[00:00:00] Ecommerce Gold show featuring Andrew Yuan, a networked NY entrepreneur and Google exec. Sponsored by Sendane and Rewind.
[00:05:30] Grateful for mentors, networking creates value.
[00:10:39] Event host helps people build new communities.
[00:13:02] "Tech Gatsby: Enjoy small events, logistics challenge."
[00:18:48] Events as a creative outlet for kindness.
[00:21:58] Networking events like the Junto Club are structured to create valuable connections and a sense of community. Attendees are encouraged to introduce themselves and engage in meaningful conversations. The club also organizes larger parties where people can socialize and have fun.
[00:26:51] Product iterations, volunteers, yellow lanyards, networking event.
[00:29:29] Understanding and helping people, empowering connections.
[00:35:06] High-level structure for planning successful events.
[00:37:23] Four essential event planning steps: intention, people, venue, partnerships/sponsorships.
[00:41:42] Big banks, recruiting agencies, B2B SaaS companies, hotels, sponsors, all have different wants and needs.
[00:44:48] Venue stress, event extorted, awkward San Francisco vibe.
[00:48:22] Potential $300K revenue from sponsorships; Lead gen program attracts talented tech people; Events business can drive revenue through content and socials; Building a platform layer with senior investors; Deal flow program to help founders raise money; Talent network and partnership network; Exploring different business models connected through a network platform; Considering starting a retreat and a podcast.
On this episode of EcomGold, join hosts Finn and Andrew as they dive into the world of event
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Hello and welcome to e-commerce gold, the show brought to you by Sendane and Rewind. Today's guest is one of the most networked people in New York, if not the United States, is Andrew Yuang of Andrews Mixes. Andrew throws these tech parties 10,000 people have attended to date and he connects startups, investors, people in the space through these incredible events and parties, often held exclusive venues throughout the US of A. Whilst holding down a job as head of product at Google, he's ex meta. He does a lot, this guy, but he still finds time to talk to us, to tell us about how to create the perfect event. This episode is brought to you by Sendane, the people you should be using. If you're using Klaviyo or really any other email or SMS or reviews yes, that's right. Reviews solution go and check them out. They are taking the e-commerce space by storm. You heard it here first, you should be on Sendane. You'll thank me later. Go and book a demo. And also with Rewind. The protection suite cannot be understated. You need to protect your store. You may not think it now, but a small amount per month will do exactly that for you an undo button, a staging site, all of the things, the precautions you should be taking as a responsible e-commerce business owner, available to you. If you do not have it installed, you must go and do it now. Take my word for it, you will need it. That's enough of the sponsors today. I love this episode, and for more reasons than one. Let me know your thoughts over to you, andrew. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today on the e-com gold podcast. How you?Speaker 2:
doing today, sir. Doing good, doing good.Speaker 1:
I'm excited for this, yeah and it's great to have you on the show. I've been a follower of your work for a little while, a subscriber to the newsletter, the sub-stack, and this is where I found this actually your, your two missions to empower, to build meaningful relationships, to inspire the world to be wiser, happier and less lonely. I hope I did those justice, but can you just give us an overview of what those mean to you and why they are mission statements?Speaker 2:
yeah, so there is. There's really two things I love doing and the first is, you know, the community building aspect and the sort of the gathering people and bringing people together. And I, you know just a bit of a backstory. I moved to New York City three years ago, you know, knowing you know just one or two people, and it was the middle of COVID and I wanted to build my, my community, my network and sort of, you know, really just make friends, and so I started hosting and over the last three years I've hosted, you know, hundred events, 15,000 people, and you know I did that to really solve my own problem and now I continue to do that to help other people gather and just sort of bring these business leaders together. Through hosting, I've met so many incredible people. I've met all these tech leaders, ranging from, you know, co-founders of you know billion-dollar companies to athletes. You know I met this guy who used to bike with Lance Armstrong and you know, just through hosting, I've met so many incredible people that have taught me so many things about life and business, and so I felt like I had to share that with the world, and I do that through my writing, through my newsletter, you know through my Twitter and that's really how the fly we works. You know, meet a lot of really brilliant people and learn what they do and how they do it and then share that with the world in a format that is digestible yeah, man sounds great.Speaker 1:
And your roller decks. Who use the roller decks anymore? That's such an outdated term. Your contacts must be bursting at the seams, but you've got some serious names in there. Do you feel like you've got in a half of half of the the world's tech scene sort of in your contact book? Is it at that level now? Do you feel very much connected to the who's who in the tech scene?Speaker 2:
not not the world, but I, you know, I think, in New York City tech. I feel like most people have heard of me or at least have seen my, my, my brand on Twitter or LinkedIn. You know, I don't know what the numbers look like, but my, you know, my, my roller decks is probably, you know, like 20, 25,000 people, and most of that is in New York City. So it's yeah, it's a pretty big, pretty big list of names it's lucky you don't use claveo.Speaker 1:
That would cost you a lot of money if you wanted to keep in touch with that many people. Yeah, well, one thing I wanted to ask you is I've got an okay network, you know, not nothing too crazy but how do you start to leverage that network outside of what you're currently doing? So you have these incredible events and I'm gonna ask you about those in a minute. But you've got also this massive network now and I know you do things like deal flow and connect investors and connect startups, but do you ever cross the line on a one-to-one relationship with people that you've built these connections with? Do you ever ask for favors? Do you ever do things? Do you ever take it any further than just the events or just the professional, somewhat professional offerings that you have? And the way that question comes from is if sometimes I think to myself oh, that person I met and and I've got their contact details, but I've only had a, you know, a conversation with them. We know what each other are about, but be great if I could ask them that question, but sometimes it feels difficult to do that. Do you ever you know cross that border?Speaker 2:
