Well, it’s been over a month since my first event, Hatch, and it’s time to take a look back.
This was, without a doubt, the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. It was financially risky, but also had the potential to just not work and make me look like a dummy in front of my friends 😝
At first I was worried no one would buy tickets, but then I got worried that too many people were coming! And running it in my hometown made it especially scary since I personally knew so many people attending.
The Big Idea
Overall, the event was a big success. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. From my survey, 92% said they’d come to a similar event next year. My 10-year-old niece even said, “It wasn’t that boring.” 🎉
My plan was always to make this event simply different. I’ve been to dozens of education conferences, and they all have a sameness that I wanted to avoid. We definitely pulled that off!
- 62 people bought live tickets (50 was my goal).
- Attendees came from as far as the LA Valley, San Diego, and even Arizona! 😳
- Over 200 signed up for online access.
- Virtual attendees came from all over the US, plus a handful of international friends!
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The attendees! What a fun, supportive crowd. You all definitely “got it.” And quite a few met up afterwards for dinner and drinks.
The presenters! Without intending to, we crafted a story in which each talk built on earlier presentations. And I really enjoyed the variety of styles the presenters brought to the stage.
I now think it’s important for presenters to hear each other. It brought a surprising cohesiveness to the day, since we could reference earlier talks.
My family (including my wife, mom, sister, brother-in-law, and niece) took care of a ton of tasks that I simply couldn’t do.
The venue’s vibe. The Bowers’ Museum was a gorgeous place to hold an event. Much more personality than a hotel or conference center.
It’s notoriously difficult to make ends meet with an event. This is why there are usually sponsors on everything at conferences – those pricey tickets don’t even cover costs! I’m super proud to say that after all was said and done, Hatch stayed in the green while still keeping prices reasonable. This money allowed us to:
- Pay presenters. It was very important to me to compensate our speakers, something many conferences can’t afford to do.
- Offer complimentary registration for presenters. It sounds ridiculous, but presenters typically pay to attend the events they speak at.
- Host a presenter dinner. I’ve been to a couple conferences that do this. Before the event, we got together for a night out to talk about the event, but also just to hang out.
- Cover parking fees. I hate showing up to an event, and then rummaging for cash to pay for parking.
- Invest in equipment. We bought two cameras to record future events and a doohickey to live stream.
Tiny details that I liked:
- We set up a second computer that displayed the Hatch logo in between presenters while we switched out their laptops.
- A transition song to hide awkward silences during breaks. This also signaled the start of the next talk.
- Opening entertainment featuring a few of my favorite YouTube videos.
The biggest disappointment for me was the poor quality of sound that we recorded. It was due to a connection in the sound board, and it has gnawed at me ever since. The bad audio also made our live stream (which otherwise worked well!) totally useless.
The lighting, sound, and other technical factors at the venue weren’t amazing. Not terrible, but less than what I wanted. Luckily I could text my wife, who barked orders backstage.
Running a single track event with quick, 30-minute talks of course has its own minuses (limited interactivity, no choice in sessions), but those are simply part of the package.
I’m already lining up ideas for next February’s Hatch and would love to run one in another state (Texas?). I’m also thinking about putting together an event aimed at gifted students and their parents.
Want to help? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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