Tony Edwards

The first ever Kernow DAT community event

Kernow DAT selfie

Last week, with a little help from my friends, I held an event in Penzance called ‘An evening for the digitally curious’ under the Kernow DAT banner. The meetup was celebrated all things digital in the world of development, technology and art in Cornwall. It saw over 60 people descend on The Workbox in Penzance from as far as Exeter for an evening enjoying the finest Cornish beers, homemade pasties and plenty of conversation.

This was the first event that I’ve ever organised myself although I have been apart of many others. Setting it up has been a part of my drive to keep on doing what I enjoy, trusting that the dots will connect, whilst I’m still in the relevant safety of University. Being a part of various events has resulted in some of my most memorable days in recent years, setting up something of my own seemed the next logical step.

The evening starts

Despite the fact that the majority of the evening was organised by myself, I did have some great mentors and advice along the way. Digital Plymouth was the initial inspiration for setting up the event, when I wished there was something similar in Cornwall. The Digital Plymouth team, who I’ve been increasingly getting involved with over the last 12 months, have given me plenty of direction with the actual logistics of setting up an event as well as giving me a template for the on the day’s itinerary, social media strategy and the ‘brand feel’. Other communities I’m apart of also gave nuggets of inspiration. The free beer at Plymouth JS. The nibbles from the Software Cornwall Business Connect. The community feel of the Cornwall Geeks meetups. These all contributed to the way the evening came together.

Belinda Waldock of Being Agile helped me in the very early days whilst the event was just an idea in my head. Belinda’s expertise in Agile project management was invaluable. Her advice kept the plans at an achievable scale, helping to craft an MVP event in line with the Pareto Principle. Without Belinda’s help the event would have likely been over promised and under delivered.

Chris Hunt playing Unseen Diplomacy

Outside of events management I got to try some things in the heat of battle for the first time. In the runup to the evening I ran a Mailchimp marketing campaign. This campaign had multiple smaller campaigns within it, with subtly different emails going to a list segregated into attendees and non attendees. Writing an interesting newsletter is not as easy as it seems. It was great to put some of the lessons learned from Josh Earl of the Entreprogrammers podcast into practice.

Ultimately the inaugural Kernow DAT was a huge success. I spent the evening chatting with happy attendees, made new friends and absorbing the 60+ smiles in the room. By the end of the night I’d had another venue offered and 4 speakers volunteer for future events. In my mind at least, this is a sure sign of a successful event. In the days since I’ve fielded lots of compliments and congratulations from friends, acquaintances and attendees. I can’t wait to read the results of the feedback questionnaire sent out to attendees, setting up the next event and making it even better than this one.

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Tony Edwards is a pasty powered developer with Plymouth Software, blogger and Web Apps Student at Plymouth University. When not developing, I can usually be found somewhere spectacular along the Cornish Coast. You can catch up with me on Twitter.