yeah, it's a good question. So I'm, you know, I'm very grateful that throughout my career I've always had mentors that have helped me get to where I am, from my first job I used to work at Bell or, even before that, my internships, and then I worked at my first company, bell, and and pivoting from that to, you know, to moving to a different country, to the United States, and then working at Facebook, which was that was a tough move for me, and then go into Google. So I had someone, I always had someone along, you know, alongside me, mentoring me and helping me out. And those people are different at those different stages and I'm incredibly grateful for that. And I think, you know, the best time to build a network is when you you don't really need anything, and so when you reach out to someone, it's your intent isn't to, it doesn't to sort of to take from them or to extract value, it's more so to, it's more so out of your curiosity or, even even better, it's to give. And I think in most people, most people only will start networking when they need something. You know, my LinkedIn invites has this year. You know the volume I've gone this year just because of the layoffs is exponentially higher than than that to you know, like 12 months ago, when, when the job market was booming. And I think, if everyone sort of you know, people love jobs and who are comfortable and content in their jobs don't typically network, but if they did, they would sort of create that buffer or that career cushion for them, for them in the future. And how you do that is you just reach out to people and obviously I'm over simplifying it, but you reach out to people, you build these new relationships and you try to understand what their goals are and you help them get there and that's really all it is. And you do that at scale and actually, after you meet a lot more people, your ability to provide value will exponentially increase. Because most people are seeking, you know, one of a few things. One is like wisdom. They're looking for advice on how they can do some x, y and z to is like you know, a resource. Maybe they actually just need something, like they need money or they need you know what. They're looking to hire someone. But then the last thing is they're they're normally looking for an introduction or someone you can connect them with, so you could literally go out there today and just talk to 100 people and like then figure out what their, what their goal is, what their problems are and help them solve those problems by connecting them to the other 99 people you've spoken with. It's literally creating value out of thin air and then you can write about that, then you can teach other people how to do it. You could literally build a business just off talking to people. So I think that's what I've learned in the last just two years of meeting hundreds, if not thousands, of people to one to help them but also to to sort of learn and you know how I can network better and how I could build my network better why?Speaker 1:
why is it that in person connections, in person interactions, have a multiplier effect in value versus an online, a digital interaction in my experience anyway, do you experience that too? You meet someone in real life is just infinitely more valuable. Why do you think that is?Speaker 2:
yeah, yeah, I'm so I'm all about the IRL because you know I do events and I've done, I've done so many and obviously I'm all about the in-person human interaction there's. You know, you can't, you can't really explain it, but you can feel it and nobody's ever been able to sort of break down why in person is so much better and there's probably concepts that go back 10,000 years of why humans should be together and not over a screen. You know most technologies are really isolating. Like you know, social media for the most part is very isolating and alienating and, you know, actually takes you further from your goal of connecting with other humans. So I think being in person there's just an energy to it. There are things you can do together that will you know, to put it in a more scientific way, like raise certain chemical biochemicals in your body that make you happier and that help you feel a connection with someone else. Like touch is one of them giving someone a hug, sharing a meal with someone. You know these are just things you can't do online and nobody solved that. Like zoom you know there's a zoom fatigue and I remember when the idea of zoom fatigue was a huge thing a year ago and they did studies and they've, you know, they, they figured out why is? Because, like you know one, like I'm not supposed to be this close to you. You know, as a human talking to another human, and so there's intensity that activates the fight of flight mode in your head. So there's all these little things that no one is really solved for. But any human is, you know in person, is is the way humans are supposed to interact. And how was you know how we're supposed to live and build community with each other?Speaker 1:
yeah, and and do you think that stems or part of your success in this, part of why it's you that has been so successful in this, stems from that loneliness? From when you came to New York and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but had a hunger to have human connection, did this just become a vehicle for you to be able to do that personally? And then you saw the opportunity. Can you just walk us through, I mean in your own words, yeah, loneliness and, and what that felt like for you, and then you sort of solve your own problem with this. At least that's how I have portrayed it from the outside, looking in. Is that fair patrol?Speaker 2:
