- Chew On This
- 🥗 We Hosted a 148-Person Dinner. Here's What We Learned
🥗 We Hosted a 148-Person Dinner. Here's What We Learned
Welcome back for another bite to chew on
This week, we threw our very first dinner of 2024 with over 148 attendees in NYC.
If you ask the GOAT - Nik Sharma - it was one of the best events at NRF this year, so yeah… we’re pretty proud of ourselves
In this week’s newsletter, we’ll give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes view into how we planned everything out, and how it all went down.
The good, the bad, and the ugly…
It’ll be a fresh breeze of air compared to our normal DTC-heavy newsletters, so let us know whether you want us to talk more about this stuff or just stick to DTC Stuff.
Let’s dive in.
Finding the Right Venue
We knew finding the perfect venue was absolutely crucial to setting the stage for meaningful dialogue between founders and sponsors.
It had to wow every single person in the room.
This is always a non-negotiable for us.
We landed on Allure in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for its skylight overlooking the dining area, 17-foot marble bar, and elegant outdoor patio.
Go big, or go home, right?
The vibe was exactly what we were looking for to fit our goal of facilitating deep founder connections in a setting worthy of a ton of visionaries.
We worked closely with their team ahead of time to completely transform the dining layout into something more conducive to networking conversations and moving around rather than the usual seated dinner service.
Making sure we have a Sponsor & Attendee Match
As a founder, the worst thing I know is going to an event where none of the vendors / tools / sponsors that are there can benefit my business.
On the other hand, one of the best things I know is when there’s a perfect match between my business, what I need, and who is there to help me get to where I need to go.
When this happens, it’s like a match made in heaven for both sponsors and attendees.
So - that’s what we try to optimize for.
Here’s how we do it;
1) We put together an initial attendee list, and filter it by company size, industry, employees, and now also YoY Growth Rate
2) We already have a pretty good understanding of what needs the business owners have depending on what stage their business is in.
For example - if we host an event with mostly 6 & 7 figure founders, then it doesn’t make sense to have OpenBorder (an internationalization tool) or Proxima (Meta AI audiences for brands spending +100k / month) at the event.
Again - because there’s simply not a good founder / sponsor fit.
Instead, good tools for them could be Saral (for influencer search), Social Snowball (for affiliate management) , or Plastiq (for getting longer payment terms on their credit card)
However - if the brand is full of high-7 and 8-figure brands, then there will be a good fit for partners who can HELP founders grow their company to the next level - for example through internationalization.
3) We take the list of founders to potential sponsors that could be a good fit, and ask if they want to sponsor the event
However - we don’t just take cash from any sponsor who’s willing to sponsor the event.
We start by asking tools that we personally use in any of our 3 companies, because WE know the value they can provide.
If we don’t use a tool, and they want to sponsor - then we’ll go to our immediate network / the logos and case studies on their website and make sure that their tool actually adds incremental value to founders.
Again - we’re founders ourselves, who also just throws a few events, so we know that the worst thing as a founder is to get pitched a tool that adds 0 incremental value to our business
PS; If you want to get to know more about some of the sponsors from this last event - see the screenshot below.
All Hands on Deck for Setup
The day itself took a TON of coordination.
Our team arrived 3 hours before the event to get everything ready to wow our guests.
We handled every detail ourselves:
- Changing the venue layout
- Arranging the décor
- Our signature recovery kits
- Name tags
- Check-in booth
and so much more.
Seeing It All Come Together
Once the doors opened, the energy was insane.
Complete strangers connected over cocktails and bonded instantly thanks to their shared passions.
… and the best thing was that people actually stayed.
Now - if you’re unfamiliar with NYC event culture, people just normally come and check things out, have a few drinks, some food, and then bounce to the next event right after.
Seeing our community stay 4+ hours straight until the very end was the ultimate validation that we designed an experience founders wanted more of.
By the time the last Ubers pulled away after midnight, we were completely exhausted but fired up to take things even further next time with the feedback we got.
What Worked & What’s Next
We were proud of the meaningful dialogue sparked between founders and sponsors.
All the connections made will pay dividends for a long time.
But a few areas of improvement also stuck out.
Here’s what we want to work on for next time:
Increasing female founder attendance
This is a topic we care deeply about. We want to find more female founders and operators who can come and inspire other females in the community.
For this event, we had about 30 female founders/operators out of 148 guests - which is decently good compared to many other events, but still not good enough.
Engineering more 1:1 connector meetings between sponsors & founders
Although we already have a pretty solid understanding of what problems founders have - we can always improve and make the vendor list even more contextual to their specific problems.
We haven’t yet figured out how to do this at scale - but for the next event we’ll try to have a form where you can fill out more details on what you are struggling with + what you’re looking to get out of the event
We don't like sit down dinners but we know no one eats enough standing up
Yeah this we don’t have a solution for yet, but if you do - then feel free to hit us up!
We want to work with brands to further activate the event
Drinks from DTC brands, snacks from DTC brands, goodie bags made up of DTC brands, etc.
We live and breathe this community - so if you want your DTC goodies displayed at our events - hit us!
We need more people
Right now - we’re only 2.5 people setting up over 40 events across the entire nation.
NYC is our home-base, so we had a little bit of an unfair advantage when it comes to making sure that everything runs smoothly.
However - we definitely need more hands to help us with everything. Especially as we grow and go to cities we’ve never been to before.
How do you manage to throw a ton of events while also making all the other parts of the business run smoothly?
So, this is a question that we get a lot.
… and the honest answer is that - the only way it’s possible is through the help of our incredible team.
For the event planning, sponsorships, coordination, etc - we didn’t spend a single hour on any of that.
That was all taken care of by the team
For the event itself, we left the office a couple hours earlier and stayed up until late in the evening.
And the only reason why we could do that is because of our incredible team at Obvi, Coffee Over Cardio, and Paw Rangers.
So - the questions is not so much “how do you find the time to go” , but more so; “how do you build a team that lets you go while still making sure that everything runs smoothly”
Had it not been for the different teams we have across the different companies - we would’ve never been able to host, and let alone go to the amount of events we go to.
It’s all the team’s work. We’re just the faces you see online :)
Tool of the Week
Speaking of incredible teams that help us out BIG TIME.
Enter Numeral. These tax heroes swooped in to handle our entire sales tax operation.
Sales tax forms fry our brains.
The rules are confusing. The deadlines are crazy.
And somehow we always end up owing more money than we planned?!
We used to waste HOURS every month trying to do our sales tax ourselves. Total time suck with nothing to show for it.
Now everything gets done FOR us, no brain cells required.
We get back all those hours each month to focus on our businesses while professionals we trust make sure we stay 100% sales tax compliant.
No surprise fines!
Do yourself a solid and let Numeral take this thankless chore off your plate.
Your mental health and bank account will thank you.
Thanks for reading along
We hope you liked this newsletter - although it was a little bit different that what you’re used to receiving from us.
Your feedback matters A LOT, and we read every single email we get in.
So if you DON’T like this type of content, feel free to shoot your feedback by replying to this email.
We can’t wait to see what the rest of 2024 has in store for the DTC community.
We’re thankful to be able to serve a small part of the community with the resources, knowledge, and skills that we have at our disposal.
All the best
Ron & Ash