We have answers, Answers, ANSWERS!
Become an Organizer
Why should I start a HackerNest?
How do we support our organizers?
What does it take to be an organizer?
Can I run a HackerNest Tech Social?
What does being a city organizer involve?
Do I have to pay to be an organizer?
What is HackerNest?
HackerNest is a grassroots, nonpartisan, nonprofit movement dedicated to uniting local tech communities globally.
Cramming lots of very smart people into a room and providing free beer – rescuing them from the isolation of basements, offices, and the plight of code tunnel vision – that’s our thing. Our friendly, relaxed, and inclusive Tech Socials provide a casual, unpretentious sanctuary for nerds to really connect (with actual humans).
We have diverse and highly technical communities. We’re not scienticians, but the formula seems to work: we became Canada’s largest tech meetups in a year, before even leaving Toronto. Today we have “splinter cells” in multiple cities. We figured if a metropolis like Toronto could benefit from HackerNest, other places could, too.
We are inclusive. Our intention is to complement and strengthen existing nerd ecosystems – we come in peace. This isn’t a business; nobody owns HackerNest. Conceptually, it is the ideal of a strong and supportive tech community – pretty much anyone that isn’t a jerk can be a part of it.
Infrastructure. Operations get handled by a small team of very dedicated (and frakking stubborn) volunteers committed to making the world a nicer, nerdier place.
Interested in running HackerNest in your city? So easy it hurts. In a nutshell, a local organizing team sorts a cool tech office to host us, gets beverage delivery arranged, and does some cross-promo with the groups around town. Check more info and get in touch from our Volunteer page. We’ll make awesome stuff happen.
Why we run tech events?
A cohesive innovation ecosystem is good for everyone, for business, for society. Virtual hangouts and text is great and all, but old-school, in-real-life events remind us of what it’s like to be human (as opposed to code monkeys). Our events are a little bit different.
Tech Socials are very casual, disarmingly friendly, and super-unpretentious events for technologists from all walks of life to connect and commiserate. We don’t discriminate, only celebrate.
People who attend are genuinely curious about interesting and innovative things happening in the community/industry – they love to learn, share, gush, and sometimes whine and bitch (we all do). The vibe is so mellow and nonjudgmental that everyone leaves ego at the door; nobody feels the need to impress anyone (e.g. “I’m the CEO of Xyz Inc.” “Cool, how big is your firm?” “It’s just me right now.” “Oh.”).
You’ll find yourself having great conversations with devastatingly smart people who actually understand what you’re saying and actually give a sh*t instead of just waiting for their turn to talk. The reverse tends to also be true – techies have a knack for getting into really cool stuff.
Funnily enough, the community is self-correcting. Greasy, obnoxious d-bags, after 2-3 failed superficial interactions, either disappear or magically transform into nice people. Fascinating to watch.
In the immortal words of Bill S. Preston, Esquire: “Be excellent to each other.”
Our Organizers and volunteers all wear “HackerNest” branded lanyards so you know who to turn to for info or help, or a cold drink
- Sponsors typically have pre-printed nametags with their name, they’re all really nice and not pushy, so do go up to them if you’re interested in finding out more, or if it is even to hi 5 them for the drinks. Remember, they help fund our events.
- There should always be a powerpoint presentation running on a clear wall at the Tech Social unless the space doesn’t accommodate one.
- See a rampant individual or team just going to everyone and shoving marketing stuff to them? Kinda greasy. Our sponsors and community partners don’t do that – and we give them ample opportunity to tell you about their cool events, so they never hard sell anyone.
