Lost Jacket interview of BostonTweetUp

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The following was reprinted from The Lost Jacket, March 31, 2009

Trying to find a job, network or just meet new fun people in your city? It can sometimes be harder then you think. Often we miss events or just don’t find out about them until to late. Two enterprising people in Boston saw this as a gap in the market and created BostonTweetup. I decided to talk with Joselin Mane and Rachel Levy and hear their story:

So how did your idea for BostonTweetup come together? Can I hear the backstory? How you guys met, etc?

How we met: We just started tweeting each other like tweeple do!

Joselin’s beginning (@JoselinMane): Well, I missed the August 5, 2008 at 7:00 PM Mashable Mashable event last year but afterward my man Hao Chen informed me after the event had occurred which really upset me because I thought I was pretty well connected with the social media happenings in Boston . So then I made it a new year’s resolution to not only go to more Social Media event but at the very least know about them and put them in my calendar. What I quickly found was there was no consolidated calendar for all social media events, in fact it was rather time consuming and tedious to go to the various event sites to know what’s happening. Being that I am an engineer, I systemically when thru the process of finding and adding events to my schedule. I first researched event sites, I found at least 9 different event sites: eventually let me know about the event afterward)

1. eventful

2. oodle

3. zvents

4. google base

5. upcoming

6. eventbrite

7. going

8. meetup

9. twtvite

Then once I found them, I started thinking how I could consolidate them into one calendar.

At first it was just for me. But because of the nature of social sites like twitter, where you share what you are doing with your online “friends” I quickly became known as the resource throughout Boston Social media community. At each event I would also always ask people when the next event was and quickly checked it out and added it to my calendar.

Rachel’s beginning (@BostonMarketer): I had been finding that I would only find out about a tweetup the day of an event, or not at all. On day, Joselin tweeted me, and asked if I was going to 3 events that night I didn’t even know were going on.

@JoselinMane “@bostonmarketer u going tonight? Hubspot http://twurl.nl/nrksqo or PTV http://twurl.nl/kj24ky or TiE http://twurl.nl/1yzr4y3:55 PM Feb 19th

@BostonMarketer @JoselinMane Wow, I didn’t know about any of these! How do you find out about all of these? I need a night in…6:10 PM Feb 19th”

The next day we were out with @davideckoff (in town from Florida), and I said, “I can’t believe there were 3 tweetups in one night and I didn’t know about any of them! There should be some sort of central calendar so people know where to find out about events.” Joselin mentioned that he had already thought about it, and we decided we would start the account together.

The merger!: Two days later, Rachel suggested the name, and we created the @BostonTweetUp account. The key really is that we took action immediately and continuously have refined our idea without over thinking things.

Why Twitter? Was it something special about the community and people involved with the service? You could just have easily chosen Facebook? Followup, do you feel that limiting yourself to one platform could be detrimental?

When we envisioned BostonTweetUp, we didn’t want to just use Twitter. In fact, we have already created various other Social Media profiles, including Facebook, Meetup.com, etc. We started with Twitter because a majority of our online following was already interested in learning about upcoming tweetups. Also, it was not only easy to create a profile on Twitter but it was also very easy to promote and grow a following leveraging Twitter.

Joselin also helped @successfool create a similar account in CA, and @CMajor create a similar account in NH.

What are some of the specifics of your goals/business model? (be vague for NDA obviously)

Well, the business opportunities are plentiful. We don’t see @BostonTweetUp as simply a Twitter stream of Boston tweetups. That would be short sighted and really a disservice to those who enjoy following @BostonTweetUp. We have already started expanding by adding an online calendar http://bit.ly/18Wjst, a weekly Video show (http://twurl.nl/x5i2ct), and many other service offerings and partnerships are already in the works. Next week, the video show will begin reviewing two “events of the week” with feedback from the Twitter community. We see @BostonTweetUp as a business that can be eventually sold. To have that goal one must be able to streamline the process and be able to scale it appropriately.

One of the other main goals is to provide a venue to mix those who are early adopters in Social Media with those people who don’t quite yet understand Social Media. Really, combining the best of both online and offline worlds. The essence of Social Media it to build relationships… so what better way than meeting people at a social event offline? That way when you are online you already know who to “follow” and/or “befriend”.

Also, event planners like to have as much promotion as possible, so we are a value add to them. We see a Win-Win-Win across the board: Win for the people interested in events, Win for Event planners, and Win for us for being able to provide such a valuable service!

We are also starting to consider creating a tweetup grader, similar to Hubspot’s Twitter Grader.

What is the Boston Tweetup scene like?

The Boston tweetup scene is fantastic! There is essentially a tweetup and/or event every day. “What makes Boston tweetups so great is that there are already many Social Media luminaries like Steve Garfield, Laura Fitton and CC Chapman who often attend Social Media events here in Boston. There are also many Social Media companies in Boston, both big like Hubspot and growing, like Run Keeper who often attend events as well. There are also many, many other people that attend tweetups who are not in Social Media directly or at all, which makes each tweetup its own separate unique event.

How has your project been received thus far? It seems like you are fulfilling a clear need.

@BostonTweetUp has been getting great feedback. People like to know which events are going on, and now they know exactly where to look. As we mentioned before, we are creating a Win-Win-Win business here, so it great to be working on such a project.

Describe the perfect Tweet-up.

Some of the key factors include location, time, people, technology, lighting, noise level, promotion, purpose and of course our presence :-) Again @BostonTweetUp will be revealing more in the near future, so stay tuned.

Joselin “I personally like a good diversity of people I know and don’t know. I like venues that have seats and/or couches like restaurants booths which make great spots to take pictures. Although I love to take pictures it’s always good to have a photographer and a #hashtag assigned to the event so that I can catch up with people after the event in case I didn’t get to speak to them during the event.”

Rachel “I also like a good diversity of people, but prefer standing and mingling, rather than sitting down. I also like when there is a combination of a speaker and networking. The noise level should not be too loud, or it makes it difficult to talk! Now I sound old, but it shouldn’t be too dark either… it’s hard enough to recognize people from their tiny avatar, not to mention trying to recognize them in the dark.”

Any particular tips for those people that want to start drumming up publicity or trying to get a start-up together in the Boston area?

Yes, let @BostonTweetUp know about it ASAP! ;-) We think your Mashable article is an excellent guide, also try to get some key people on board to help promote the event.

Thanks guys!

There you have it, Joselin and Rachel are great people and they want to help you the community succeed. I’m definitely going to be interested to see how this sort of model works in other cities, states and countries.

Update: As of Aug 2009 Rachel left to work full time as Director of Marketing and Social Media at Second Time Around

Short URL : http://bit.ly/BTUHistory