to take over running KCDC for us. Uh, she’ll get back to us on that…
Over the course of our conversation, we covered a variety of other topics. We learned more about how she themes her events, as well as how Build Stuff has put components in place to encourage and expand the opportunities for quality networking. We talked about some inspiring charitable initiatives Build Stuff has undertaken. And we discussed how Neringa stays connected with (and enhances) technical communities throughout Europe and the world, despite not actually being a professional technologist herself.
Next week will be the seventh annual Build Stuff event in Vilnius, and Jon and I will both be taking our first trip to the Baltic states. Neringa’s team has also successfully hosted five other summertime conferences between Odessa and Mallorca. Next year, the Spanish conference will move to Málaga.
Despite having had exchanges with Neringa over email and social media many times, this was our first change to have a “real” conversation with her and we loved every minute of it. We even got to briefly meet her young son, who (like Jeff’s kids) decided bedtime was somewhat optional! Cannot wait to continue the dialogue with her and many others next week in Vilnius.
To learn more about the Build Stuff conferences, you can find them online: