What it takes to organize a kick ass startup/tech event in India – Part 1

For me, this began with the TEDx conference in Delhi in 2010. Back then, I used to work at SlideShare. That was the first paid event I had attended. I was pretty excited about the whole thing, especially the fact that Rabbi Shergill would be giving a talk. And then I was disappointed. I had a lot of expectations from the event, but there was nothing special. Afterwards, I have attended several tech startup events just to get even more disappointed.

None of the startup events had anything other than funding as their main agenda. The VCs are the heroes. All they talk about is stories about their personal success and tips on impressing an investor. I have stayed in Bangalore for over a year, and have attended the ‘biggest’ annual startup event in Banalore (I won’t name it, but you know what I’m talking about). Forget any silicon, it was plain crap. They spent several hundred dollars to pull the CEOs from large companies and dump all their ‘gyaan’ on the attendees. And the interactions were limited to questions about funding and pitching. Honestly, I have nothing against such speakers. They have done a fair deal of struggle and I respect that. But that’s not what I go there for. I have been working with early stage startups throughout my career and I was curious and eager to learn how other startups work, how they solve their problems and more importantly how exactly do their engineers hack and innovate. But nada! I got nothing.

Color pencils
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ziggy_Mo

And now, fast forward to 2011. I’m working for this newly funded startup in Noida, and I recently met some people who are equally bored of such tech/startup events being held the country and want to do something about it. They are very interesting and are passionate about startups. So we decided to organize our own coffee-table meetups for techies. I had never thought about curating such an event, ever. But the seven amazing people I’m talking about range from hardcore Linux geeks to crazy Apple fanatics. Now hanging out with this exact kind of crowd is any geek’s wet dream . So we started sketching the whole event together. And the game is on!

We quickly agreed on a couple of points. The most important was NOT to have funding as our agenda. And, for that matter, no VCs would be invited to talk, EVER!!. We asked people who have worked on real problems to share their actual experiences. After all, that’s what we geeks are interested in. Another major thing we decided was NEVER to charge the attendees for an event. It wasn’t about affordability but it was about respect. We don’t charge people we love to meet & interact with, do we? We wanted to make sure that the event is both fun and interesting. We wanted people to talk, not speak. We also agreed on having limited number of talks, so we can focus more on sharing and networking with each other. Keeping all this in mind, we started searching for Ideas. One of us found this amazing domain triggr.in which was perfect for the event. We quickly pulled up a website and started calling our personal contacts for suggestions on speakers.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ajleon

We were going to organize a full-day event and we had decided NOT to have a sponsor. So the first thing I did was speak to my employer, who loved the idea and allowed us to organize the first Triggr event in the newly built auditorium for the first event. We sent some emails and put up a registration form on the site.

New CC Office
Creative Commons License photo credit: creativecommoners

And this is today. We are getting great response from the people we talked to. The speakers are enthusiastic. The attendees are curious and hopeful. And we are happy, and proud. None of us has organized an event of such a scale before, but we need to know how the whole thing works. The reason is that we never planned on having one single event. Instead, we are talking about a series of regular tech events which don’t suck! Since each one of us is more or less from a web startup background, we decided to have the first event focused on web. Hence ‘Triggr The Web’. The forthcoming events will be called Triggr The UX, Triggr the SQL & so on. So far we have registered over a dozen attendees, 2 speakers & two media partners. No doubt we are happier. So far so good. On this day we haven’t planned on logistics yet.

Creating, 90/365
Creative Commons License photo credit: Flashy Soup Can

I will write the next post when we have calculated the logistics, planned the budget and have more interesting numbers to share. I hope you will have fun reading it. If you are planning on organizing such an event in your city, let me know. Feel free to ask any questions and suggestions in the comments. Please visit the website Triggr.in for more details about the event which is going to be held on 9th April. Or follow us on twitter @triggrin for latest updates on the event.

So here’s a Hacker calling other Hackers – Lets chill out while the startups change the world. \m/

This post is the first part of a series of posts about the story & people behind the Triggr event. Subscribe to get the remaining parts delievered directly to your feed reader. The Triggr team: @arunpattnaik (me), @aristo, @digbijoy, @sparklinguy, @1ndus, @poojakashyap & @pacificleo

Written by Arun Pattnaik