As some in the Bahrain Tech community know, I have been doing meetups, more specifically Bahrain Web Tech Meetups for some time now. Meetups focussed on online startups, webpreneurs and web tech geeky stuff. And with great pleasure I may add.
For setting up these meetups I have been using meetup.com, a great tool to organize meetups online, keep track of attendance, scheduling and so on. I have also been using social media for promotion purposes. And it has been working out pretty well. We have grown to a group of 172 people and I have “regulars” coming to meetups often.
Bahrain Web Tech Turning Two This Year!
Twenty-seven meetups have been organized so far and I met all kinds of great people. This meetup will turn two come September this year. I would say that is quite an achievement. And I could not have done it without the help of the locals and Saudis that have joined these meetups.
Types of Meetups
We have done general networking meetups, workshops by others like a UX / UI (User Experience Testing) by Nadine Zein, A RoR workshop by Jabran, a workshop on online tools (Cloud Apps) for startups by Hussain Radhi, one on Docker by Mohammed, Al Sahaf AngularJS by Husain Abdali, Building Better WordPress sites with Roots, WordPress Security and so on. Great meetups each and every one of them.
Venues Getting Better and Better
The venues we have been using have consistently improved. I have done general meetups at coffeeshops like Costa Coffee Al Hayat Mall, workshops at places like 4Spots – thanks to Hassan AL Doy for the introduction – and Omnitech and Vortex Gaming Bahrain (shut down now).
I have had my frustrations lately though as people tend to RSVP yes and in great numbers sometimes, but then in the end do not show up at all. Preparing for workshops takes time and for each and everyone we we look forward to meeting people, networking and learning from each other. So no shows can be rather disappointing. And what is worse quite a few do not change their RSVP. This though I email them regularly telling them more details on upcoming events, reminding them of the possibility to change the RSVP.
So what is it with the RSVP-ing and last minute cancellations, often without notification? Is that more common around these parts? Or are people simply less familiar with online booking systems and these kind of meetups? Do they perhaps consider RSVPs this way to be non official and so easily discarded?
Another issue, or something I wonder about at least, is the amount of people showing up. Though in general I cannot complain, and have had the pleasure of meeting great people, the meetups are not that large. Often 5-8 people max turn out. This while I know the tech community and entrepreneurs needing an online business in Bahrain and its neighbor Saudi Arabia is not to be underestimated.
How to Improve?
So how come it has not grown to something bigger and how come the no show rate is so large? What is missing in these meetups to make them more successful? Is it exposure or the general setup of things? That is something I would like to find out. If you do bump into this blog post do let me know your thought. Thanks!