Kicking off a new chapter for Indie Hackers in Vancouver – May 29, 2019

Kicking off a new chapter for Indie Hackers in Vancouver – May 29, 2019

Last Wednesday a crew of 18 people met to begin a new chapter of Indie Hacker meetups in Vancouver. And It. was. awesome! Osama Khan was my co-host and StreamLabs offered up their meeting rooms for the evening. Big thanks everyone for participating. And a special thank you to Dana Epp for taking on an impromptu moderator role.

Attendees were from a variety of backgrounds. Some are founders of growing SaaS businesses, others are entrepreneurs who had grown and exited their businesses, and many more were were keen to start new projects.

Since this was the kick-off, we didn’t have presentations or guest speakers. Instead, we arranged ourselves into a “discussion circle” format, introduced ourselves to the group, and spoke about our goals and reasons for attending.

Once introductions were complete, we dove into our primary discussion topic for the evening: future meetup formats and desired outcomes of attendees.

I captured some of the highlights from our conversation below.

Formats and desired outcomes

Generally speaking, using the “Unconference” format for our meetup seemed popular. Specifically, formats like Birds of a Feather, World/Knowledge Café and Lightning Talks were the mentioned most and discussed favorably. These formats will be explored for the future.

Below are a few notes about specific formats we discussed in depth:

Brainstorming sessions with other attendees

  • During the introduction attendees can present a topic to discuss/validate/work on with the group. e.g. “I have X problem” or “I have to make a decision between A & B” etc.
  • After the intros, we break into smaller groups seated around tables, in a circle, etc, to help brainstorm ideas.
  • Utilizing the experience of the group can be a significant benefit and shortcut to solving problems.

Lightning Talks

  • Breaking off into smaller groups for multiple short talks happening at the same time.
  • The venue StreamLabs supports lightning talks exceptionally well, with several comfortable breakout rooms & private zones.
  • 5-10 minute talks ensures that multiple presentations & follow-ip conversations can happen in less time than a single-track of presentations..
  • It avoids situations where one or two “large” conversations with diminishing returns can dominate the entire the meetup.

Dinner / Social Events

  • Unstructured sessions over food; e.g. founders dinner at a restaurant.
  • Discussion groups in a pub or similar setting.

What does our ideal meetup look like?

We also discussed the attributes of ideal meetups. There was a lot of discussion on this topic. People found the following traits desirable:

  • Consistent but not overly structured. Consistency was mentioned many time as important to members, but there was also a desire for flexibility in the format.
  • A group that helps brainstorm ideas, gets you unstuck, keeps you accountable and is somewhere you can share your accomplishments.
  • The ability to network and find others to help build projects.

Tools, Tips & Tricks

Finally, attendees shared some really interesting tips to the group:

  • Need Medical insurance? Check with the Chamber of Commerce for 80% coverage plans starting at $120/mo. The BC Tech Association is another great option.
  • Hate time tracking? Check out Timing App. It monitors what you’re doing all day long, and provides you a productivity report. Very handy for tracking time for client work, too!

Reflections

What went well?

  • Real conversations sparked early, and people seemed very engaged.
  • Lots of great ideas for how future meetups could be structured.

What will we continue doing?

  • Meeting once per month. Probably at the end of the month.
  • Informal setting where we promote discussion.
  • Discussion circles! What a great system for keeping everyone in involved in a conversation.

What will we do differently?

  • Remember to take a photo of the event! Argh! 🤣
  • Provide better instructions for finding the location. Many attendees had difficulty locating the entrance. Put up a sign or two.
  • Have the venue set up at least 15 minutes prior, because it will always take longer than expected to set up.
  • Healthy snack options. Any suggestions?

Thank you to everyone who attended, provided feedback, participated in discussions, and stuck it out the whole time–and then some! We stayed an extra hour later than we had planned. Truly that’s a sign of success!

If you have any tips or suggestions for the next event, you can leave a comment below or in the Indie Hackers Vancouver meetup group.

Mike Walker

I am a full-stack web developer with 15 years experience. Recently I have been working with Shopify Plus and WooCommerce eCommerce platforms. I also run The Agency Developer, a blog and newsletter with a mission to inform and educate developers working with digital agencies.

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