First Developer Event, I failed but I learnt something   14 comments

I was trying to organize a developer event which was planned to be on the 30th of April 2011. Unfortunately things didn’t go well enough. I was so exited to see developers coming to talk about technology and the challenges, opportunities, treats…. while I was there waiting for the developers, it started raining. For a moment I was expecting it was the only reason and was still full of hope that they will arrive at least after the rain is over. But that was not the case, I should say thank you for those who are respectful and willing to come to the event with all the challenges they had.

We waited for more than two hours for people to arrive, of the 51 people confirmed their attendance on facebook, there were only 12 people including me. I even talked to people I know when I went to Cybersoft, the largest software developer company in Ethiopia. They said they are coming but none were around. I discussed the issue with the people there and got many responses from them. One said ‘It is Saturday afternoon and people would have lots of plan so lets change the day’; the other ‘People need something like snack at the event’.

What ever the case is I have to give it a try again. I am planning for another event after two weeks. I hope you will have your say on the issue. I wish we had one day a strong community of developers, specializing in  different technologies. If you share my dream, say what you think should be done.


Posted May 2, 2011 by Behailu S. in Uncategorized

14 responses to “First Developer Event, I failed but I learnt something

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  1. The obvious mechanism to use here is a (symbolic) registration fee. You can make it obvious that the fee will be used to provide something for them when they turn up (like a snack). But the bottom line is that only having people pay money will give you a more realistic idea of how many people will turn up. Sad, but true. Good luck with the next event, man. Don't give up.

  2. Did you send reminder emails the day before and the day of?

  3. Switch to a week night, have free food, and be patient. 11 people for a first time event, on a Saturday, isn't a complete loss.

    If you build it, they will come. Good luck bro.

  4. 12 is a good start. Don't be disappointed to much keep hanging in there. Don't do more then one a month. Those 12 that were there the first time will help you to get more next time. You only need a few more per meeting to have a big group by next year.

  5. I know what helps to entice devs to go to events like that around here: Food! Try to get a sponsor or someone that can pay for Pizza or whatever type of food local to you that everyone enjoys but is not too expensive. It is no guarantee, but it seems to help.

  6. Hello,

    When I arrange an event, I normally send out a reminder email a few days before the event. In this email, I will ask people if they are still able to attend, and if they can't, whether they can let me know so I can take them off the list.

    There are always going to be some people who can't make it, as a rule of thumb, normally 20%. The reminder email at least helps you better estimate the number of people who will turn up on the day.


  7. Did you post any kind of agenda? Have you thought about inviting speakers, like a past mentor, to present a topic to the group? Food also helps, as does cool swag (freebie gifts just for showing up). Hope you keep the faith and future attempts are more successful.

  8. I would say: Don't do it on Facebook.
    Get a mailing list and a website.

    And good luck.

  9. Ditto the remark about the registration fee. I work with students who are legendary for not turning up. Making them pay two pounds for a ticket worked a treat. Also, brand the event somehow to make it seem more interesting.

    And don't give up. 12 sounds like a good start to me. Just make sure that you give such a good experience that everyone comes back and brings a friend next time.

  10. Thank you all for your constructive comments. People don't even look at what the content of an event is when it comes through facebook. I have to have an email confirmation as you said and a reminder. I hope the Microsoft guys will finalize our domain registration and we will have it soon for the branding. I also have a promise for a sponsorship for the snack.

  11. Well my friend this one of challenges you face when trying to organize a group. Especially when the attendees have different backgrounds and they come from a society where people are not used to…or I can pretty much say are shy to share their thoughts in a small gathering.

    I really don't buy the lame excuses put on the table. If you want something, you would go and get it even if the Tsunami alarm is ringing….come on people, was it really raining that day?

    Some of the things I suggest for the future are, besides the Facebook event add, it could also be wise to advertise the event on local newspapers because this might imply the seriousness of the matter. Preparing an online registration with email alerts could also be a solution for people such as myself who have the tendency to forget things. I also suggest thinking big might not also be a bad idea….you know one of events in huge five star hotels where they serve wonderful refreshments and meal, believe me people love those. Of course you need a reliable sponsor to achieve all the above, but they could be good ideas until the Developers' group gains its momentum.

    Finally, I urge you not to give up on us and not to frustrate. As K'naan put it “T.I.A”!!


  12. I think most of the attendees were not aware of the location of the event; and the location was a bit far away for most of them, at least two devs called me to confirm the location. For the next event, the location should be accessible for most devs with clear description of the whereabouts.

    As we have seen in the previous Microsoft events, most developers assume all events are about marketing and nothing useful. Make sure you let them know the contents of the presentation, technology, topics, areas covered, related materials/blog posts, how it will help them at work & how it will help them be good developers; they want to be sure their afternoon will not go wasted.

    It’s good to hear that we will have the event in two weeks; but it better not be on the date/time of highly anticipated soccer games, because it might turn off most of the devs I know :-(.

  13. Hey Bille, as leader of UG i can advise some things. Holds meetings on workdays between Tuesday and Thursday. Monday (or first day of work week) is bad, people starting to work and have no forces on meetings. Friday(last workday) is bad, because developers can leave the city or get some family affairs. The time for meetings is about +30-40 minutes after work hours ends.

  14. Awesome comments, thank you. I hope the second one will be great.

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