Kicking off TEDx Reading 2017
So here we go TEDxers,
I have set my self the task of keeping an update blog for the event this year.
Those expecting one last year will note that consisted of 2 updates barely enough to fill a flier. There simply was not time. This year I will do better I promise.
For those who have not met me I am Mark Binns the Licensee and Lead Organiser of TEDxReading. This means I build and manage an Exec team. Through them I create a ‘TEDlike experience’. This includes the curation and development of the speakers, finding the venue and sponsorship, staging and set design, the filming and editing of the videos, catering, exhibitors etc.
If I choose the team wisely I should only need to liaise between them and develop speakers after the first couple of events. Or so I am lead to believe. Time will tell 🙂 On the day of event I will be managing the proceedings inside the soundstage.
I get bored easily and keep myself occupied with many projects of which TEDx is just one.
Outside the event, my company develops innovative ways to utilise UAS (drone) technology in many different industries. As a hobby I have developed an automated domestic aquaponic system to feed a family of four all year. This will be well into to the testing phase by the time of the event. It would be nice to provide some of the food for for the day with Zero miles. Lets see what is possible closer to the time I will keep you posted.
I was granted a TEDxReading license first in 2015. I managed to get a small team together and things went well finding speakers at first but our main sponsor folded and had to pull out and with no other support coming forward the disappointed team slowly dissolved. I had however learned a lot in that time and also developed relationships with the council and local industry which would prove instrumental in making the 2016 event such a success.
The trials endured in the previous year suggested I needed to find a more experienced and driven team with the right intentions but that is a lot more difficult than it sounds. With the event restricted to 100 attendees, until the criteria has been met for the larger license, there is not enough ticket revenue to employ anyone so all involved must altruistically work for the love of TEDx and the spreading of great ideas. Precious time was lost trying to locate and engage these people. In fear of not being given a third chance, I felt I had no choice but to go it alone.
2016 was Reading Year of Culture. A year long collection of art installations, festivals, music, theatre, exhibitions, and anything else conceivable that brings folk together. Once some of the council staff involved in the arts realised there was a real chance of a TEDxReading they quickly sold the idea to their colleagues with all the enthusiasm of true TED fans . It quickly gained momentum and not a minute too soon. A sponsorship package was negotiated.
Each month had a theme or ‘Pillar’. TEDxReading went on to become the key event for March which was focussed on ‘Reading 2050’. Nearly everyone I mention Reading Year of Culture to has a blank look on their face. This was not through any lack of effort by all involved to promote it. It really just shows just how disconnected and impossible to penetrate Reading really is. This is something we are going to challenge over the coming years.
A few months before the 2016 event I took on Harminder, a Finance Business Partner for Oracle as the event’s Finance Manager. The budget was going well off track without sufficient sponsorship, me spread so thinly and costs spiralling. On my own I was seriously struggling to not loose my second event. Harminder’s skills with the planning the attendee experience, manipulating spreadsheets and her insistence that the £45 ticket price was both achievable and fair, gave me the support I needed to drive it through to it’s successful conclusion.
Harminder is back with us this year with much more input as the co- organiser and Attendee Experience Exec. 150 people on site can go very wrong if not managed in the way she does it.
Returning for another round is Claire West from our amazing event photographer. Her shots were filled with drama and she really captured the soul of the day. Clare will be taking on more responsibility this year, she does not realise this yet and will be finding this out tomorrow.
Those lovely, well thought out booklets that hung around the necks of the attendees were the product of days of back and forth, markup and mockup between myself and Jon Cox the event designer. He was responsible for the graphical theme of the event, adverts, logos, banners and sponsorship documents. Jon, a graphic designer working in BMW, spends his lunch breaks rushing through last minute jobs for me. Even while becoming a dad right in the middle of it. Very happy to have him back.
The newest member of the team is Clare Taylor who runs Avatar Creative. She has the unenviable task of managing our marketing. With a website, facbook page, Linked in account, twitter feed and email subscriber list she has her hands full but has already sorted out the shamble left over from last year.
This is however not the complete team. I am meeting more potential volunteers this week with both the skills and will to make this the best event yet. Though we are going to have a hard time matching the quality of speakers from last year. If you have not seen them yet go to the Talks page and check them out. There is something for everyone.
So in conclusion, I can see it being a much slicker operation this year.