Where I Went Wrong
Below is a personal article G wrote after his second event ever (back in 2013).
Back then we were on Basecamp - and all the directors would chat in there - like we do now in Slack - only that we helped each other much more - really sad that's not so much the case anymore - never-the-less... i digress...
Where I Went Wrong / Second Event Lessons
Here is an awesome post by Mike that really helped me get going! (moved from Basecamp to HelpScout and now available here: https://help.startupgrind.com/article/449-sponsorship-and-running-my-events)
So I setup my first event and it was awesome, everything worked like clockwork and had amazing feedback.
Sold 39 tickets and 55 people rocked up. 60% had paid the $8 dollar fee (roughly R100) and the rest I gave as VIP, or highly discounted rates (so that I could get bums on seat!)
I spoke to 2 friends and a lady I met via meetup.com and asked if they'd help me put up direction posters to the event (This REALLY helps) and handle tickets at the door etc. They all agreed and together with my Girlfriend we arrived an hour early at event, managed to get students from local video school to do the video (paid them from ticket sales) and did as Mike said, got decent food, a sponsor (on the last minute, PHEW!) and a really awesome venue.
So that was great...
2nd event, and disaster struck, ok, to be fair, I am exaggerating a bit here. To most people the event seemed well organised, but in the back scenes, it was a bit of a mess.
Everything ran so smoothly last time, I forgot I needed backups!
- This time the video school was not able to give video and audio equipment (due to theft, they've stopped this).
- The 2 students for video I organised last time, weren’t able to make it and only let me know 2 days prior.
- My 2nd sponsor pulled out last minute.com
- Because no decent video equipment, needed to organise better sound, and set that up.
So, the day before event I was running around like a headless chicken trying to do my day job, do work on my thesis, get more ticket sales as they weren’t as great as I’d hoped, organise another sponsor (unsuccessfully), Organise video students (and boy are they hard to get hold of :), Organise sound equipment, Organise that my team will be there. geez, i’m tired from just writing this!
The day arrived, managed to get hold of 2 other students who had their own video equipment, managed to hire sound equipment, arranged to pick up my 2 friends and all seemed ok...
the moment arrived...
- My girl (Louise, now my wife...) had major work load
- I had to attend a very important meeting moments before the event started (trust me, don’t EVER do this)
- The door lady was delayed due to major roadworks.
i.e. we all rocked up moments before the event started, and the door lady was late!
Once again… arrive AT LEAST 1 hour before the start time… VERY important, even if you sit around for 45 minutes doing nothing, at least you there and you can make sure all ok!
During all this rushing, I forgot the Startup Grind Banner at my girlfriends house as we were checking it a week prior. Luckily it was her home and not mine (mine an hours drive away). She lives 10 minutes away… only problem, rush hour traffic, took her 45 minutes to get there and back.
anyway, here are some tips:
1.) ARRIVE ALIVE, ARRIVE ON TIME
I thought I’d always be early… but wow, things happen, accidents happen, rush hour, unfortunately, happens :)… Arrive at least 1 hour prior to event starting, and ensure all banners, video equipment, sound equipment, posters, directions, name badges, attendance register etc. are all sorted at least 30 minutes prior (if anything goes wrong, you can make a plan ;)
2.) PERSON AT DOOR IMPORTANT
Attendance register… Eventbrite has an AWESOME app to check ppl in with, but beware there are some major issues (I’ll address below). Because lady at door late, and I was setting stuff up, ppl walked in and didn’t pay, SERIOUSLY impacted on my income, I now have to pay in for this event, and you don’t want this. (it also doesn’t help that my 2nd sponsor pulled out)
3.) GET T-SHIRTS
Try get t-shirts for every member of your team, I’m nearly there, and it really makes a difference to the operation, and the team really like to be part of something cool ;)
4.) PROPER TEAM
I know you are amazing, and yes, you can do it all, but please! Setup a PROPER team, with BACKUPS! The chances of all 5 of us rocking up late is small, but it happened! (below is a list of all my team members going forward)
5.) ORGANISE MEETINGS AROUND VENUE
I know this is hard, but setup meeting as far in the future as you can. I’ve had loads of changes, but I found the best way to approach it is to get the venue, then the date (always show loyalty to the venue as they are expensive and hard to find decent venues).
