A Close Look at Catalyst 2023: Another Success (Even Without the Yachts)

Date: August 31, 2023
Author: Steven Kellam

Set against the backdrop of an ever-evolving digital landscape, the Catalyst conference has rapidly risen to be one of the premier events for Partnership leaders, executives, entrepreneurs and even novices. Bringing together a fusion of businesses, technology vendors, and thought leaders, the event curates an environment for open dialogues and deep dives into the nuances of Partnerships at all levels.

“Catalyst mission is to elevate partner teams all around the world. We believe partnership functions deserve a C-suite role”.

On a personal level, I certainly enjoyed Catalyst 2022 and I was excited to attend this year’s event. There’s a saying, “oh what a difference a year can make,” and Catalyst 2023 was indeed testament to that. The majority of changes were commendable. However, where were the disco balls on yachts? I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Having attended last year’s Catalyst event, I’ve been on record saying it was one of the most thrilling conferences I’ve ever been a part of. The ambiance was electric. So, there was some trepidation – could this year’s sequel match its predecessor’s vivacity.

Now, we’ve all heard of the sophomore jinx – those bands that hit big with their debut but fizzled out on the follow-up. Well, I’m delighted to share that Catalyst proved that it wasn’t a one-hit wonder. If you were present this year, chime in with your feedback. And for those who missed out – consider penciling in next year’s event on your calendar.

Where Catalyst 2023 Shined Bright:
  • Clarity: Unlike last year’s occasional ambiguity between co-sell and through-sell (channel) during presentations, this year there was a clear effort to differentiate discussions between the two with Partnerships (with a capital P) as the overarching umbrella. .” All thanks to a well segment and defined agenda and presentations, and a clear definition of “Partnerships,” paving the way for more precise content delivery.
  • Knowledge: It’s all about who’s on the podium. Last year in Florida, there were co-sell partnership gurus galore, but not as many channel partnership leaders. This year however, while the co-sell partnerships gurus were there again in full force with the likes of Allan Adler, Asher Mathew, Chris Samila and Vince Menzione. The channel showed up as well with industry leaders like Dorothy Copeland, Global Head of Partnerships and Alliances at Stripe who stole the show with her keynote, supported by the likes of Mike Moore, Natascha Lee, Darren Bibby, Heather Margolis, Cindi Johnson, Meg Brennen, Kristine Stewart, Diane Krakora, Kerry Desberg, Gary Morris, Bob Lamkin, Larry Walsh and others. And, of course Jay McBain pulled it all together like he usually does. The insight from all sides was impressive.
  • Delivery: The rapid-fire 20-minute presentations were a hit, with speakers condensing their expertise for easy consumption. However, it leads me to my main critique – we all want more, so where do we find the depth?
Thoughts in Taking Catalyst 2024 to the Next Level:

Natascha’s spirited presentation on Channel Marketing Best Practices left us wanting for more. An abundance of knowledge shared in a short span is a double-edged sword. Workshops or roundtables could have provided the depth many of us were looking for.

In addition to the suggestion that we all collectively dive deeper into the topics that are impacting our day-to-day success in the channel and in co-selling, how do we recapture the energy level of the “new kid on the block” that was so infusive and prevalent in 2022. Last year set the bar incredibly high with its unmatched joie de vivre, making this year’s event hard to parallel. While the energy was still above par compared to most conferences, a certain edginess was missed. Perhaps it was the switch from a lively convention center setting to a more conventional hotel venue, or the surge in attendees from 300 to 650 or the fact that Denver simply does not have Miami’s yacht parties and disco balls.

The truth is that 2022 was a party where a lot of work and knowledge transfer took place, 2023 was an event where a lot of work and knowledge transfer took place and culminated in an evening party. So here’s hoping for that “this is different” spark in next year’s event. I know Asher and teams goal is to create an environment where expertise meets execution, coupled with entertainment – a noble goal indeed.

Catalyst 2023 encapsulated the future trajectory of Partnerships. There was a noticeable increase in enterprise attendees from last year, and I’m optimistic as I look ahead. As we turn our gaze to Catalyst 2024, I’d love to see a fusion of depth and dynamism. Here’s to elevating the next chapter and, of course, to maybe have our cake (or yacht party) and eating it too. Cheers to Catalyst and all it brings to the world of Partnerships.