We had the good fortune of meeting entrepreneur, Mai Hoang a few weeks ago at Crafty Wonderland and we were captivated to learn all about the upcoming event she and her sister, Tri are organizing, the Happy Go Techy Expo. Inspired by the love of tech, Happy Go Techy is taking a brilliant approach to selling your craft - integrating startups, craft, and tech all into one event...and Meylah is thrilled to be a part of the inaugural year! Be sure to check back tomorrow for an incredible Happy Go Techy giveaway!
Since she's taking such a refreshing and fun approach to organizing Happy Go Techy, we wanted to ask Mai a few questions about the event.
Meylah: Why did you decide to start this event?
Mai: 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 sexy tech gadget accessories though, it's about building a community and the members within the community. 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 bag."
Meylah: How have you managed logistics?
Mai: There have been a few key tools that have been so amazing to us for organizing logistics, and the best part is they were all free!
DropBox - Files Sharing & Sync
In the process of building our website and making marketing collateral Dropbox was an invaluable tool! It made sharing and storing files so easy. Dropbox was a solution that worked just as fast as we did. Emailing large files back and forth can be a nightmare. With Dropbox all of our files were stored on all of our devices. The coolest part was, if we wanted to go back and look at an older version of a file dropbox and restore it for us. Nothing is ever lost with Dropbox.
Zoho- Free Customer relationship management and Free Document Sharing
Keeping organized with all of the different vendors, sponsors, and media partners was kept organized with our free CRM Zoho. Usually a CRM system costs some major bucks but Zoho offers a free service for smaller companies and operations. It's so phenomenal and we'd be in a jumble without it! They also have a slew of document sharing items such as spreadsheets and documents, we can simultaneously work on editing documents which is very helpful since we live in two different cities (Seattle & San Francisco).
When we set out to start the event the first thing we did was create a Google calendar of key dates where we needed to hit key goals. We used this as a roadmap for the event and looked at it everyday to make sure we were on track. We were sure to stay adaptable so if things were changing we made sure to update the calendar. Google Calendar was great but there are many others out there.
Make sure you're on the right track by visually mapping out your goals on a big plane. MindMeister is a great tool for road mapping your goals before you build your calendar.
Eventbrite provided tools for us to track registrants and collect money. Their platform is very flexible and they let us embed the registration widget onto our website very seamlessly. This is useful for events, it's the same idea as Meylah's ecommerce platform.
Evernote served as a great tool for NEVER forgetting anything. Good ideas are everywhere but often times when you just see something online somewhere it's hard to remember. Evernote is an online notebook where you can paste in everything and anything you see while doing research. This is a great tool for brainstorming ideas. They also have a mobile app so you can paste in things from your mobile device as well.
MailChimp is the savviest Email campaign management tool out there. Not only do they have great templates to work off of, they have an amazing social media integration solution.
Tahda List provides a quick way to make sure you finish off your daily tasks. So simple and easy to use.
Often times, if you're looking for organizational tools there will be a free one out there. Be sure to look first before you start buying tools that are free.
Meylah: What lessons have you learned along the way?
Mai: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.