Yeah, yeah, and I think, like most, you know, I'm not a founder, but I've sort of built something and most founders or builders create something, or most founders or builders who have built something incredible or just solving their own problem and that's how they've been able to do it for so long. You know I've, in three years I've mentioned I've done over 100 events. I just lost count after 100. And you know I'm doing five in July and people are like you must be, you're like you're a psychopath to host five events in July. People spend months planning one event and I'm like I love it and I love seeing the impact that it has on other people, because I went through that same journey of you know, I've lived in five different countries growing up and I'm 27, 27 years, and every time you move you know three of those countries were in Asia Every time you move, you uproot your life and you have to build a new community, build a new professional network and just make new friends and that stuff is hard and so, grown up, you know, I just have to do that again and again from scratch and I got really good at making friends and so when I moved here, that was the next challenge. You know that was that was probably the toughest challenge, which was moving here in the peak of COVID, knowing very few people with my parents in Asia, with all the restaurants, bars, clubs shut down, and I'm like, how do I meet people? And I see a lot of other people and I wasn't the only one going through that and I saw a lot of other people going through that, having the same problem. So I try to figure out the best way I could solve it for myself and once I did, you know, hopefully that scales to other people. And today I don't go to all the events I host. They're not for me, they're not. You know, I'm not the center, I'm not supposed to be the center of attention. They're for other people. You know this is infrastructure for other people to meet each other.Speaker 1:
So you don't do the whole Gatsby thing. I was wondering whether you sort of have these amazing events and having a big entrance down the stairs with a cocktail in hand, or whether you sort of stick to the shadows and monitor from afar. Do you have fun at the events? Do you join in? Are you sort of letting loose and talking to people and having a drink, or are you like heads on, analyzing, thinking what could be better, what could I do different next time? Can I connect that person with this person? Like what's your mentality at these events?Speaker 2:
It's funny. You mentioned the Gatsby thing. My friend Liora, she always calls me like the Gatsby of tech and you know, gatsby actually doesn't make a grand entrance. Nobody knows who he is and so I think that term has been thrown around because I only wear black and I'm sort of in the shadows and I don't want people sort of like swarming me and that's not the point of the event. And also it got to a point where people were like pitching me their startups and just pitching me and selling me things and I'm like this is this became a lot less fun. So I don't like make, I don't like put a spotlight on myself at all, but I do have fun. The really big ones you know, over a thousand people those are a little bit tougher to have fun because I'm so logistics focused and sponsored. They're sponsors there so I have to make sure their needs are met in the venue. There are a lot of stakeholders have to make sure they're all just happy. But at the really small ones I do this event series called a Hunto club. I do it twice a month and I love those. It's a hundred people. It's very curated. There's a massive wait list of people trying to get in. It's a very popular event and I do. I attend these events twice a month and I love them and I talked to at least 20 people. I have a blast and I stay from 5pm to like 10pm. It's a five hours just straight up talking to people. So I do have fun at most of them. Just when it gets a little bit more, when it gets to a certain size, it becomes harder to be so present, which is something I've been working on.Speaker 1:
Sendlane are taking an incredibly personalized approach to win the email market. They're coming up with innovative features. They're plugging the gaps we all wish were plugged by Clavio. They have an incredibly awesome email, SMS and reviews solution and it's no wonder that they're the talk of the Ecommerce town and I would highly, highly encourage you to get on their radar. Go check them out. If you haven't already grabbed a demo, get booked in. It's probably the solution for you. You said you mentioned in that about sponsors and happiness, but with an event there's so many unknowns. At least you can do a lot in terms of planning the event and we'll get into that. But then the actual event. It's fundamentally based on human interaction and nature, human behavior, as to how the sentiment of that event evolves. Do you find that if people turn up in a certain mindset, maybe they're looking for fun and they let loose, or maybe there's one or two people that are really good at networking or just like the floor up Does that have a big impact on how the overall event turns out? Or have you dialed it in to make an event pretty consistent in terms of what the sponsors get out, what people get out of it? Is there a method that you've found. That will give you a pretty consistent result.Speaker 2:
It's very consistent. I have a playbook that I run for the large events, which is there are communications that go out to thousands of people before the event, after the event, in terms of the expectations. I do that through email and socials and things like that. I'm pretty active on Twitter. I'm always tweeting about my expectations of not just people that go to my events, but people around me in general. Something I say pretty often is I talk about kindness and how important it is to be kind and be the best, most generous version of yourself. At these events you show up and it's not just a regular networking event where you show up for five minutes and you try to make one connection and you leave. It's like you show up as the best version of yourself. The purpose of you being there is to give value to someone else. That value doesn't have to be business value, but I expect you to be present in these conversations and to be kind and to speak to someone else like a human and not in the form of a business transaction or a sales pitch. I do that a lot At the smaller events Hunto Club I mentioned there's 100 people that attend. I actually send out. I split the group into 10 different groups, the large group into 10 smaller groups, and I read through every single profile. I try to figure out who should I introduce, who should I put in the same group to introduce to each other. I end up with 10 different email threads where I'm like I put you together for a reason I'd love for you to meet. A lot of these smaller groups have become friends. I actually went to a dinner on Saturday. It was the Hunto Club group, yellow. They had dinner just after the event with my friend Rob cooking the meal. A lot of these micro communities will emerge from the larger event and they'll coordinate through a WhatsApp group and they'll become friends. It's a very consistent experience. I have very consistent expectations of the people that come.Speaker 1:
