Insights on Hosting a Tech Event: Happy Go Techy Expo

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By Mai Hoang (Co-Founder, Happy Go Techy Expo) My sister, Tri Hoang, and I have always been the creative outgoing type with tendencies to be workaholics. It’s hard to keep anything contained when we feel excited or motivated by something. We grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and have been exposed to technology all our lives. Now we are the ultimate tech junkies with a mission to build a community around fun and fashionable tech with Happy Go Techy Expo!

Happy Go Techy Expo will bring out a crowd of 1000+ tech enthusiast in the greater Seattle area on June 25 to peruse one-of-a-kind tech accessories and fun mobile apps from the Seattle Startup Community.

The inspiration for the Happy Go Techy Expo came to be out of a combination of passion and good timing. In our case it was the passion for technology and fashion. When world famous designer Vivienne Tam got together with HP to release the "Digital Clutch" netbook we knew technology accessories were going to take a turn for a more fashionable road. The idea for our event started there but when we explained it to close friends there seemed to be much confusion. However when we started seeing finely crafted Kindle covers and iPhone cases at craft fairs we knew it was time to hit the ground running with the Happy Go Techy Expo!

It goes much deeper than just a pretty tech gadget accessories though, it's about building a community and the members within the community. Being a part of the startup community for a long time now, we can see how tech events are mostly male dominated. We’re looking to change that and make an event that is fun and engaging for everyone! We're looking showcase the work of designers, artists, and crafters who are just starting out and have amazing products but don't currently have the marketing budget to show up #1 on a Google search for something like, "laptop case."

Here are somethings you'll see:

  • Hand crafted tech accessories for all of your favorite tech gadgets
  • Photo booth decked out with nerdy props
  • Startup schwag goodie bags
  • Do-it-yourself techy craft projects
  • Social media scavenger hunt
  • Silent auction of gadget cases to raise money for technology non-profits
  • Contests, prizes and more!

This is the first time we’re putting on this event so there have been many lessons learned, we’d like to share them with the Women 2.0 community so you can avoid similar mistakes or adapt things that worked well for us when you’re thinking of putting together a tech event.

Some Startup Lessons Learned: Sell your people on your passion -- When we first started out we were so excited to start telling everyone about the event thinking the enthusiasm would be reciprocated. We had a lot of positive feedback but there was also skepticism about what our event really entailed. When you are a small operation starting up you won't have a lot of credibility to so it's important to sell people on your passion and sometimes even your dreams! Tell people about where you plan to take things. For example, the Happy Go Techy Expo is not a one time event, we have plans to do it in different cites all around the country. People are more likely to respond when things seem long term.

Passion drives you but execution defines you -- Every time we had any criticism or constructive feedback we made changes to messaging immediately to make things more clear. The first event is always the hardest and if you take everything with a positive attitude the next time around you can only do better. Don't ever be afraid of rejection or negativity. The worse thing that can happen is that someone will say no to your inquiry. Take any feedback seriously and learn from it.

Testing makes perfect -- We learned that you should always test the waters first before going full force when it's the first time trying something new. Our very first email campaign did not have a great response/open rate. We spent so much time looking for emails and contacts. For the next email campaign we tested out a few different email subjects and tested the difference between html and plain text emails and got some valuable insight.

Quality over quantity -- Build up partnerships, networks, and social media channels as much as you can with good meaningful relationships. Before reaching out to someone online make sure you think about them first, how could you help them rather then just how can they help you. It's all about give and take. When you add someone on Facebook or Twitter, introduce yourself - it'll go a long way.

Keep it simple smart -- When we first started writing content for the website and marketing collateral we were being really wordy for fear that people would not understand our event. However, icons and short lists work best.

Help us spread the word about the Happy Go Techy Expo and win a hand made iPhone case from Rogue Theory. Simple Tweet this: In #Seattle on 6/25? Check out the @happygotechy expo. An event to dress up your tech & get your geek on! http://bitly.com/iRY9OS. @women2

We’ll put anyone who participates into a raffle and will announce the winner on our blog on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 12:00pm PST.

About the guest blogger: Mai Hoang is an entrepreneur who loves the web, social media, startups, and every aspect of design. During her senior year at the University of San Francisco, she started her web design company Happy Go Techy. Mai currently works as a Web Production Specialist at DocuSign in Seattle. Previously, she worked at CBS Interactive (formerly CNET Networks), TheFunded.com, and the Founder Institute. Follow her on Twitter at @happygotechy.