Running a Conference Like A Startup?

I’ve worked with a lot of different events. User groups, code camps, MADExpo (I’d link to it, but sadly the site went away a couple months ago), and others.

They are always the same. If you build it, they will come.

I really don’t want that to sound negative, because it’s not meant to. The leaders in the community are amazing, and lose a lot of sleep making sure an event is a success. And if it’s a free event, they do all that knowing that potentially over 30-50% of the people that promised to attend will skip.

Heck, even a paid event isn’t much better. When we cancelled MADExpo in 2013, I received numerous comments from people saying “Oh, I was looking so forward to MADExpo this year!” That’s awesome! Why didn’t buy a ticket?

Since the cancellation of MADExpo, I’ve been itching to do something new in our area. However, the model of build it, and they come didn’t seem like it worked anymore. At least, not for a new event.

By the pressure of my partner-in-crime, Bret Fisher, I’ve been listening through The Lean Startup. The chapter on building a minimum viable product struct a chord with me. Build the absolute minimum to start the learning process of what people want.

Over the course of two days, I built the minimum viable product for 757DevCon. It’s strictly an interest site. I’m throwing out an idea, and you can register for my list if you want to hear more.

Behind the scenes, I have a series of emails planned out to extract crucial information I need from my potential customers. It’s not so much about what they want from a conference, but what are they willing to pay for?

So what are you waiting for? Go get on the list, and I’ll keep you updated!

I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts. Post them in the comments below.

Originally published on 2014-02-23 in Community, User Groups, and Conferences

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