How to run a spectacular start-up business event

How to run a spectacular start-up business event
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Fri 10th Oct 2014

Yesterday, I visited Old Street Underground Station which has been beautifully transformed by TFL and Appear Here into a hive of pop-up shops offering excitement and entertainment for London commuters.


One of the glass-fronted units has been taken over by events marketplace, Eventbrite - and for two weeks, they are running a series of interactive events designed to champion creative culture in the capital.

I was kindly asked to come in and speak to a group of up-and-coming start-ups that were interested in understanding how they can run events in their businesses.  Here are my 5 top tips:

1. Act small, think BIG

Don't panic if you are working on a bootstrap budget and have minimal resource to put on an event. The fact that you are working within a small team means that you can move with agility to put your plans in place effectively and efficiently.  All you need is a little imagination and an entrepreneurial attitude to put on a stellar event! Here are some basic pointers to get you started:

1. Where? Find a venue that supports your preferred style of event and reflects the values of your brand. Don't be afraid to beg, borrow and barter to secure free or discounted space!

2. When? Pick an accessible time for your target audience to attend and ensure that the location and time is communicated clearly to delegates - sending friendly reminders is vital.

3. Who? Allow sufficient time to start inviting the relevant stakeholders that you'd like to participate in the event, such as: speakers, partners and customers - and remember to reinforce the reasons why they should want to come along.

4. What? Carefully consider the content of the event and the value proposition for the people you'd like to attend.

2. Create an exceptional experience

No matter how many people sign up to your event, it's critical to make sure that each and every delegate that walks through your door feels valued.

We live in a time-poor generation, so take it as a massive compliment that people have taken the time to attend. This is your moment to showcase all the great aspects of your brand - so, dazzle them!

A common worry for event organisers is ensuring that people turn-up. Here are some simple tricks to encourage attendance:


  • Communication: Make it clear and compelling - and don't be afraid to send out gentle & friendly reminders

  • Discounts and giveaways: Consider giving an incentive for attendees that show up, such as a freebie or promotional voucher

  • Networking: Reinforcing the opportunity to connect in-person with speakers and guests

  • Refreshments: I personally always find it difficult to turn down a free glass of vino ; )

3. Think outside the box

If you're concerned that no-one will be interested in your events because of the type of product or service that you offer - think again!

There are many different types of events that you can run to inform, inspire and engage a variety of your business stakeholders, such as:

  • Networking & meet-ups

  • Customer focus groups

  • Product launches & press conferences

  • Thought leadership debates

  • Hands-on workshops & 'how-to' events

Whilst considering the 'type' of event that you'd like to run, make sure that it will deliver your desired 'output' - for example are you looking to...?

  • Increase your PR exposure

  • Drive retail footfall or online traffic

  • Create a sense of community spirit

  • Generate product sales and reviews

4. Word of Mouse

If you put on a great experience to the people that attend your events, they could become your greatest advocates - but it's critical that you give them the right tools to talk!

According to HubSpot, consumers are 71% more likely to purchase from a brand that is referred to by social media - and so make it really easy for people attending your events to share the fact that they are engaging with your brand across the web.


  • Instagram: encourage attendees to take photos & share

  • Twitter: make sure your twitter handle & event hashtag is clearly signposted

  • Facebook: get your attendees to check-in to your event (wifi details help too)

... Of course I was compelled to Instagram a picture of my free #BriteSpaceLDN beer bottle!

5. How was that?

Once your event is finished, think about how the event delivered a beneficial value for both attendees and your business. Ways that you can measure success:

  • Reach on social media: Use tools such as Tweetreach to track the exposure of your event hashtag via social

  • Sales: Give attendees a unique URL or promo-code to track any orders made post-event

  • PR mentions: Did your event get any exposure in the media? If so, add it to your press cuttings portfolio - it all adds value to the business & will keep sponsors happy

  • Testimonials: Ensure you collate feedback from guests and use positive quotes as a tool to encourage attendance at future events

  • Content: Elongate the value of your hard work by profiling post-event content across the web to improve your SEO

Got a great new idea for an event?

Our friends at Eventbrite are running a competition called 'The Spark' giving start-ups and event entrepreneurs the chance to win an amazing package of free resources worth over £5000 and free mentorship so that the winner of The Spark is able to successfully launch and run their event in record time! Find out more.

Lorna Bladen

Lorna Bladen (@lornabladen) is Head of Events at Enterprise Nation.

Check out our future & past events - we hope to meet you soon!

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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