Andrew Ellis is Founder at Like Minds. His biography is impressive: from designing album covers at Hipgnosis on Denmark Street for Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, to designing Katherine Hamnett’s ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ T-shirts, you’d be hard pressed to find a band or name that he hasn’t worked with.
In 1994, foreseeing the digital explosion, Andrew Ellis set up one of the UK’s first digital agencies, Eyetoeye, that continues advising companies and brands today. The agency worked on some of the first websites ever including Arthur Andersen’s global presence, Moneyworld and many other startups in the Dot Com era. He even designed the stationery and intranet that is still used in the House of Commons today.
Andrew got pulled into the events industry after attending a First Tuesday event in the mid 1990’s. Entrepreneurs wore green badges, investors red and intermediaries wore amber. He was hooked. It was this experience, coupled with what TED.com were doing, which inspired him to set up his global thought leadership platform Like Minds in 2009. Like Minds now manages events across the world reaching over 11M people on social channels by live streaming and live tweeting the events on the #LikeMinds hashtag.
Pick the Right Venue
Andrew has become an expert in finding and choosing the right venue for different types of events. One of the biggest irritations for him is venues without character. “This is why I love to use a Soho venue. There is so much history and character to many of the buildings here, it gives the audience more to talk about and remember than if they were in a lecture hall or conference room.”
“One of the key things to look for when searching for a venue is to ensure there’s no sound leakage. The room needs to have its own environment and not attached to a restaurant or bar. It is difficult for an audience to concentrate on a speaker when they can hear background distraction”.
Choose Your Audience
Once the venue is sorted, Andrew says that the key to a great event is getting the right audience for the speakers. Like Minds often pre–register people for some of their events which mean people apply for their ticket and have to answer a set of questions about themselves. This enables him to ensure he’s getting the right people attending.
Like Minds also charge a fee. Andrew says that if people are given free tickets they are more inclined to drop out at the last minute (typically up to 30%), which is a headache for organisers.
Promote Your Event
Social media is a key tool for any event planner as it helps them to reach a wider audience. Andrew says, “Make sure you post your event on the relevant group pages on LinkedIn, use Twitter cards, Google Ad Words and make it public on Eventbrite to ensure you reach the widest audience to promote it”.
“Ensure the venue has good, strong Wi-Fi. We live stream our events, blog and tweet content before, during and post event to encourage content sharing, so a dedicated Wi-Fi channel is paramount. If we have over 300 people tweeting during an event we need a dedicated line to ensure a smooth broadcast.”
The most important piece of advice Andrew has for anyone holding a business networking event is to give yourself eough time to plan. Realistically you need 4-6 weeks. He told us, “Remember the 5 P’s; Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.
The annual Like Minds Ideas Festival “From Startup to Scaleup” takes place on September 29th in Exeter. Tickets are available here. Register at Like Minds for their newsletter and follow @wearelikeminds and @drewellis on Twitter. Like Minds is Onyx’s event partner.