Once you have a date and venue, then approach speakers telling them exactly the date, time and venue! when I started I did it according to my speakers… trust me, bad idea as they chop and change. Speakers are easy to get, Loads of ppl that love the sound of their voices :)
Once you have a date and a venue, you can organise SOOOO much better!
I have already organised for Oct and Nov, venue has been signed, 1 sponsor signed (still need a 2nd), Video guys can organise between them who will help, Sound equipment booked, Video equipment booked, and I’m lucky as now my speakers are also booked, but should they change, I know I’ll find someone to chat.
6.) USE GOOGLE DOCS
I don’t want my team members on basecamp as they most prob gonna come and go. So I’ve invited them to google Docs and setup a check list of ALL the things they need to ensure is done. They all know what everyone else needs, they all know what’s happening. and before event, i simply go through list and check.
I didn’t do this last time, and I forgot the banner… stupid and obvious thing that you’d think you’d never forget.
This is the team that I setup so far. Each person is responsible for their own part. The video gys get money, the rest of the team get special mentions and they allowed to use my twitter handle and facebook etc to advertise their businesses or themselves etc. i.e. I help them, they help me and we work as a team together.
These are students and there are 5 of them, between themselves they need to organise who are the 2 that are going to attend. I just follow up and find out who the 2 are, and then keep in contact with them till event.
Juhi Sheth, Jacque Maritz, William Culverwell, Garrin Bowden, Bailey van Breda
He just needs to setup sound equipment and mics etc. and ensure no feedback and lay some wicked tracks while guests network.
He has to ensure that our social vibes are rocking! He also checks who is the winner for the twitter competition we run and does a nice chat about who they are, and why they win and what the actual tweet is. He is also responsible for assisting at front of house (i.e. tickets and door)
Front of House
She is responsible for tickets and “at door” sales.
Nisha Ramnath (Bruce Lunnis took over from 3rd event, and was the first person you'd meet when attending our events for over 5 years!)
These guys run around at my command as my little minions :) So they help carry stuff up and down, and they put up all posters and direction posters etc. (They are youngsters and twin brothers and they are loving the vibe)
She currently instructs the host on what to do ;) But yeah, without her help, and her awesome wording, I wouldn’t be able to do press releases etc. The posters wouldn't go up. The banner would not have been in the background of my second event ;)
Louise Krige (My Girl)
Well, I chat to some awesome people and get to chat to you guys ;)
Guillaume De Smedt
Sponsorship & PR
I will be approaching some PR ladies that have been to both events and loving it, So I hope they come on board as my PR managers and also help me find awesome sponsors, as I don’t have time to write Press Releases and approach sponsors.
Wow, this is becoming a long post...
One thing I have learnt as youth leader at my church, and now this event organising… people love it when you give them decent and honest attention, and when you fully include them! If you keep all the ideas of what you want to do and run Startup Grind as a draconian control freak, you are going to battle (imho: in my humble opinion)
The other reason for keeping ppl in the loop, the lady at the door needs to know if you've given someone a free pass or not (I do this to help fill the seats, i.e. someone tells me my sites link is broken, I fix it and give them a free pass, they love the attention and tell all their friends)
If i don’t tell my lady at the door, boy oh boy… it’s a mess, and people fight with her (South Africans are friendly, but some of them are either stingy or aggressive ;)
I have a guy that retweeted me, or something, but he did something for me for my first event, so I gave him a free pass, since that event he is my most loyal customer and sends the most amazing tweets, stuff like this:
— Wayne (@GrowthSpace) September 26, 2013
And that.. is why I do Startup Grind!