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What’s this Open Coffee thing?
About a hundred years ago, in 2006 or so, there was an upswell of “digital community” activity in the form of Open Coffee Club Belfast and BarCamp Belfast. I have to say, it was a rare time. There were cafes packed out with people and possibility and some of the smartest people I ever met were just hanging around in these spaces, these temporary spaces designed to just connect people.
My company sponsored some of these early efforts in order to see what could be done in this space. How would this change the face of Northern Ireland and how could we work together to create new and exciting things.
These days, most of the meet-ups have gone completely corporate. The admission to a meetup is a Linkedin Connection to their HR department or implicit permission for recruiters to get in touch. Dressed up in free pizza and beer, the aim of the meetups has been submerged in the rush for talent.
This is the part where we say we ain’t like that.
A couple of months ago we took over some of the admin functions of the Silicon Drinkabout group on Meetup.com. You’ve probably been inundated with a number of meetup groups dissolving as Meetup works to monetise their networks – I’ve certainly wrestled with the idea of letting some groups die while allowing others to keep going and in the end I chose Silicon Drinkabout because, at its core, it’s the direct descendent of Open Coffee Belfast. And Open Coffee Belfast spawned the BarCamps – and it didn’t matter if you were there to talk about whether Ruby scales (or not) or whether shaving could be considered an art form – there was an implicit community formed from the explicit acceptance that almost all subjects would be welcome.
Now we, as a digital lobby group, are mostly concerned with the promotion of our sector but we see the need for wider participation in events. We see the need for seeding the ecosystem – which is why we have previously hosted the whole of the ecosystem at our events. We aren’t in competition with the folks in Belfast – at the baths, the banks or the science parks. We are in competition with other entire regions. We’re in competition with Ireland, with the North East of England, with the Paris region – our competitors are global the demand for talent is global.
We’ll have an update next week on the progress we are making in trying to staunch the problem that is the demand for talent. That’s a separate debate and one that I’m glad we finally have a government for.
Free entry for Digital Circle Members
On Wednesday morning, we have a seminar for getting your Marketing Strategy ready for 2020. There is a cost to this workshop but Digital Circle mailing list members are getting a 100% discount code. Woohoo!
The marketing for startups workshop will cover:
- Understanding your brand proposition
- Identifying your target customers and the right channels to find them on.
- Hints and tips on how to plan and budget for a startup campaign.
Copper Square Communications will host this workshop – a specialist marketing communications company focused on practical social media and content creation for businesses of all sizes.