Originally posted on Medium Feb 7, 2020 (pre-corona)

When the Product Hunt team put a tweet out calling for hosts in cities to host their Global Meetup we jumped at the opportunity.

Having conducted multiple workshops for the design community in Sri Lanka with the Very Bad Wizards (a product & service design agency) we thought this would give us a good segway to band together the maker community comprising of engineers, designers and product managers. These three pillars of ‘making’ however, tended to work in silos and we really wanted to break that.

However, we were faced with a challenge

Most meetups we had attended thus far locally were notorious for being one of the following:

The current perils of meetups
The current perils of meetups

We wanted to do something solid. Where people didn’t just come to hear one person talk for an extended period of time and go home without having anything to take away.

So, in Very Bad Wizard style we designed it:

We have an exercise that helps get ideas out of people, fast. Without having to go into an endless debate about the specifics.

The Product Hunt Colombo Meetup hosts prioritizing challenges
The Product Hunt Colombo Meetup hosts prioritizing challenges

The main challenge we were facing was this:

the main challenge we were going to solve for
The main challenge we were going to solve for (HMW stands for How Might We).

There were other smaller challenges that we were also going to address:

As you can see the main theme was driven around creating an engaging meetup.

After looking at outside inspiration for how other people managed to create amazing meetups for about 10 minutes, the four meetup hosts sat down to sketch out how our meetup would look like to solve for the top challenges.

The big idea behind this exercise is to not dive into endless discussions of what it should be, rather, to make things that are abstract (in our head), tangible.

When the sketching session was done after 20 minutes, we went for a round of dot voting to 1. Create a heat-map of the things we liked in everyone’s concepts. And 2. to select one winning concept!

After 5 minutes of heat-map voting, we had a winning concept!

All four of us had our eyes set on one concept.

The Winning Concept

What the meetup poster would’ve looked like
What the meetup poster would’ve looked like
What the agenda for the meetup was
What the agenda for the meetup was
Event Memorabilia
Event Memorabilia Concept

If you can’t understand what’s on there I don’t blame you. Here’s what it means.

The meetup was split into two parts:

  1. The Lightning Design Jam workshop — a workshop that was similar to one that was used to brainstorm the meetup but to find out the main challenges in the maker community, prioritize the challenge & come up with solutions to solve for it, together.
  2. Maker Demos — The Maker Demos segment was to feature the local creator’s products, but with a twist. We adopted the Japanese style of presenting called ‘Pecha Kucha’ which comprised of talking for 20 seconds per slide, 20 slides in total, a total of 6.67 minutes of speaking time. The big idea around doing this was to keep it concise and force the creator to have one single narrative or important lesson he/she wanted the audience to take away.

How did it all look?

With a winning concept, we had all the groundwork needed to set up the meetup.

This was what the poster in high-fidelity looked like:

The main meetup poster
The main meetup poster

We also wanted to have some memorabilia for the attendees (as shown in the last panel of the concept sketch):

The attendees whose solution got picked for the Lightning Design Jam exercise would’ve gotten a custom made Apprentice Sticker:

And for the creators who presented for the Maker Demos, they got a Master Sticker:

How did the meetup go?

The response to the meetup was very positive. The lightning design jam exercise helped get everyone’s ideas out and allowed all perspectives to be heard.

Attendees going through the Lightning Design Jam Excercise
Attendees going through the Lightning Design Jam Exercise

The entire photo album of the meetup is available to view here.

We had 3 groups of about 10 people in each one, all attendees coming from either product management, design or engineering principles. We noticed more product managers (CXO’s, founders and directors also fell into this category) attended as opposed to engineers and designers, least of all being designers (something we’ll be solving for in the upcoming meetups).

Each of the three groups had different perspectives to what was the most pressing challenge in the local maker community right now. As event hosts, one of our goals was to also help the attendees empathize with the challenges faced in the other principles of making/creating and we felt that it was thoroughly realized by the end of the exercise. #HugeWin.

As for the Maker Demos, the presenting style was challenging for the creators. But they rose to the occasion and delivered a really memorable story in under 7 minutes!

What did the attendees think of the meetup?

Here’s the RAW feedback we got!

We took it in the ‘I liked’, ‘A success was’ & the ‘I wish’ format:

The attendee feedback
Attendee feedback

Overall, we felt that the big challenge of curating the meetup to help the attendees deeply engage in a subject was overcome in the format that we decided on.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received, we plan to have one Product Hunters & Other Bad Wizards Meetup every month and constantly iterate on the challenges faced by the maker community and to also keep making it better each time with the feedback we receive!

Special shoutout to the Product Hunt team for being the absolute superstars they are. Allowing us to develop the community worldwide, sending us Product Hunt merchandise and answering any questions we have promptly! It's a real honour to be a community host 🙂

Lastly, if you’re around for the next Product Hunt Meetup in Colombo we announce it on our Instagram page when the agenda has been confirmed!

Looking forward to seeing you there! 🧙🐱

Designing & Executing a Product Hunt Meetup