We organized our very first event just by ourselves.
I'm a big believer in events & building communities --> It builds our brand, and in the long run, it will bring in new customers.
I don't have that much experience in organizing events, but I thought it couldn't be that difficult. You can, of course, a lot of hours organizing events like Nordic Business Forum and making everything top-notch.
I believe most of the things that perfection is the biggest opponent of profitability, and therefore I tried to identify the most important things and focus on those also, mainly because we don't have money or time to throw anything special.
I think it ended up great because the average participant feedback from 1-10 was 9,23.
Setting up the goals for the event
I think having a clear goal is important when you start doing something like this. We had two goals with this one.
1) Main goal: To build TalentBee brand in potential customers TA leads / Head of Recruitment / Recruiters/Founders
2) To build TalentBee’s brand as a great workplace
Finding an event space
I happened to be speaking at an Epicenter event a few months back with Naava's Co-founder, Aki Soudunsaari, and he mentioned that they have a great showroom where you can organize events. The location was perfect in downtown of Helsinki, and the space was super nice as well, so we decided to book that one for us!
Getting the speakers to the event
Before we started promoting the event, we wanted to ensure we had great speakers lined up. I approached this from a few different angles:
1) What topics are interesting to the audiences?
2) Are there some persons/companies that are well-known and would make people sign-up for the event?
3) Who do we know already and will get excited to join the event as a speaker?
Our format for the event was quite simple. 10min speeches followed by small workshops/discussions with the participants.
Eventually, the speaker lineup & topics were:
Otto Hilska, CEO & Founder, Swarmia: How to hire a world-class tech team?
Heini Matero, Lead Technology Recruiter, Relex: How does Relex use references to hire people efficiently?
Emmi Marjetta, Talent Acquisition Manager, and Samuli Salonen, CEO & Co-Founder of TalentBee: Where to Invest your time and Where to use AI in the Hyper-Growth Stage of SaaS Company
Timo Felin, Investment Director at Vendep Capital: What do VCs expect from talent function when raising capital?
Saara Kyllönen & Siiri Laaksonen, Co-Founders of TalentBee: State of SaaS Talent Acquisition - Learnings from interviewing + 50 Finnish SaaS companies
Starting the promotion
Our promotion plan for the event was quite straightforward. We knew that we would like to end up with around 50 - 60 people, so let's invite around 80 people because there will be no-shows. I think this is a big challenge with free events.
Step 1: Create a list of potential participants. These were mainly people in 2 categories: Our current customers & potential customers for the future.
We created a list of around 100 people like this and invited all of them. From these, around 50 people said yes.
Step 2: Open promotion to LinkedIn - Posting from our personal profiles that we are organizing an event like this.
We started inviting people to the event around six weeks before, and it got full in around two weeks. Personally, I was super happy with this.
How to make sure there wouldn't be a no-show?
I've heard from multiple event organizers that there are always no-shows. We tried to get rid-off late cancellations by sharing this in our calendar invite & reminder emails to participants:
"First things first: It seems that we will be fully booked. Please let us know if you cannot join, and we will free up your space for someone else."
Still: In the last 36 hours, around 30% of the participants canceled. I understand that for sure someone had some real reasons, but to be honest, this pisses me a bit personally for two reasons:
1) These people took places from others who would have liked to join the event but couldn't because we were full already.
2) We bought food & drinks for everyone - And now part of that went un-used. Money not so well spent.
But this is a great learning to me as well to see the other side of the table. I have done that personally many times and I have canceled my participation in the event a day prior.
Food & drink - without a proper budget
If you have worked in a start-up, you know it means thinking a lot about where you can invest money. Luckily we have money & we can invest in things, but we try to figure out where it makes sense. We wanted something fun that goes with our brand & that was affordable.
We ended up with the following:
1) Killer Bee smoothies from Jungle Juice Bar
2) Cheeseburgers from Mcdonald's (some vegans as well!)
3) Our honey as a "souvenier" from the event for everyone.
Feedback from the participants
At the end of the event, we asked for participant feedback. It makes sense to use 2 minutes of time while people are there - If you send the feedback survey afterward, most people won't reply.
Here are the questions we asked & what kind of results we got:
Question 1: How would you rate the event from 0 - 10 (10 being the best)
Answers: Only 8, 9 & 10. Average 9,23.
Question 2: What did you enjoy the most about the event?
Answers: Short speeches, specific themes, workshops, great atmosphere & fun event
Question 3: Would you join again if we organized another event like this?
Answers: 100% yes.
Question 4: How would you make the event even better?
Answers: More timely topics, more time for workshops, more time for Siiri & Saara to share market insights, from 5 topics to 3-4 topics & the most important: Double cheeseburgers for the next time.
Question 5: Would you like to hear how TalentBee could help you acquire talent and get some ideas for your TA?
My note: Before I go to answers to this question, I must admit that adding this question was the single best decision I made on the event.
1) No thanks. I'm not interested.
2) We are already a happy customer 🐝
3) Yes, let's have a chat!
4) We don't have hiring needs right now, but it would be great to have a chat anyways for future needs!
21 companies chose either 3 or 4 and wanted to chat with us. When I saw this result and the 9,23 happiness, I thought it was money well spent.
Total costs of the event
Here is the money we used for the event:
Our own hours:
1) Planning, getting the speakers & participants around 10 hours.
2) On The event day, five persons use around 7 hours each = 35 hours.
So around 45 hours in total. It's a good question about calculating the € of these hours. Maybe our average invoicing rate is around 120€ at the moment. Then it would be 5400€.
Actual money used:
1) Smoothies: 367,50€
2) Mc Donalds: 237,5€
3) Water, colas, paper, trash bags, etc: around 100€
So not that much: Happily, all of our speakers were happy to speak without a speakers fee & Naava offered us the space to use free of charge.
As a start-up founder, I appreciate those things super much. We couldn't have organized this event without Naava & our speakers, so thank you.
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