It’s been a little over a week since we co-hosted the Shopify meetup here in Bangalore, along with the Marmeto team. With 4 speakers, one panel, and 160 attendees, this was one of the largest Shopify Meetup hosted in India.
For every Meetup, there is an agenda set on what the hosts want to achieve. What was ours?
For the long run, we wanted to create and foster a close-knit Shopify community in Bangalore. But our short-term goal was to ensure that attendees would gain something new.
But, how do you even start organizing a Meetup?
Organizing the event became all too real once we put up the Meetup details online. The number of people registering for the event was way more than we imagined. And that was when we had to get our head out of the clouds and begin planning.
Curating Our Speakers & Agenda
We knew that among our attendees, we had folks who were either planning on starting their first online store or others who were looking for tips in scaling up their business. It would have been a huge mistake to cater to one and exclude the other.
And that realization became our guiding principle in shortlisting our speakers.
We invited two established merchants. Raghav Somani from Headphone Zone (a store which caters to audiophiles and sells premium headphones) and Pragya Batra from Quirksmith (a brand specializing in handcrafted silver jewelry). Both merchants had different stories about growing their brands from scratch with limited capital, something that all budding entrepreneurs could take a cue from.
Finance is tricky, and a store owner usually has several issues regarding different payment methods. This is where the PayPal team stepped up to address these problems for our merchants with their insightful talk.
Dropshipping is a popular business model for many Shopify merchants. Which rounded off our speaker line-up for the evening with Ritoban Chakrabarti, a dropshipping expert who has a huge following on his YouTube channel Flying Start Online.
The final session of the evening was a panel discussion chaired by Vargab Bakshi from the Shopify India team. The panel consisted of Raghav Somani from Headphone Zone, Pragya Batra from Quirksmith, Ritoban Chakrabarti from Flying Start Online, Shashank Kumar from PushOwl, and Sachin K from Bare Blow. These panelists were chosen to give our attendees a well-rounded perspective of the Shopify ecosystem.
How did we get PayPal as our event sponsor?
You need to have a two-way relationship with any sponsor — it has to benefit the sponsor as well as the event organizers. Before talking to the PayPal team, we asked ourselves what value could our event provide for them? The answer came easily … since dozens of merchants were expected to attend, which is PayPal’s target audience, we were certain PayPal would benefit.
With them on board, we were able to spend more for an amazing spread of snacks and food. Logistics like venue management, splitting up various responsibilities (guest registration, goodies, standees), etc. was an integral part of planning the event, but it was a piece of cake compared to coming up with an amazing lineup.
Attendees started pouring in from 1:30 pm, with the registration desk on hand to greet them with a few goodies. Before the talks started at 3.15 pm, guests had ample time to mingle with each other and make new acquaintances. An experience zone set up by Marmeto provided merchants with technical fixes for their store. Many non-Shopify users also signed up to start their own store.
Once the sessions began, all eyes were on stage. The highlight of each talk was the Q n A session which followed, making the Meetup an interactive and learning experience for everyone involved.
After the talks, attendees stayed back to network with other Shopify stakeholders. It was a great opportunity for people to share their experiences and connect with others from the Shopify ecosystem.
It Can Get Better
Managing any event is hard. As first time organizers, we had a lot of learning to take back after the event. Being one of the largest Shopify Meetup in a country doesn’t make it the best. Post-event, here’s what our team felt could have been better.
- We didn’t stick to the schedule. As it happens, we ran into a few technical difficulties which caused a delay.
- If we had done a run-through of the event, we could have avoided some gaps that we didn’t expect. With a mock run, the event would have seen fewer challenges.
- Due to our last minute run-through, we missed out on testing the equipment available at the venue. We could have easily avoided the feedback from the mic and the issues with the clicker if we had done a run-through.
- While each speaker stuck to the time allotted to them for their talk, we failed to account for the questions that followed each talk, leading to longer delays.
- Having a small break between the talks would have helped to break the monotony of sitting for a 3-hour long session of talks.
- Our event could have used more interactive activities than the traditional sit-down sessions. We saw this when the audience came alive during the panel discussion and the QnA’s for the speakers.
- We didn’t put the goodies to use until we were at the end of the event.
- We should have made pre-event calls to confirm RSVP. We expected around 250 guests at the event, but these calls would have given us an accurate number.
We’ll be taking these lessons to heart and coming up with a bigger and better Meetup in the near future!
What can you expect next time?
More experience zones.
And more attendees.
We hope our experience helps you while planning your Meetup, Shopify or otherwise. What hacks do you have up your sleeve when organizing a Meetup? I’d love to know!