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What’s on the agenda at Turing Fest 2019?

July 12, 2019

Written by Sarah Keeley

It’s been almost a year since the last Turing Fest when we welcomed more than 2000 delegates and 50 speakers to Edinburgh for a two-day exploration of the state of product, engineering, strategy, growth, marketing and culture. But a year is a long time in Tech World, and a lot has changed since Turing Fest 2018.

Privacy scandals rocked the industry with heavyweights like Facebook and Google being fined record amounts for murky data-collection and sharing practices. We’ve finally seen a picture of a black hole, quantum computing is the new blockchain and with continued investment into fossil fuels, it seems the fate of our planet now lies in the hands of a 16 year old Swedish girl

It’s against this backdrop of intense innovation and uncertainty that we’ve been busy building the agenda for Turing Fest 2019. The tech industry is evolving rapidly, with new products coming to market and entire new categories being created faster than ever.

All this change presents major opportunities, especially for the innovative companies behind today’s latest technologies. However, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to keep up with cutting-edge competitors, to attract and retain talent, and to do business in a changing regulatory landscape.

To ensure we provide our attendees from all disciplines, sectors and growth stages with insightful sessions that meaningfully help them get better at what they do, we’ve split up the conference into three tracks…


The Build track at Turing Fest 2019 will bring together a mix of engineers, product managers, designers and data scientists to share practical lessons on how to design, build and ship incredible products. Some of the topics our speakers will be tackling will center around user research and onboarding, internal collaboration and managing competing priorities, infrastructure challenges and emerging technologies. 

Some highlight talks from the Build track include: 

  • Setting Up Product Design for Success – Jane Austin, Director of Product Design, Babylon Health

  • Don’t Secure The Hardware, Secure the Data: Tackling Hard But Vital Problems – David Irvine, Founder & CEO, MaidSafe

  • Skateboarding and Software: Putting Ideas Into Action – Eamon Leonard, Co-founder of Orchestra & Cohort


This year the grow track will feature a diverse bunch of familiar faces, as well as some new ones that have been making a splash in their respective fields. The grow track will cover the top of the funnel to the bottom line, and all points in between, with sessions on SEO, content, lead gen, sales, onboarding and customer retention. 

Some highlight talks from the Grow track this year: 

  • What Happens When Everyone’s Website is Fixed? – Jono Alderson, Special Projects, Yoast

  • Unicorns, Ice Cream and Puking Rainbows: Driving Growth from Startup to Scale – Hana Abaza, Shopify Plus

  • The Marketing IQ Manifesto – Oli Garner, Co-founder, Unbounce


The Lead track at Turing Fest 2019 will provide a forum for founders and executives at all stages to connect and share insights and war stories from their startup journey. Over two days, we’ll have sessions from founders and investors who have built and backed some of the world’s most exciting tech businesses, talking frankly about how they did it — and the mistakes they made along the way. Topics included in the lead track will range from funding and scaling, to strategy and hiring. 

Talk highlights from the Lead track include: 

  • Sleeping Giants & The Era of Brand Safety – Nandini Jammi, Co-founder, Sleeping Giants

  • Lessons Learned & Mistakes Made: GTM in the US from Europe – Christopher McCann, Co-founder & CEO, Current Health

  • Stop Recruiting for Rockstars: The Skills You Really Want to Hire For, and Why – Danae Shell, Chief Marketing Office, Care Sourcer

Keynote Highlights 

For Turing Fest 2019, we’ve confirmed a number of outstanding keynote speakers to provide attendees with insights into how to build remarkable technology businesses.

Chris Messina

The #metoo movement, #blacklivesmatter and #neveragain — these examples of viral activism that spread worldwide and altered entire societies via social media would not have been possible without our keynote speaker — Chris Messina, the inventor of the hashtag

Back in 2007, Chris proposed the hashtag as a solution for vertical/associational grouping of messages, trends, and events on Twitter. A true visionary, Chris has spent over 15 years designing products and experiences for Google and Uber, founding startups, and recently became a digital nomad, traveling the world and speaking on social technology, product design, and founder culture. His keynote on building technology that works with human nature, is one not to be missed and is open to all attendees. 

Chris will also be hosting a workshop on the 27th of August with clinical psychologist, Dr Emily Anhalt. Spaces for the workshop are limited to ensure participants gain actionable insights that can be brought back with you to power your company’s growth in 2019 and beyond – so be sure to secure your space today!

Meri Williams

Meri Williams makes her triumphant return to Turing Fest 2019, this time as a keynote speaker. Meri is a fascinating character with a long, interesting and varied career in tech — starting out as a hardware hacker and building a part of South Africa’s first satellite as a teenager. In last year’s talk, she jokingly advised attendees: “Don’t let your kids do anything cool when they’re young, because I soldered something that went into space when I was 16, it has all been f*cking downhill from there.” 

Despite Meri’s modesty, we think she’s had a pretty ‘cool’ career since her initial endeavours into space tech. Meri has held senior roles at Procter & Gamble, Government Digital Service, Marks & Spencer and is now CTO at Monzo bank —- one of the UK’s most popular challenger banks. Meri’s sessions are always a delightful mix of thought-provoking insights and hilarious anecdotes. 

As well as her keynote, Meri will host a workshop on Friday 30th of August on becoming a brilliant people developer. In this full-day workshop, Meri will offer practical advice on coaching, mentoring, managing and giving and receiving feedback. The workshop is open to all experience levels — but as with all our other workshops this year, spaces are limited. If you want to secure your spot for Meri’s masterclass, register here

Besides these amazing keynotes, we’re welcoming a broader and more diverse bunch of speakers to the stage this year. Check out our programme to see the other talks we have going on this year. 

Turing Founders 

For the past two years, we’ve been running a founder’s summit the day before conference kickoff to provide an opportunity for 250 ambitious startup founders and executives to connect with 75 of Europe and North America’s most forward-thinking VCs. Previous participants have gone on to raise more than £35m in new funding since 2017. This year’s event will be hosted by Turing Fest and Silicon Valley Bank and will feature a full day of carefully curated 1:1 meetings, tailored to ensure both founders and investors are meeting the right people. This is an invite-only event with all companies hand-picked and carefully screened for product maturity, growth trajectory and investor-readiness. Besides the networking opportunities, Turing Founders also includes a high-caliber programme of panels, interview and Q&As with seasoned founders and investors, as well as an evening reception and after-party. 


As well as sessions and keynotes, we have a bunch of workshops with top tech veterans to give you the chance to get hands-on and learn with our speakers. On the day before and on the day after the conference, you can dive deep into your area of interest: be it agile design thinking or creating killer content campaigns (and getting away with it). Each workshop has a limited number of spaces and if you grab your workshop ticket, you also get a discount on your Turing Fest conference ticket. 


With more than 3000 attendees expected at Turing Fest 2019, the expo provides an unrivalled opportunity to meet face-to-face with tech leaders, decision makers, technical talent and future partners. The tech community in Scotland and beyond continues to grow but with so much focus on growth, it can be hard to find the time to socialize and engage with your industry peers. That’s why networking remains a key focus for us as organizers and we hope the expo and networking events will lead to productive conversations and new connections for you and your team. 

If you’re excited to be part of Turing Fest, be sure to secure your space today, as ticket prices will rise as we get closer to August. 

See you in Edinburgh!

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