I can Drinkup, and so can you
Hey, you: want to sponsor? Here's how it works.
My intent is to document the process, what we learned and to give you a way to start something in your own city.
In my experience, there are a couple factors that will help significantly:
- Be consistent on both time and location. Our event is the first Thursday at 5pm at [Japps].
- Be active in the groups of which you're already a part.
- Get friends from other groups involved.
A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours. Milton Berle
Leadership is important. If there's one thing I've taken away from this experience, it's that putting someone in charge is not a bad thing. Delegation is important too, but having a small number of people at the helm keeps things moving. When Chris and I decided to change the venue, it was just an email between the two of us. We could have taken a vote or sent out surveys, but we just decided that we had outgrown our space and we found a better location.
We'll never make everyone happy, but people enjoying the events and making meaningful connections are more important to me. Just listen and respond.
Convince the venue that you intend for this to be a long term relationship. Both of our venues had very little traffic on our chosen night prior to our arrival. You'll be growing the group which means better revenue for them as well as new faces who might not have been there before.
You'll need open space, attentive servers and, ideally, control over the audio. Our first venue worked okay, but the music was too loud and the space too small. We outgrew it pretty quickly.
Try to get a private room, too. Keep your group together.
Also, get a single point of contact at your venue so you can communicate via email about events. We set a maximum budget, including gratuity, and you'll want to be on the same page when it's time to close out. As in all things, communication is key.
We wanted to buy the first drink for our group. It's simple and fairly inexpensive, but it's a great way to introduce a sponsor, make new guests feel welcome and get a chance to talk as they walk in, too.
We split the sponsorship levels with absolutely no difference between them. They were just different dollar amounts. The reason was simply that we wanted to give companies of all sizes a chance to participate. Larger, more established companies as well as local startups. There's nothing to distinguish between the two as far as benefits.
Currently, we have two levels: First Drink ($500) and Venue ($300). As of now, we're in a space that has a projector. We put the sponsor logos and a short (140 character) message up on a tweet wall. We also show hashtagged tweets from the event.
Here's a list of past sponsors.
Here's where the work part happens, unfortunately. About a month before, you'll want your sponsors lined up. I send an invoice using Harvest to pre-pay for the upcoming month which is due five days prior to the event. It's linked up with Stripe, so online payment is a piece of cake.
I have a business account where the funds are deposited. I open the large tab and pay at the end of the budget. I'm in communication regularly with the bar about the tab, so I know when to stop handing out tickets.
Feel free to distribute under the Creative Commons Attribution License.