Our Guide to Starting a Successful Meetup

September 04, 2018
Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes

Co-Founder of RookieOven and Add Jam

I’ll start this with an admission that I’m far from the best meetup organiser, but since the first RookieOven Meetup in 2011 I have learned a thing or two - so here’s my guide to running a successful meetup.


The first thing to consider is your objective. What is the meetup trying to do?

Answering this will inform so many of your decisions - format, date, time, venue, catering etc - so spending the time to think about ‘why’ you’re running the meetup is a good investment.

Let’s use RookieOven as a case study. To be verbose about it; I wanted to get like-minded people with an interest in technology and startups to get together to create useful relationships in a laid-back environment.

What’s your niche?

I’d recommend anyone creating a meetup to be specific about who the meetup is for. Rule one of marketing is market to someone, not everyone and with a meetup, it’s exactly the same.

My niche with RookieOven was “people with an interest in technology and startups”. As niches go that’s actually quite broad but its worked for me. For your meetup be specific, is it around a language or framework like Javascript or Rails? Is it aimed at an industry sector? Is it aimed at a profession or job role such as marketing, sales or design?

There are no right or wrong answers as to what your niche should be but your objective will dictate that to a degree.

What’s your format?

The format is important too and like your niche, there are no ‘right’ answers. And actually, there could be many formats for your meetup group.

For RookieOven, the key things are my niche and, from my objective, being a laid-back environment. A pub meet was a great fit. If my meetup was aiming to educate talks or a seminar type event would be more applicable.

The format has a huge impact on your venue and timings. If you’re looking to do talks you're going to need AV equipment and likely seating. With a pub meet, there’s less to worry about, the pub already has what you’d expect to see.

Consistency is key

RookieOven is the first Monday of each month. Like clockwork. You can rely on us being in a pub having a beer talking tech and startups with anyone that comes along.

That regularity is important. It can be hard to stick to with life and work commitments getting in the way but you really must, to the best of your ability, make your meetup a regular occurrence.

For RookieOven its monthly but your meetup could be daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Whatever the occurrence, be consistent and reliable with it.

Keep at it

Some month there were 3 people at RookieOven Meetups. Equally, there were months with over 70. It’s taken consistency over the last 7 years of each month's event being at the designated venue.

In that time I’ve seen so many great events fall by the wayside, not because people didn’t like them but because the organiser lost heart. It’s a thankless task but something organisers can gain a lot from. For me RookieOven Meetup has enabled me to meet amazing people working on amazing products, it’s given me an opportunity to sit at tables I really don’t belong at and it’s given a host of strong relationships (not just business relationships but great friends in my industry).

Where is your place?

Look at your local environment. What exists already? Where can you fit into your local ecosystem?

For tech in Glasgow, RookieOven is one small link, that plays a role in a bigger community of individuals in tech.

Something that really grinds my gears is competing communities and meetups. Why do it? Try your utmost to collaborate with others if possible.

Should I do it?

If you've made it this far down the post and you can identify an objective, a niche, a format, you can be consistent, you can commit to it long term and you have a place in your local ecosystem? Then by all means yes. Do it.

If you do go ahead, let us know if RookieOven can help with a venue in our coworking space or if we can help shout about what you’re doing.

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