Tech Events are NOT as cool as you think (from an organizer perspective)


Hello everyone!

My name is Keit, aka @k8dev, I’m Brazilian and, besides being a programmer, I’ve been organizing technology events for 8 years.

I’m currently responsible for several technology events, one of which is the renowned FRONTIN Sampa, one of the largest and most traditional technology events here in Brazil, which has a great influence on the dev community. This event takes place annually in July, in the city of São Paulo, where we cover a wide variety of topics related to front-end development and related areas.

However, we face significant challenges, as many people don’t recognize the value of this type of event, and this isn’t just limited to the developer community. If I had to list my main frustrations as an organizer, they would be the following:

  • Difficulties in securing sponsorship.
  • Maintaining engagement before and after the event.
  • Managing partnerships and communities.

The event FRONTIN Sampa has always been an iconic event, even before I took over the organization in 2016. However, it’s important to note that without adequate financial resources, it’s impossible to provide a high-quality environment, good speakers and a competent team to hold an event of this size. Here on this side of the globe, companies even show interest in participating in events, but the offered sponsorship values they want to give as sponsorship often barely cover the costs they have with their own infrastructure on the day of the event.

As an example, the last FRONTIN Sampa generated approximately 100,000.00 BRL (20,368.26 USD) in sales, while sponsorships only amounted to around 12,000.00 BRL (2,444.04 USD), without taking barter into account. Exchanges alone are often unequal to what we deliver during the event and on social media. Even with excellent sales, if we do a quick calculation, it’s clear that the equation doesn’t add up. Organizing events like FRONTIN Sampa requires not only resources for the day of the event, but there are efforts and resources needed before and after the event that are usually not accounted for. Here at FRONTIN, the company I set up to manage events, we have a number of needs such as:

  • Social media management
  • Graphic design
  • Sales
  • Content production
  • Marketing
  • Subscriptions to services such as Mailchimp, Google Workspace, Figma, Canvas, among others
  • Event management
  • Partnership and sponsorship management
  • Public relations
  • Accounting management

And so on and so forth.

It’s almost a year of planning and execution, with monthly costs that are impossible to meet without sponsorship or personal investment. And yes! Sometimes the organizers have to take money out of their own pockets because, once again, the equation doesn’t add up. We’re talking about around 10,000.00 BRL or more to maintain the structure and team needed to produce the event, monitor social media, manage the community, communicate and other activities.

We’re talking about around 170,000.00 BRL or 34,000 USD to produce FRONTIN Sampa this year!

On the other hand, we have an audience who often complains about the ticket prices. We always try to offer extremely affordable tickets — which are usually not compatible with an event of such high standards, specially in the middle of a recession. We implemented strategies such as selling tickets in advance and offering half-price tickets to make the event as accessible as possible. However, it’s not uncommon to come across people who don’t recognize the hard work behind organizing the event and make unconstructive criticisms publicly.

When it comes to partnerships, communities and tech influencers, many of them are more interested in the coupons and free tickets they receive than in actually helping to publicize events and build an environment where people can learn, share and have fun. What’s more, managing these partnerships is often complicated, as it involves an exchange relationship. Once again, the lack of financial resources affects our ability to give proper attention to these partnerships and to follow up on the fulfillment of obligations on both sides.

This year has been particularly challenging, with few financial resources and many events to be held to meet the community’s expectations. It was so difficult that I was forced to put practically ALL MY MONEY into FRONTIN to ensure that all the events took place even though I didn’t raise enough funds. This has made me rethink several times whether it is worth continuing to produce these events.

I’m looking forward to hearing the perspective of other people who actively or voluntarily work on tech events. I’d love to talk to you and maybe find some motivation to keep going, or even companies to be joining us in the next event. I believe that our work is fundamental to creating an environment where people can connect and I truly don’t want to give up.

Thank you!

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