What it takes to organize a kick ass startup/tech event in India – Part 3

What a crazy week! Dozens of real life lessons, hundreds of interesting people, tens of hours of video footage, hundreds of photos, crazy last-minute surprizes and a couple of silly mistakes – this is a glimpse of what happened at Triggr last week. I could almost write a book on the whole experience, but this is going to be a huge post anyway, because of some really cool photos I’m going to include. The event was awesome as expected. I am taking pride in being part of the amazing Triggr team who recieved tons kudos throughout the week.

Glimpses of Triggr season one episode one!

Quick Memories (Not in any particular order)

One of our speakers arrived 2 hours before schedule. Polite enough, he offered to volunteer till the event actually begins. We were surprised, and happy. This is what happens when you call real programmers and hackers to your event. Had it been one of those ‘startup-events’, a CEO would have been already bragging about how beautiful organized the last event was compared to this one.

Just a day before the event, one of our speakers informed us that he won’t be coming for the talk. We panicked. The agenda had been distributed, Emails had been sent. Neither we could reschedule it nor we had time to find another speaker in a day. Just then one of our teammates Vineet Daniel braved up and offered to take up the slot. This was an amazing experience.

Tshirts, badges, laptop stickers, posters, wallpapers. We did everything we could to push the Triggr branding. And people loved it. A friend spotted a laptop sporting the Triggr logo at some event yesterday. It feels good, especially when you’re taking charge of the branding. :)

Right after the event was over, we were gearing up for a photoshoot. And the ‘official gesture/style of trigger’ (which you can see in the picture in the top) was decided in the last few seconds. Moral: the most wonderful decisions are taken quickly. Don’t be afraid of being spontaneous.

During the event, we did a small experiment. We displayed the live twitter feed with the official hashtags #triggr & #ttw every once in a while. And everytime we did that, the audience were excited to see their own tweets on the screen. This triggered (no pun intended!) a chain effect, the audience kept tweeting to see their tweets on the screen. That means more followers to them, and more reach for Triggr. A win-win situation.

As mentioned in my last post, we had decided we won’t take any sponsors for the first event. And saying NO to sponsors was a weird experience. The first sponsored whom we politely refused told us that we are sounding rude by refusing a sponsorship request and making a mistake. But we knew that we weren’t. We refused the sponsorships not because we were showing attitude, but because we knew this was our first event and we didn’t want to disappoint anybody except ourselves, the organizers, in case something goes wrong. But now that we pulled it off nicely, we are eager super-duper-excited to talk to sponsors for our next event in the series!

My first post in this series almost went unnoticed, but the second one almost went viral! And that got more and more people interested. And this is how one should go ahead with any kind of a launch. You keep talking to people about your product and they will eventually tell others about this. This is exactly what makes the internet so amazing.

10 things we learned (the hard way)

  1. You will definitely screw something up at the last moment. If you don’t, you’re not giving your 100%.
  2. You need to be with the right kind of people with the right kind of mindset for organizing an event of this scale. Stay away from leechers who make big promises and are never seen working.
  3. Never underestimate the power of a tweet or a phone call, a potential sponsor/speaker might be a phone call away.
  4. There will always be shameless spoilsports around you, who would make fun of you & try to pull you down to their level when you take pride in organizing the event. Ignore them and take ownership of what you do.
  5. Even the best programmers in the industry are human. Give them a call, be polite and they will love to show up. Believe in what you are doing. Be honest, be good.
  6. Don’t assume anything! If you’re confused, ask again. If you’re still unsure, ask again. Keep asking until you get things right.
  7. Follow up! There will be people who will signup and forget. Make sure you reach them personally and remind them of your event. This will not only ensure their presence, but also generate trust for you instantly.
  8. Be prepared for going over capacity and keep a robust fallback system. Keep the extremes in mind like ‘what if we get more people than we can accomodate? What if there is a food shortage? What if the project fails? What if the lamps burns out? ‘ and even ‘What if an attendee gets a heart attack?’. Added to that, triple check every equipment and have a backup ready. Having said that, people are very forgiving. If something goes wrong and you stay honest, most chances are that the audience will forgive you and appreciate you for being transparent.
  9. Don’t rely 100% on anyone, even the other organizers. Even though they are fully focused, everyone has a lot to do. Things might get delayed if you don’t share responsibility. A good team member ensures that everyone else in the team is working well. And your team is only as awesome as your least performing partner!
  10. Twitter is huge! Keep an eye on twitter updates throughout the event. There are people who won’t tell you what they want, but will tweet to their thousands of followers if they don’t get what they expected.

Bonus tip: Apart from being informative, organizing an event is great fun. You should definitely curate one for your niche or try to volunteer for one that is already happening nearby. The COO of Startup Weekend Shane Reiser writes why you should organize such an event in your city. I would highly recommend it to you if you visit such events often.

That’s it. As of now, I’m sitting in my office, watching the recorded sessions of the talks, holding a cup of coffee and eagerly waiting for the next event ‘Triggr the Mobile’ on May 14th! Hope to see you there! Trust me, you definitely don’t want to miss that! ;)

Cheers!

Written by Arun Pattnaik