The Summer Ed, and how it gave birth to Mendeley

Hooray! The peer reviews are in: My paper “The Theory of Reasoned Action: Does It Lack Emotion?” (which is part of my Ph.D. dissertation) was accepted at the American Marketing Association’s 2008 Summer Marketing Educator’s Conference, which means I get to travel to San Diego in August to meet up with some of my friends in the academic community. The “Summer Ed” also brings forth fond memories…

…of my first year as a doctoral student. I had just started my dissertation at the Bauhaus-University of Weimar, and the first paper I had written – with the help of my thesis advisor, Prof. Thorsten Hennig-Thurau – was a submission to the 2004 Summer Ed in San Francisco. Considering the Summer Ed‘s status as the largest academic conference in the field of marketing and consumer research, my hope had been that the paper would merely be accepted for presentation.

Late one Wednesday night, a few weeks after the submission, I was having dinner at a friend’s place when Thorsten reached me on my cell phone. He asked me whether I was sitting down, then read me an e-mail: Amidst of a record number of submissions, we had won the Best Overall Conference Paper Award!

Best Paper AwardAt the conference in San Francisco’s Marriott Hotel, after we had accepted our award, a senior colleague took me aside and said dryly: “I’m sorry I have to tell you this, seeing that you just started your academic career, but from now on it can only go downhill for you.” He then invited us to a garlic restaurant called The Stinking Rose (the food was great, but my social life did go downhill for a day or two).

Another wondrous thing happened. After the conference, I did a backpacking tour across the USA, with Las Vegas being one of the stops. One night at 4am, when I returned to the youth hostel at the outskirts of the city, I walked past some faces in the lobby which seemed vaguely familiar. I shrugged it off as one of these coincidences where backpackers travel along similar routes, thus meeting each other again and again, but one of the faces exclaimed: “Victor?! What are YOU doing here?!”

Turns out they were Computer Science students from Weimar who worked in a lab just one floor above my office at the university – and one of them knew my name. They had attended the ACM SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles and also decided to travel afterwards. And this is how I got to know Paul, now the co-founder of Mendeley.

True story!