Lesson #9: Fireside Chat Events

Let’s talk Fireside Chat

Our fireside chat events have three segments, typically an hour each: 

The first hour is a time to serve food and help the attendees make friends.  You could say it’s networking, but we aim to make it much more than that.  You, as the Director, are responsible to greet each attendee with a warm welcome, get to know them a bit and see if you can help them make a valuable connection (often to someone there in the room).  You and your team will ensure their experience stands out from other events.

The second hour is for the interview and the Q&A time.  We call it a fireside chat for a reason - it is meant to feel like an intimate conversation.  Think of it as assisted storytelling, if you will.  It is your job to get them to be real and help them tell their story.

The final hour is another chance for attendees to connect with each other more and to meet the speaker.  


  • A Classic Startup Grind Chapter hosts 12 events per year to build a community; 10 fireside chat events and 2 community parties (mid year and end of year).  You goal is to have 50+ people at each event.
  • A Startup Grind X Chapter (SGx) hosts 5 events per year to spark a community; 4 fireside chat events and 1 community party.  Food is optional and the overall event may be shorter. Your goal is to have 20+ people at each event.
  • A Startup Grind U Chapter (SGu) hosts 4 events during their school year; 4 fireside chat events and perhaps 1 community party. Food is optional and the overall event may be shorter.  Your goal is to have 20+ people at each event.

Not sure what type of chapter you are?  Email your community manger to ask: ford@startupgrind.com.  

For more info on event types visit this category in the help library: http://help.startupgrind.com/collection/10-event-types

Let’s go over the details to set up for an excellent Fireside Chat event.


Front & Center

Banners are a centerpiece of every event and fireside chat. It is important to have a great banner so people know where they are (easily identifiable in videos and photos taken by the media in the audience as well!) and also represent the high quality of the event itself.


As long as you use the correct art files included in your custom art assets and print it the correct size (33×80 inches) minimum, you are free to use whichever vendor you like. We typically recommend FedEx Kinkos in the US, as our art assets are tailored to their banner sizes. Still any print shop should be able to use the assets to print out a standard retractable banner.

There are a few brand guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to the startup Grind banner.  It is important to remember that you cannot add logos, sell it to sponsors, or alter the banner art assets in any way. Other sponsor banners cannot be placed in the center of the stage or next to the Startup Grind banner. You are free to set them off to the side or somewhere else in the room, but they cannot be inside the camera angle.


Food Is Great :)

Food is a great way to encourage networking and a more social atmosphere. It also helps keep people from leaving early to go eat since they most likely came to the event straight after work. Like video, we do not have any strict requirements when it comes to food other than it is something that easy to serve and eat while standing and networking.

A couple of tips that have worked in the past:

  • Try to find a local sponsor or even restaurant that is willing to offset cost by ordering in bulk. This not only gives you a great price, but also helps the local businesses and entrepreneurs in your area.
  • Serve food before the event making it easier for people to network and make friends from the start.
  • Try to make sure the food is set up in a way that it is easily approached and served. If applicable, have food near sponsors that helped pay for it.

NOTE: Food is optional in SGx and SGu chapters but required in classic chapters (larger cities/metro areas).

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Most Startup Grind events are very simple get-togethers. But, by hosting consistent events each month you attract sponsors and as time goes on you are able to afford amazing visuals, such as this example of Startup Grind Cape Town:



One unique piece of Startup Grind events around the world is filming and video (not required, but often recommended). Aside from our great community and even greater directors, video sets us apart from other local networking/educational events. When you have 40 attendees come to an event, only 40 are impacted, but once it is put online it can help entrepreneurs around the world. Having a very good AV setup is crucial and it is essential to figure out how to set up video for the first event and continue on at a monthly basis.

When it come to video we do not have any strict requirements aside from getting the very best video and audio possible. The better the video (at least 720p if possible) and the better the audio (wired audio/direct line to the camera) the more likely people will actually watch it.

Here is a great example from Stockholm in Sweden:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9duAHCtZaw


The last requirement we have is to make sure the official Startup Grind bumpers are added to the front and end of the video.  Those are found here:  http://help.startupgrind.com/article/187-video-bumper

For many more event production tips visit this category in our help library:  http://help.startupgrind.com/category/68-venueset-up


Important Things To Check

Once you have a great speaker, date has been set, and you have prepared for your interview, it is time to make sure you plan the logistics in advance to let everything go as smoothly as possible.

  • Check-in is very important as it is one of the first impressions entrepreneurs get. Try to have greeters at the door to welcome everyone in and point them in the right direction towards the registration table.
  • At the registration table have some sticky name tags for attendees to wear to aid with networking. If you decide to sell tickets at the door, have a Square reader handy. If you also decide to take cash it is recommended you take some small bills for change and maybe a receipt booklet.
  • Check all logistics in advance! Seating and food (on time and enough), AV (sound feed to camera, microphones, feedback, enough memory on camera, battery).
  • Before you get on stage get out and talk to anyone and everyone, directors truly set the tone for the rest of the community. Be the most helpful person in the room.


Next Lesson - Community Party Events