Another year has come and gone and with that DDD Sydney!
Last year I wrote about what I learnt organising DDD Sydney for the first time and I wanted to talk a bit about what happened this year and see how many of the points I raised last year we were able to address.
Well this time we decided to give us more than 2 months to organise the event. The DDD Sydney crew started talking around the start of this year about how we'd go about it, nothing concrete, but an initial “who wants to be involved” and “what needs to be done”. Since we didn't talk about a date (and didn't for a few months) we had no time preasure which in and of itself was a problem, no one was super motivated to make it happen.
After a few months of relative inaction we started doing a few things, we started by setting up a few of the essential services we meant to do last year, an O365 subscription + Azure, so we can stop running things off our personal accounts (and to look more professional when emailing than just a gmail account).
Admittedly we still had a bunch of stuff we didn't do early enough, we didn't lock a venue in until April, so more like 3 months lead time this year 😛.
Sponsorship and Finance
As I mentioned last year money is one of the hardest things about organising an event, thankfully we had some leftover cash from last year which meant that we could address a few early expenses before sponsors dropped.
For the sponsors this year Steve Godbold put together a strong sponsor pack and we were able to lock in a good number of sponsors. We also got this out well in advance meaning that we have sponsors paying their invoice before the event, helping the cash flow situation. Our one downside this time was having the event just after the start of a new financial year, so a few of the potential sponsors we talked to simply didn't have budget left. Next year we'll look to engage sponsors much earlier on, even if the event is to be later in the year.
We had a new growth of our 10% this year, which I'm happy with, it shows that we've started reaching out to more communities and our brand recognition is growing. To help with this we did a lot more pushing to User Groups around Sydney, especially the Women in Tech orientated groups, this reflected in an increased female contingent and we've already received some feedback on ideas to make it even more accessible to people for next year.
While attendee growth is important we also saw a growth in speakers, we had around 50 submissions this year (for 15 slots!), over 200 votes cast and 4 first time speakers which is the one statistic that I'm most excited by, DDD Melbourne was where I got my start too 😄.
Listening to Feedback
While there was a bunch of stuff to address just based on what we learnt doing it the first time we did listen to the feedback that our attendees provides us with. One of the main pieces of feedback from the 2016 event was around the food, we only just had enough food last year. This year I decided to listen to my wifes advice and let her take the lead on that, after all she has worked in marketing/sales in the food industry for the last 7-odd years. The main thing she pushed for from our supplier was pre-packed lunchboxes for lunch rather than the traditional sandwich platter/hot trays/etc. and this worked a treat. By having everything pre-packaged lunch was a ‘pick a box and go’ for attendees and it removed the feeling of inequality (“hey, they took a bigger plate than me!"). Having read this years feedback it seems the food was a highlight (well, behind content and people obviously :winking:), the only negative food feedback was that we had too much!
We've got some other feedback we'll be looking to incorporate for next years event, but I'm not sure who the smartass was that submitted this piece though 😛:
getting Aaron to shave off his beard as a charity event :-)
That… probably won't happen (I haven't been clean shaven for around 2.5 years now).
So onwards and upwards, we're taking a well earned break before starting to plan for DDD Sydney 2018.