I saw that picture. It looked like a very intimate but well-prepared table of food. I can imagine it. It looked like a nice evening. It's very picturesque. You might see in a film you mentioned climate. I've seen that as a golden thread throughout a lot of your communication. It seems something that you do emphasise. I do understand generosity. In the framework of what you're building, you want people to give more than they take, and that's what will ultimately end up in a very valuable community. The kindness is something that I personally advocate for as well. It's not necessarily something that fits the mold of a B2B or professional event. Why do you push that? Where does that come from for you?Speaker 2:
My product is and let's say, the events are my product. It's an extension of my personality, I like to think. I think most people would say I'm kind. Most people would say I'm very helpful. I'm the sort of person that you could call at midnight and I'll be there for you. This, for me, isn't a business, at least not yet. I have a full-time job. The events for me are my creative outlet to do what energises me outside my core job. I can design it in any way I want and I can answer to no one which is really cool. I want to design something that impacts the world in a certain way. That way is I want people to feel the kindness. I want kindness to radiate throughout the event. I've got a ton of work to do. It's still, at the end of the day, a networking event. I've heard many, many times from folks who have been to my event over 10 times. They're like your events are different. I've been trying to break that down and I have a few theories. But it's different because most people who throw events are most people who do networking events. The intention is to drive leads, promote their brand, drive brand equity. They don't really care about the experience of the attendee. They have these numbers they're trying to hit. I don't have any goals I'm trying to hit. I'm trying to make everyone happy, that's it. I think that's what's made these events effective. That's why there are people that have been to. There's probably people that have been to over 30 of my events. My friends come to a lot of them and for the longest time. I'm like why are you coming to networking events? The answer is always because it doesn't feel like a networking event. It's very energizing to be here. If you go to a conference, you feel like it's training. You go on a behalf of your company and it's not a good experience. I want to turn these networking events into something that is more like entertainment, like a party, like something that you want to go to and you're not being forced to. That's sort of my thought process there.Speaker 1:
Amazing. Can you give us a fly on the wall breakdown of what your events feel like then? I've only ever been to really really like exactly as you just described fabricated some cheap wine, a couple of cucumber sandwiches because we're in the UK and you know some awkward shuffling around and handshakes and you're looking at your watch every 10 minutes until you can get out there to go and do something else. Honestly, that's my experience of almost every event I've been to here in the UK. What makes your events different? You said it's a bit more like a party. Is it like literally a party? Booze people, let go, you know and have a great time, but also make connections. Is that sort of the running theme? Or how do you differentiate the vibe of your events to something like a company-sponsored event, for example?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So I'll give you two examples A small example of, like, the Hunto Club and then a larger one just to give you a sense of the scale. So the smaller ones. First of all, there's a wait list that runs like months long, and so there are people that have been on the wait list for six months and then they get accepted and they're like, wow, now that have been accepted, I have to be the best version of myself. Like you know, I've been waiting for this. And so they RSVP and you know, the week of the event comes, and a day before the event starts, I'll send out an email with an email thread with you and nine other people and once, if you look at that email thread, the email thread will say like hey, can you introduce yourself? Brag about yourself, what's one thing you need help with and one thing you can help others with? And you'll read through and everyone answers the email thread. The completion rate is 90% and you'll quickly see how relevant these people are to your category, to what you're looking to do, or if you're not looking for a business transaction or sort of a business need. They're just incredible people that you vibe with. And then I'll be like you're in team green. Then you show up to the event the next day and there is an attendant that greets you and smiles and sort of shakes your hand and says hello, gives you a hug maybe, and she's like you're team green. And then you're like damn, I don't know anyone. But you look around and there's nine other people with green stickers and you already kind of know them because you've read their introductions and so you're greeted into that group. So immediately upon arriving you have nine other friends or nine people that you know you'll vibe with. And that's the world tonight. And this is feedback I've heard from other people. Every you know most networking events, people like go around trying to seek the person that is valuable and they go around trying to seek a valuable conversation or connection. This event at the Hunto Club, every single connection is valuable and you might not believe me, but I've heard this from every single person, like every I've literally quoted this one of my friends, avanti that every single person in the room was valuable and he was like that was incredible. I've never been in a room like that before and I think very few people have. You don't get that a sew house, zero bond. And they're not only incredibly brilliant and interesting from your perspective, they're also very kind people. And so after the event, you know the event ends and, honestly, like the email thread keeps going and then they turn into WhatsApp group and that then just becomes a micro community. So that's the Hunto Club. I'll give you a sense of the bigger ones. I did a party at and this is an actual party a party at Austin. In Austin, for South by Southwest is about 2000 people and so there's a line around the block, which sucks, but every cool party has a line because there's demand. But while you're in line, I have volunteers going up and down the line talking to you and encouraging you to talk to that person in front of you and behind you. So you like you're not just waiting in line on your phone, you're already, like the party has already started in the line and over time there's an expectation that's been created where you don't even need the volunteers anymore. People are just chatting, and no other club in the world or any party or people like chatting to each other in line. That's not a very you