For the most part, the community is good at self-correcting and keeping itself in check. Here’s what you should expect from Tech Socials:
- no mandatory entrance fee (people are generally happy to donate what they can, usually around ~$10)
- without exception, everyone wears name tags – this is a huge conversation enabler
- free drinks: typically cold beer and water available for you
- occasionally wine, snacks, cupcakes, and anything else that breeds variety
- a short welcome from the organizer, announcements, quick intros from sponsors
- occasionally a short 10-20 minute talk followed by open Q&A, maybe a demo
- no greasy sales pitches or attempts at audience exploitation
- a safe, welcoming, and respectful atmosphere free from discrimination and harassment of any kind
- no alcohol should ever leave the premises during/after Tech Socials
Tech Socials start around 6-8PM and run until 11PM or so, depending on the intensity of the crowd and venue
limitations. Using HackerNest Toronto (last Monday of the month, 8PM) as an example, here’s a typical agenda:
20:00 – folks waltz in, get drinks, start socializing
20:45 – welcome note and 2-3 minute sponsor intros
21:00 – back to socializing (unless, of course, we have a demo or short talk with someone interesting)
23:15 – finish up, promise to hit hackernest.com soon, RSVP for the next one :D, help clean up, and finally head home
Always check your HackerNest city’s Meetup for event times/days as these do vary with the offices we showcase.
Prepare for a Tech Social
There’s really not much to do beforehand. Since this page is all about bullets, here’s another one:
- Make sure you get lots of sleep, some of these go late!
- Bring contact cards to make it easier to connect with nice people you find compelling.
- Have your phone(s), tablets, etc. charged so you don’t run out of juice.
- Dress for the space and weather – layers rule, a brolly if it might rain, galoshes if it floods, and remember, air conditioning only works to a point!
What Not to do!
Here’s some tips we’ve compiled based on the dozens of events we’ve run, the continuous feedback we get, and watching the evolution of the community! We’ll add to this as we find nifty things worth mentioning.
- Shoving business cards or flyers into everyone’s hand and walking off: It’s akin to self-serving spam! Noooooo
- Posting blatant recruiting ads in the meetup discussion group threads.
- Getting waaaay drunk. (see one? Tell an Organizer, we’ll deal)
- No unsolicited, hard selling. Or selling in general.
- And finally, don’t forget to bring your contact cards!
Our members help us keep our events clean, like a good rugby game. Do correct their behavior and/or let an Organizer know what you saw.
If there is alcohol at the Tech Social (most of the time there is), we typically need to keep them inside the venue for security and liability reasons. They also need to be given to you opened. Organizers, volunteers or office staff may ask you to bring yours in or not let you take your drink out – they’re not trying to cramp your style, just trying to keep everything safe and kosher. Do heed their guidance.
If you see someone trying to leave the event with drinks, call them out and alert Organizers/volunteers so that the offending people can be removed. Stealing is not cool and what we provide is for everyone’s enjoyment at the event, not after it. Stealing from HackerNest is stealing from all of us. Bad dog. slap, slap.
Your experience with us
We value each city that we are in. As we grow, maintaining the essence of what HackerNest and our Tech Socials are like is paramount. Unpretentious, laid-back, and accessible to all levels of community. Please let us know about your experience in any of our cities – good or bad – we want to hear it:
- Did you find an equally fabulous co-founder for your next project?
- Got hired from someone at a Tech Social and love your job?
- Started learning a new programming language because of a friend you made at HN?
- Someone made you to pay to attend?
- Hounded by recruiters that have no shame?
We want to give credit where it is due, but we also want to ensure that your experience is held to the gold standard that we’ve become known for.
Where have we gone and where are we going?
As of May 2014, we’re in over 15 cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo, Dallas, Seattle, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Tbilisi. Our HackerNest Construct hackathon series continues, and we are about to launch a peer-based education platform that’ll empower teaches and students in the tech ecosystem. << all this works toward our ultimate goal of poverty alleviation.
For 2014-15, we carefully spread in cities across North America and internationally to cover continent-to-continent-to-continent-to-continent-to-continent. (Yep, we only have the five down...for now)
Who comes to our events?
Great question. We typically see all sorts of web/mobile developers, coders, programmers, UX/UI designers, engineers of all kinds, hardware hackers, database gurus, network admins, innovators, social media types, general tech enthusiasts, journalists, investors, marketers, and unsurprisingly, lots of sapiophiles.
Our crowds are:
They’re generally between the ages of 20 – 49.99. 25-32% female. About 90% of people that RSVP actually show up. AND then we add on the undocument +1s, those who don’t use Meetup that just show up, and more.
