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Three benefits of bringing events like BarCamp, Ignite and Startup Drinks to your city

December 9, 2013 by Geoff Wood


An attendee at BarCamp Des Moines signs up to present a session 

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, “The value in bringing a movement to your city”, discussing one benefit of having your community participate in programming like 1 Million Cups, Startup Weekend and TEDx which operate in many cities.

In addition to that benefit — creating a collective, national/global platform for a topic of importance — there’s a few other ideas I wanted to share as I thought more broadly about events like BarCamp, Ignite, Startup Drinks, Startup Grind, etc. that share an overall brand but are organized independently at the local level in cities around the world.

1. Interconnectedness of the organizer network

The organizers behind these events immediately become part of a network with the organizers in other cities. In some cases it’s formal (for instance Startup Grind organizers are “Chapter Directors”) but often it’s just ad hoc. In my experience as an organizer of community-focused events, I’ve had several instances where community builders in other cities have reached out to me asking about event-specific best practices and what we’ve learned over time. Membership in these impromptu networks is a great starting point for conversation around the events and startup communities in general. Similarly, it’s great to have someone to talk to who has an understanding of what you’re working on when things don’t go as planned.

2. Take advantage of frameworks and lessons learned

Designing a new event should never be discouraged, as long as you’re aware of the creativity needed and the risk of failure involved. Bringing one of these distributed events to your community is a good way to mitigate both the creativity need and the failure risk. As a new organizer, you’ll get the chance to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of the organizers who’ve come before you (see the prior point about the organizer network), you’ll get to use the event brand that’s already established rather than having to start from scratch and, in some cases, you might even get a published “playbook” on how to best execute the event from start to finish.

3. Participation, attention and awareness

While any community can organize these type of events, not every community does. In addition to the inherent and intended benefit of the event, just having them is a signal to the community that your city is a place where entrepreneurs and the creative class coexist. These events are also recognizable by name – due to their larger brand – so they’re easy points of integration for people new to the city who want to get involved in the community.

Geoff Wood is the COO of Startup Genome and a community builder in Des Moines, IA, USA. He helps organize BarCamp Des Moines and Des Moines Startup Drinks.

Photo Credit: Greg Hauenstein

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