know, having good conversation. That's not it. That's not a common thing. And you get in there. It's massive garden. You know tens of thousands of square feet. You see fire dancers. In one end it's open bar. It's open bar. Nobody ever gets drunk, but it's open bar. There's Alex Lieberman, the co-founder of Morning Brew. His yard game is there, the plunger, and there are volunteers all over. So if you came by yourself and you didn't meet anyone in line, you can speak to volunteers and just have a friend there, and then there's an indoor room where my buddy, avante, is DJing. So if you actually want to like turn up and dance, there's an actual indoor dance floor, there's a private room and so you know that's the actual party and throughout the night everyone is like talking and vibing and the energy is that of like, more of like a social club where anyone around you you can start a conversation with and it won't be weird. It's not like a club where you talk to someone. They're like why are you talking to me? So that was one of my favorite parties in Austin. And yeah, just giving you a taste of one of the bigger ones and one of the smaller ones.Speaker 1:
Keep hold of that plunger set If you've still got it. They are no longer operational, as far as I'm aware, so that could be where something, especially if you signed it. That's super interesting. So where do you come up with these? There were so many innovations there that I hadn't heard before. Where do you get those ideas? Do they just hit you? Do you research them, or does this? Do you approach just a bit like the Sims? Did you ever play the Sims game? Yeah, basic simulation. But how do you? How do you think about these things? Like there was when you were just talking there. There was things I've never heard of before and you've implemented them. So do you treat it like a product? And you're sort of doing product iterations try this, try that, like how? do you come up with that.Speaker 2:
Yeah, product iterations. I've done over a hundred right. So every, every, every single event, I add something incremental and I test them, always testing stuff. In the early days I didn't have volunteers, but then I I did a party for Sahel Bloom and Sam Parr together with Nick Gray, and Nick Gray taught me the idea of the volunteers, but it was, and it was incredible. It was just a little bit too like. It's too much work. So I like I simplified it a little bit and now I have someone else running that program and just to give you a sense, at a 1000 person event there's going to be 100 volunteers, 100, 10% of the people will be wearing a yellow lanyard and they're friendly, you know, they have a smile on their face and you can talk to them anytime you want. And then other smaller innovations you know I had a banana. I had a guy dress up in a banana costume come to two of my events and he just dances and it takes pictures with people. That's just for fun, you know, just throwing, just. You know, just just to make it a little bit more humorous, because it's it's. You know it's a networking event, but I want to make it more lighthearted and everything else is just reading, you know, I read the Art of Gathering, I read Nick Gray's Two-Hour Cocktail Party, I read Jason Ganyard's Mastermind Dinners, and I'm just taking these elements from different situations and implementing them in mind and it's yeah something. Honestly, anyone can copy. Not everyone does, and I don't know why, and it's probably because they don't care, because these companies are just doing events to promote their brand. So I think that's where it stands out.Speaker 1:
I wanted to ask you you've got some incredible blue chip names on your CV, one of which you worked for now, as far as I'm aware, and I wanted to know why this feels like play for you where, in my category, e-commerce, there are events going on all the time and you see the tweets and it's definitely work for them. That's a navel that I think you're quite fond of as well, but paraphrasing in some way, and they do everything they can to avoid it. There's a podcast in my space called Ecommerce Fuel and they do a yearly event and, as far as I can tell, it goes really, really well for them and they put a lot of effort into it, but then listening to the founder on the show the week following, sort of on the edge of a breakdown, that's one event a year. So you know, I'm just kind of interested as to why this is your zone of genius and that's a framework I know you like. So, if you wouldn't mind, tupata, why is it you that does this and break down the sort of zone of genius framework for us?Speaker 2:
It's a good question. I haven't really thought about it. So I think one of the things I love is understanding people and how to help people, and I know that's really broad, but just to give you a sense of like how I experienced that, I have this list of 20,000 plus people and that's growing every week when people apply to my events and sign up for my newsletter, and it's really energizing seeing what they've done with their lives and their career and what's something they're struggling with, and I think it's very humanizing, like I have these CEOs that are like I'm looking for this and I'm like I can actually help you with this, which is in another world, or like me, three years ago, where I was, I think I was a fairly different person. I wouldn't even know how to begin, and so I think it's it's very empowering to know that you can help people. Once you have that view that 30,000 square foot, 30,000 feet view of what everyone is looking for and, like you mentioned, it's like playing Sims. You know it's like playing Sims when it comes to the events. I think one of the most fundamental human struggles is loneliness and finding your people, and like finding love and creating business value through connection and people, and that's something everyone craves. And in the last three years that problem just got a lot worse. You know all these and you see it in the New York Times. People are struggling. One in four or one in five male adults don't feel like they have a close friend, and that's one of the most fundamental things you as a human need and I don't think I always had that growing up, right. I felt I was only child moving around, sometimes I wasn't invited to the parties and that definitely put a chip on my shoulder. So it's knowing that I can once solve that problem for myself, which I think I have but starting to help other people solve that problem and introducing I've tweeted this before a bit making an introduction is one of the most impactful things you can do for someone else and I've firsthand felt that if you're looking for job and introduction to the hiring manager, you know it can change your entire life, not just like your career, just change the entire life. So it seems like the most straightforward way to have a ton of impact for another human being.Speaker 1:
And you enjoy, it right, you still?Speaker 2:
enjoy it. I love it, I love it, I love it. That's why I'm still going strong. I got five events this month. I'm not trained by the idea of it at all.Speaker 1:
Well, I mean, event planning is a professional career choice for some. I don't know if there's any university training for it, but I know for sure there are complementary studies that you could be doing project management for one, and people spend a long time planning their careers to be an event planner. Did you have any formal training coming into this?Speaker 2:
None, None. The first big party I ever did was moving here three years ago, two years ago. Big party my background is in, let's say, strategy and operations Broadly, I'll put it that way, which is it's really vague, for it actually it's sort of what consultants do, which is understanding problems at a really high level and creating solutions or brainstorming solutions and carrying them out to delivery. And what I was always really good at was that delivery thing, implementation and operations. And my Facebook job. I did really well. I got really good ratings and the feedback I always got was I was really operationally rigorous and very organized and just very good at execution. And then I came to Google and I think I'm doing well. I'm six months in, so I don't have a rating, but that's the feedback I get. I'm just good at operations.Speaker 1:
And so I take that thinking to my events. What do you mean of rating?Speaker 2:
Who writes yeah. So we get performance ratings and at Metta it was you get like a, you get like a. Here's the ranking which determines how much money you get paid, like a portion of your salary. So it starts with like meets some expectations, meets most expectations these are shitty ratings and then meets all expectations, which is the average, and then there's exceeds expectations, and then there's greatly exceeds expectations, and I was always like the greatly exceeds, which is one of the proudest things. You know, I'm very proud of having that at Metta, similar to Google, like they'll give you a rating that determines your bonus. It goes from anywhere from like 0% If you really suck 0%, which would also put you in the path to getting fired eventually to 200, or maybe 400% Like your bonus could be 400%, and then it's done on a bell curve. So you know, probably 3% of people get the highest rating and 3% at the lowest, and majority are meets yeah. So I was good at operations and you know this thing behind me that's that's like an event board and I've just figured out all the parts I need to automate and I, you know, figured out what are the yeah, what are the parts of the events planning process I need to automate. And how do I? How do I do that? And over time I've done that so I can now do. I could probably do 20 events a month in my sleep like pretty easily.Speaker 1:
That's insane and one of the reasons that I really wanted to have you on the show, because events two parts. So there's some, some companies, and this is primarily focused at E-commerce founders and operators, and so to help them and to help the listener, a lot of those companies are remote, in part or in full, and once, twice a year, a quarter, will bring their teams together in a single location. Many of these people have never met before. The company could be, you know, hundreds of employees deep, and these CEOs aren't events people. Maybe they bring someone in who's a consultant, who does networking events, but I wondered if we could get to a point where we're able to give them some kind of a Andrew playbook high level. Here's how you put together a somewhat decent once a year, once a quarter, event for you and your team. Here are the things that you need, and that's one example. And then the other example is for their customers pop ups, cross different cities or in real life activations around that campaign where they bring people together in a train station or whatever else. There's a lot more interaction going on with customers and a lot more experiences being created with employees, and what I'd love to get from you is the event King, not self-proclaimed. It's just a kind of really high level structure or overview of like okay, here's how I approach planning an event, here's how I approach organizing event, getting a venue, securing. You know X, y and Z for that. Do you feel like you could run us through some kind of high level structure that could help them? Rewind really is table states for any e-commerce store. It backs your store up consistently and it offers you an undo button just in case something was to go wrong on your store which, let's be honest, can happen. And it also provides you a staging environment so that you can have a carbon copy of your live environment to do all your testing on your QA, try new ideas and not have to worry about breaking something on the live environment. Check code conflicts, app conflicts, everything in between is a must. Have going to store it.Speaker 2:
Yeah, I'll give you something really high level. It's probably three or four steps, depends if I remember the last step. The first one is the intention. So why do you want to put together an event? And what's the context of the event? Is it like a panel, is it a cocktail reception? Is it a conference? And so you got to figure out the context part and ultimately, the why. Why do you want to bring these people together? The second one is people I talked about. Why do you want to bring them together? The people is who do you want to invite and how do you reach them? And most people have the first part. They're like I want to invite these people, but I don't have the means of distribution, of reaching them. And then that's when, maybe, if we really want to get into detail, that's when you partner with an influencer or someone with distribution where you can activate or you can bring those people in, you can reach those people. The third one is the venue Like where are you going to host it? I think that's pretty straightforward. That, to me, was one of the things I needed automate. I'm like I can't be spending time emailing and chasing after club owners and rooftops. So I went on like a few months sprint where I just reached out to all the C suites of all the hotels and all the bars and clubs and I'm like, hey, here's what I do. I bring together these tech leaders. Can we chat? I want to share through my value proposition. So most people don't even spend time doing that and you know, if you're just doing one event a year it doesn't make sense. But you have to figure out what works for you. Maybe you go through an agent or platform or you just go to that local bar every every week and you just tip them well and try to meet the GM and get to know them really well and then one day you have that relationship. So that, to me, was the hardest part. And then the last part is, let's call it like partnerships and sponsorships. So it's like how are you going to activate the event? You could actually do an event for 1000 people without a single dollar I've done it before but for most people you have to pay. So like, where are you going to get that money from? Is it sponsors, is it attendees? What's the business model of the event? How are you going to raise it? And those four things I mean those four things will branch off into different things depending on, like, what your needs are. It becomes like a chart like that. But those four things are all you need. Once you've thought about those four things, everything else is just icing on the cake. You know, everything else is like communications, it's decorations, it's fun stuff, social media, like all that kind of stuff. But just have those four things nailed down and you're good. Do you still do everything?Speaker 1:
yourself? Have you built a small support network or team around some of these things?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I have hundreds of volunteers that I've used, like my friend Bob and Hope. Like they volunteer at the larger events and they sort of run the volunteer program and so they will lead a group of like 100 volunteers. But for the, for the planning and like the negotiations, all that stuff is really easy for me. The sponsorships, like it's just so much easier if I do it myself and it's at this point, it's so quick. I also have a lot of rules where it's like I'm never chasing sponsors. If you ask any of my sponsors, I'm never like hey, like are you interested? Like if you're not interested, you're not interested. I'm just I'm not going to follow up with you. If your company doesn't fit the vibe of my event, then it's not going to be a fit and I actually on. I think for most people they try to sell the sponsors and like here's why you should, you should, give us five grand for this event. I'm like I don't need, I go, I go into the call and I'm like I don't actually need your money. Just I just want to make sure it's a fit. Sound like, what are your goals? Tell me what you want, what outcomes you want from this event, and to any sponsor. Listening it sounds very familiar. I'm like, what are your outcomes? And then I'm like maybe this could work. Here's how much it would cost. I just want to cover the base costs and then we go from there. So I think a lot of people think my events are like exclusive. I also sort of create that energy with sponsors where it's like it's exclusive to sponsor an event and that creates more demand. So that's, that's worked well for me. I just went on a total tangent. I know you asked me if I do everything myself. Yeah, most stuff I still do myself. The operational stuff I've delegated.Speaker 1:
What sort of things do you sponsors? I'm just interested. We have sponsors of this show and I'm just interested what kind of things do they want from an event?Speaker 2:
I'll give you some examples. I won't name names. A big bank, one of the largest banks in the world. They just want, honestly, it's, a bit of internal politics. They want to meet founders and they want to use their traction, these relationships with founders, to build a larger internal program. And then there's there's a recruiting agency I want to work with, who you know they mentioned. Oh, like, recruiting agencies aren't seen as like, cool or hip, so they want to brand themselves with someone like me who's like, apparently I'm cooler or my events are cool, so I'm like, okay, cool, so for them it's a brand play. And then there's immediate conversion needs, where I have B2B SaaS companies where, like, we just want, we want clients, we want leads and I, you know, I gave them a ton of leads and hotels. You know hotels want high income tech people in their hotels. So, yeah, everyone wants something different. It's very interesting. I've had sponsors actually reach out saying, hey, can we just give you the money and we don't actually want anything, we just want to come to the event, like, we want to get invited to the event and every other event. Can we set something up? Can we give you two grand a month just to come to your event, I'm like no, that's kind of weird, doesn't make sense. It's just too weird for me. So everyone wants something different.Speaker 1:
Yeah, that's awesome. Do you prefer the big events or the small events? Now you've got both in your mind, which are more fun for you.Speaker 2:
For me, the small ones for sure, but the big ones are just fun to look at and observe from afar. It's just cool energy. It's like a music festival, where people rarely gather groups of thousands, so it's sort of like an epic scene to watch.Speaker 1:
Yeah, yeah, very true, right. I just want to ask you a couple of final questions. Can you name drop who's some of the kind of standout people that have been to the event? It doesn't have to be people that everyone know, but for you, did you have one of those moments where you're like, oh, that's cool, that person's here.Speaker 2:
Yeah, I had the co-founder of Dolingo at one of my events. I thought that was cool. I had my friend or now she's my friend Adliore Cole, who is a global IMG model turned AI founder. She is cool. Cliff Lerner he's a good friend now. He built the first ever dating app, got it to 100 million users, invented the swipe. This guy who biked with Lance Armstrong was his teammate and became an executive like a chief C-suite executive at Goldman Sachs, yahoo, fair Reef, google, yeah. So yeah, people like that and a bunch of CEOs are smaller companies, but those are probably the some of the ones I'm comfortable mentioning on a pod.Speaker 1:
I've seen some other names as well. There's a lot of value in those rooms, that's for sure. What about, I mean, can you just and we won't leave it on this but what has been some of the most stressful moments? Has there ever been a point where you thought, oh man, this might implode today, any kind of major meltdowns that you've solved?Speaker 2:
When the venue doesn't deliver. When I show up in the venue is like a piece of crap, like if they don't clean, they haven't set up, their staff aren't ready. That really stresses me out. I had this venue that I had a disagreement with or miscommunication with, where I brought my own liquor and my own alcohol and my own drinks and food and last minute, like an hour before the event, they were like this is not okay, this isn't work for us, and they're like you have to pay us if you want to keep running the event. So basically, he started me and I'm like how much? And it was a few thousand dollars. So I wasn't able to enjoy that event just because I just lost a few thousand dollars right before the event started. And then, yeah, that sucked because I was just stressed for the rest of the night and people could see it on my face and it was just I don't know. I just didn't feel good. Other than that, every other event has been great. Like I haven't really had any horror stories, knock on wood. I did a few events in San Francisco that were a little bit more awkward. I thought the vibe there was a little bit strange. People were like slightly more awkward and transactional, and it was just mostly founders who were looking to meet investors. That was it. Other than that, everything in New York has been great. Oh, I did do a rooftop event in New York City when the smog came in.Speaker 1:
It wasn't there. It's orange right. Was that the orange thing?Speaker 2:
Yeah it was brutal and it was an outdoor rooftop event and like close to a thousand people showed up and I was looking at pictures and I was like this is horrible. But I did send an email out beforehand. I'm like you can go indoors there's an indoor bar if you want but everyone just is outside and tweeting about it and posting about it.Speaker 1:
Yeah, that was kind of wild. What's the future? You're going to monetize this. You've obviously got. I have no idea how you're able to hold down and still think that you can achieve some of the upper echelons of the ratings framework at a company like Google whilst also running a huge amount of events a year just boggles the mind. Do you sleep Like? I know New York doesn't sleep, but do you sleep?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I sleep seven, eight hours a night. I get plenty of sleep, but I'm always working, every hour of the day. I'm working. If I'm not working and I love it if I'm not working, I'm like having lunch or dinner with people I work with. You know what I mean. So I'm always in grind mode and I, you know, I moved to New York City for a reason. I moved here three years for a reason and I got a visa for a reason. It wasn't to come here and relax and enjoy the scenery, it was to build something and to really push myself to my limits, and I'm very energized by that. So, yeah, I'm very strict with my time. I recently quit drinking four months ago. I'm wearing my friend's hat, elizabeth, who runs absence of proof. She's one of my good friends, she's one of the people that influenced me to stop drinking and I have so much time now because I don't drink. I don't really do any of that stuff. Yeah, I don't know. Just good time management, time boxing, just doing it. Also, just no procrastinating, just doing it.Speaker 1:
And you're staying pretty good shape as well. I saw on your Instagram not too long ago you were absolutely stacked. You're still ripped, still hitting the gym.Speaker 2:
Thank you. Yeah, I'm in the gym every day. Yeah, like 45 minutes a day just lifting weights. Thank you, Crushed it.Speaker 1:
Okay, so what's the future of your empire here? This is so exciting, I mean just listening and looking at what's going on. The rate of where does this go now? Are you going to monetize? When do you cash in on all this?Speaker 2:
Yeah, there's already a business model here that is at least $300K a year in revenue through sponsorships, just through what I'm doing today. But I don't really want to build an events business or just something small. So I was thinking about I'm thinking about all the things I do really well, which is I have basically a lead gen program to attract some of the most talented tech people in the world and I bring them in through events and I can drive that through content and socials. So the events business by itself is a good business, but on top of that I want to build like a platform layer, which is I've all these senior investors coming in. I want to help them. Is that raising a fund that already run a deal flow program? I help founders raise money, but maybe that's a fund. I have this talent network 20,000 people who at some point are looking for work, so I can connect them with talent. I got partnership network hotels, restaurants, bars, travel, all that kind of stuff. So you probably start to see, like all these moving pieces where it could become a venture studio or a membership club or just six different separate businesses that are connected through that thing in the middle, which is the network thing here. So that's what the board is for. But I don't know. I think I might take some time to explore and just try a little things. Maybe I'll throw a retreat, build a mini business out of the newsletter and then I'll just see what lands and whatever lands and I find energizing, I'll go all in on, surely?Speaker 1:
a surely a podcast and no reference to the all in podcast, which is Jason Gallicanos, and I know you were on his other podcast recently which is well worth checking out. So you got the July Tech Rooftop Mixer, the Secret Party, nyc. You've got Immigrant Founder Mixer. July Junto Club I hope I'm saying that right Tech X Fashion Secret Party. August Tech Rooftop Mixer. The list goes on.Speaker 2:
If people want to get onto that list.Speaker 1:
Where do they go?Speaker 2:
Go to AndrewsMixerscom to subscribe there. If you're in Twitter, I'm at Andrew Young and I'm at A-N-D-R-U-Y-E-U-N-G, and then, if you're in Twitter, that's Twitter. Instagram is at AndrewsMixers as well, so any of that.Speaker 1:
Thank you so much for joining us today. It's been very insightful. I hope the audience can take some inspiration from someone doing events more than once a year and not having a full breakdown needing a week in Malibu. Thank you for sharing with us, andrew, and yeah, I hope if I visit NYC you'll be able to hook up and I can get into one of your events. I'll get on the list early. Ecommerce Gold is brought to you by Rewind. Protect your store, protect your revenue. Shopify is only responsible for protecting its entire platform, not your store. Maybe your new app that you've just installed messes with some of your theme code and you need to undo it. Maybe you accidentally delete some custom information or order information. Maybe your store goes down and you quickly need to get it back up. All of these things can be done by Rewind. It's used by Glossier, liquid Death and a number of other in fact, 100,000 organizations across the globe. Go and get it installed today. Ecommerce Gold is also brought to you by our friends over at Sendlane. Sendlane are the up and coming email, sms and reviews solution that I predict every ecommerce store in the next year to two will be using, because I have seen the features that they have and that they are bringing. They are hungry for your business. They're taking a personalized approach. You're probably using someone like Klaviyo, but what have they done for you recently, really, and how good is their solution? Actually, I've seen Sendlane. You should see it too. Go and check it out.