How does the movement stay alive?
By sheer force of will. And sponsorship. And you. Without volunteers and organizers pouring countless hours and tons of effort into planning, coordinating, fundraising, and execution — without you coming out to hang, and engaging in brilliant social intercourse — there would be no HackerNest.
We’re working on various ways to keep the organization sustainable, independent, and fresh as we continue to grow our networks, events, programming, and organizer outreach. Currently, we stay afloat on sponsorship and ‘pay what you can’ door donations.
Coming soon: More Very tech-focused hackathons. A peer-based workshop/class platform to empower independent instructors who want to teach their passion to others. More events to endorse and promote women in technology. Even more Tech Socials in cities around the world.
Onsite Volunteers contribute their time on the event day to help with setting up, running the event, and cleaning up afterwards. We are guests in the spaces we use, so we are cognizant that we return every office to its original configuration.
General Volunteers help with Tech Social planning, specific functional areas, deliverables or otherwise and are able to contribute more time and resources than solely on the event days. Volunteering is an awesome, fun, and low-commitment way for folks to gauge their interest in building communities in the fashion that we do, and are definitely our first choices when we seek potential Organizers.
Our events always need help. If you’d like to join us, please do reach out to our Organizers in the city you’d like to help in. Not sure who to go to? Ask us.
Volunteers believe in our cause and graciously offer their time to us in the capacities that they can. You’ll meet a bunch of awesome technologists, contribute to a great nonprofit community movement, and it’ll get you out of the house! “HackerNest” branded lanyards are worn to identify Volunteers and Organizers – everyone will know that who helped, and that the beverage they are drinking is because we worked hard to put it in their hand. We believe in karmic goodness.
In general, we ask our volunteers to spend 50% of your time at assigned stations and monitoring the room for empties, garbage, etc. The remainder of the time, you’re a regular attendee – that means drinks, mingle, and relax!
Here’s what you’d help with: General setup, welcome desk (and the front door), beverage stations, photography, closing & cleanup.
We are referred to as “HackerNest [City]” (e.g. “HackerNest Toronto”) or just “HackerNest”. We capitalize the ‘H’ and ‘N’ to make it easier to read. Our regular events are called “Tech Socials” – self explanatory.
Here’s some social media stuff. Link your posts to @HackerNest or +HackerNest.
City-specific: #HackerNestTO, #HackerNestVAN, #HackerNestKW, #HackerNestSEA,#HackerNestDFW, et. al
Become an Organizer
Our Organizers represent HackerNest in the cities that they are in and tend to be teams of 3 or more technologists. From event-to-event, we typically have the 2 or 3 Organizers in charge of planning and delivering every Tech Social – they coordinate with the rest of the team and volunteers to ensure success. Depending on the city, there may be 6 to 12+ Organizers and volunteers helping on our event nights. We’re putting together a HackerNest instruction manual and bundling up the flavor and success of our original Toronto events to help others start HN “splinter cells” in their own communities.
Why should I start a HackerNest?
To foster innovation and ultimately contribute to improving tech education and skill in your community. To do something good for your city. To strengthen the local tech scene. To build community and camaraderie. To spark brilliant conversations. To support each other. To get people out of the house, the office, the basement – out of isolation. To connect with others who are also working hard at making something better. To link people with jobs and cofounders. To learn about all the neat stuff happening around you. To hang out and make friends with other smart people that understand you. To belong. We aspire to have one “splinter cell” per city.
Your role: Cool tech office locations, beverages, and cross-promo with our other tech group friends.
Some organizer perks (though hopefully, these aren’t the only reasons you’d get involved):
- You’ll get a smug sense of self-satisfaction knowing that you’re doing something genuinely meaningful and empirically good for people
- By championing a more cohesive grassroots tech community and connectivity with your city’s greater innovation ecosystem, you’ll end up becoming very, very central in the community
- Operating under the banner of the established, legit, no-bullshit HackerNest movement can lift your credibility and enable conversations with people/companies that many would kill to get access to
- You’ll be connected to something grand; what will be the HN support network across cities
- You’ll meet a plethora of really smart, really competent people
- And oh-so-much-more!
