So a week ago we had the first RookieOven Galleries event in Glasgow. They day worked out pretty well and we had good fun but I thought it would be worthwhile collating some feedback and my own views to share with the community what worked with the event and what didn’t. Hopefully it will help others.
The CCA in Glasgow was great. The staff were on hand to help with set up and the audio visual side of things. It left the organising team (David, Stewart and I) little to do other than register attendees and get the speakers hooked up.
We were in the CCA cinema which opens out onto the cafe/bar where their great selection of beers was thoroughly enjoyed in the networking session.
The Speakers & Sponsors
We were very grateful to our three sponsors, FreeAgent, Boyd Digital and Twig World who not only helped cover the venue and bar costs for the event but also came along on the day to support us. All three companies helped to facilitate discussion and were eager to share knowledge and experience.
We struck gold with the speakers. Colin, Aaron and Brian all gave talks with advice that was distinctly different from the typical event focused on career advice. Colin kicked the event off by sharing his and a frank overview of the realities of ‘Startup Life’.
This was followed by Aaron who looked at the theme of working in startups from the side of an employee and highlighted what they should be looking for in a tech company. As Aaron stressed it’s a two way street and the employer should be trying to woo you as much as you should be trying to woo them.
Brian brought the day to a close with a wide ranging talk which touched on the Scottish startup eco-system. One of the attendees, Kenny Fraser, enjoyed the talk saying “Brian had some excellent insights into how startups build teams and recruit at different stages of their development. He also showed some quality thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of the technology industry in Scotland. I especially liked his point that we all nee to focus on solving real world problems”.
All three talks kicked off debate which engaged the audience. The debates and conversation spilled over to the networking.
The Beer & Networking
I was keen to ensure the best of the monthly RookieOven Meetups would carry over into the Galleries events and that’s the laid back and open atmosphere. I’m happy that in the post talks networking we had guys like David Gauld, Michael Carruthers, Colin Boyd and Alasdair Gunn mixing with young founders and student.
The atmosphere allowed some great conversations to flow with input from those with experience and knowledge being shared not only from the more experience attendees but also from the other direction. In all I would say we succeeded with our goal here.
Getting the word out
We managed to get the word out in a short amount of time (roughly 3 weeks before the day) to not only quite a lot of people but also to interest a varied bunch of people to sign up and attend. to be honest I feel this was more down to luck than anything in particular we tried.
Although I have to say the likes of Tadas Labudis and Allan Lloyds spreading the word through their mailing lists (SIE and StartupDigest respectively) were most definitely a huge aid.
I also found the RookieOven Facebook page to be a great place to promote the event but thats hardly ground breaking.
What Didn’t Work
Social Media on the day
On the day we had little to no engagement on social media. We didn’t have a hashtag, we didn’t do a good enough job connecting attendees online as well as off and we didn’t follow up particularly well (this post is a going up a whole week after the event).
I think the errors are pretty clear and easy to rectify. They might appear obvious now but they were an oversight and we will be sure to try something to improve this next time round.
Free Ticket Hypothesis
Free events are great; clearly. They cost nothing so there’s no pain in signing up. But equally there’s no pain in not turning up. We had 1/3 of our expected attendees on the day.
We are clearly identifying the fact it was a free event caused the number of attendees on the day to be s low. Although that assumption may be wrong (Time of the Year? Day of week? Time of day? are all valid reasons for this), we feel it’s the most likely candidate and the easier one to validate against by introducing a small fee. £5 a ticket sound fair?
I think the last bit we were poor on is down to me. I had the attitude let’s suck it and see.
The event was free. It was out first time. Expectations were low. But i think that’s a poor excuse for how poorly we scheduled the day and how poorly I communicated what was actually happening.
It wasn’t great but it wasn’t a deal breaker as, I feel, we all had a good time and got a lot out of the day. However for next time we will definitely try have to up our game here.
The next step for RookieOven Galleries is to run another event in 3 or 4 months time. We have identified several themes we would love to explore (some of the based of your feedback):
- Failcon type – Have you failed? Stand up and shout about it. Share it with the community so we can learn off of your failures.
- Demo Day – 10 minutes to pitch your product to your peers. No investors, just a room of could be advocates who could possibly become your best sales team.
- Engaging Education – the talent coming out of our Universities is key to the community. What are they currently failing to teach students to make them successful in the tech community?
- CoFounder Dating – can we help marry up product talent (developers, designers etc) with business talent (finance, marketing etc)?
That’s a few suggestions what would you chose or what would you add?