Corporate meetup hosting checklist

So recently I was asked how I ran so many meetups at PayPal, and resolving issues of all sorts, from building security, to booking of the actual space, and all the various stuff, so I decided I’d put my process list from back when I was at PayPal here (made generic of course) so that corporate engineers who wish to host meetups have some resource to start with.

  1. Talk to facilities. If you are in a corporate environment, there’s probably a facilities team somewhere. Tell them what you are planning to do, and ask them how to start. They probably have a form that you’ll need to fill up for each event, which is probably automatable if you are an engineer ;) They are also the people to ask about the aircon extension process
  2. Talk to the in house security team to understand what are the documents you need to provide for an event. You wouldn’t want a long queue at the building security counter because that would suck for the attendees. If in house security doesn’t know the building security’s processes, talk to building security yourself.
  3. Talk to PR, and assure them that nothing will go wrong here. Invite them to join for one of the sessions so that they can see it for themselves.
    From Elisha: “I’ll add this: Talk to PR to check if filming the meetup is ok! Assure them that only the talks are recorded, not the office or any of its employees.”
  4. Find money. This is probably gonna be difficult, so you’ll need to pitch to people with money with an angle that appeals to them. For example, you could go to HR and say that this is a cheap way to attract people to work at your company so you don’t have to spend so much on recruitment. And it helps that per session of pizza rarely costs more than SGD$300. Which is a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things in the corporate world.

Once you are done with these items, you’ll probably need a team of volunteers to make this sustainable. So you pitch to the engineers and tell them to bring in their favorite meetups, and that you’ll handle all the paperwork, which you hopefully would have automated by now. Get people to volunteer with the promise of free food (almost always works), and the higher calling of supporting the local community. And you probably only need the team around in the first 30mins of the meetup, after which you’ll only need 1 person (you’ve got to figure out how this works yourself). Have a plan for where people enter from, and where people exit from. Sometimes the most efficient path for each is not the same.

And then you host your meetup!

Key people you should talk to

  1. Facilities
  2. In house security
  3. Building security
  4. PR
  5. Volunteers

And finally, the pizza formula.

Formula for number of pizzas: [(No. Pax on Meetup.com * 0.6 * 2 / 8) or (No. Pax on Facebook Event * 0.4 * 2 / 8)] rounded up to the next multiple of 3

So the 0.6 for Meetup.com and 0.4 for Facebook is basically a indication of the percentage of the sign ups that will turn up at the event. If you think 80% will turn up, change the number to 0.8. And 2 represents that on average, each person will eat 2 slices of pizza, and each pizza will have 8 slices.

My preferred pizza vendor is Pizza De France because they offer a huge variety of flavors, and are nice enough, and are filling enough, even with a thin crust. And having 12 different halal pizzas available is definitely better for photos than only having 3 kinds of pizzas with 4 each. And finally, round up to the nearest 3 because they have a set of 3 medium gourmet pizzas for $45, which is pretty cost effective, and rounding up gives you a buffer against people not having enough to eat.

And that’s it. If you have anything else to add, comment below!

laurence

I am a Senior Engineer with Singapore Power, and have a passion for security and distributed systems. Prior to this, I have worked in companies including PayPal, 99.co, and Nugit. I also headed GeekcampSG from 2012 to 2014, and am currently focusing my free time on social empowerment initiatives including IAmTalentedSG, and CollaborateSG. When not doing work, or any of these stuff, I can be found cafe hopping/taking photos/trekking.

3 thoughts on “Corporate meetup hosting checklist

  • May 28, 2016 at 10:17 pm
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    I’ll add this: Talk to PR to check if filming the meetup is ok! Assure them that only the talks are recorded, not the office or any of its employees.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2016 at 11:49 pm
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    This is a very helpful article. Hats off to the wonderful non conformist Tech culture in Singapore! Shout out to Sayanee for being so kind and the rest of the Hackerspace 12 geeks, Fazli and Luther for inspiring my journey in exploring the geek world. Props to engineers.sg too!

    Reply

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