How do we support our Organizers?
- help guide you with the best practices and experiences we’ve picked up from running popular, successful events
- connect you with a solid, growing peer-group of Organizers to talk, spark ideas, and draw wisdom from
- help pull together sponsorships, partnerships and relationships
- lend our clout to help pitch for endorsement, funding, and support for your events
What does it take to be an Organizer?
Competence. Ferocity. Stick-to-itiveness. Good intentions. Reliability. Anti-flakitude. Drive. A passion for bringing people together, good organization skills, and being pretty damn resilient are essential.
If there’s a fit, we want you forever (or a very long time!). City Organizers typically agree to help run a city for a year or two (about 4 or 6 events a calendar year). After that, if event planning is your thing – then rock on and keep powering your city. If not, helping us with multi-city, regional, or national development could be a thing.
And if you’re thinking of something more functional in nature, your city-experience will give you the experience and knowledge to affect significant change, be it sponsorship outreach, global event operations, brand and marketing, website administration, audience development, peer-based workshops, or some top-secret project we’re working on.
Remember, we are a growing international organization, so there’s plenty to do within a city or throughout HackerNest in general.
We think events like ours are good for society. People seem to agree, since they keep coming back. We want that everywhere, so we’re sharing what we know so others can replicate our success. Imagine traveling half way across the world and hitting up a familiar HackerNest Tech Social and making new friends. How cool?!
Can I run a HackerNest Tech Social?
Absolutely. They’re simple to set up, don’t take a ridiculous amount of time, are fun to run, and you’ll make a million friends. You’ve come out, connected with other HackerNesters – you get the vibe and know what we’re all about — great! Find a partner in crime and get in touch. We’ll do a call to manage expectations and make sure everyone understands the flavor/intent/vibe/message/spirit we’re pushing and go from there.
What does being a City Organizer involve?
Once you’re properly set up with us, being a HackerNest City Organizer will require a few hours of commitment every week, sometimes even less. Organizing is so simple, it hurts. In a nutshell, this is what being a HackerNest Organizer entails >> Location, Beer, and some Cross Promotion.
Need a little more detail? Sure. Organizers typically get up to this:
- building, coordinating, and working with their city’s organizing team (and us)
- sparking new relationships in your community, strengthening current ones
- planning, organizing, and running regular Tech Socials (every 2-3 months to start)
- choosing dates/venues, promoting the event, connecting with local sponsors, handling the budget, coordinating volunteers, managing the actual event
- facilitating community dialogue and interaction around events and in their city’s forum
Do I have to pay to be an organizer?
Interested? We hope so. Check out our Volunteer page and send us a note. Please include important tidbits like:
- a bit about yourself: where you are, who you are, what you currently do, etc.
- why you (and your team?) are a good fit
- a little background on the tech scene in your city
- how much time you’d be able to dedicate
- anything you might want us to know beforehand
- any questions/concerns you have
- whether you have people in mind for co-organizers and if they’re applying jointly with you
Why Sponsor HackerNest?
Our fabulous sponsors help keep this movement alive. We love developing deep, long-term relationships. Our sponsors continually engage with our highly technical audience in a personal, not-so-formal way to build community goodwill, evangelize products and services, as well as to connect with potential recruits. Read more
Already a Sponsor?
Thank you for your endorsement. You’ll find your relationship with us will be unlike any other. Joining forces with us will be fun. Promise! Looking forward to seeing you on social media and in real life.
If you’ve recently come on board with us, your local point-person should be coordinating with you on all fronts to ensure we’ve aligned leading up to, during, and post- Tech Social.
Need even deeper engagement?
If you’re interested in multi-city, regional, or global sponsorship – do email us so that we can kick-off that discussion. We’re growing across North America and internationally, so there’s lots of opportunities for synergy. :). Check our goings on in news and updates, or our press kit for more background.
Tell us what you think!
Our relationship is predicated on open communication and transparency. As such, we love hearing feedback – things we are doing well, where we can improve, testimonials, a huge hi-five!
Have questions we haven’t answered? Please ask us.