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Keit Oliveira for DevRel Brasil

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Tech Events are NOT as cool as you think (from an organizer perspective)

Hello everyone!

My name is Keit, aka @k8dev, I'm Brazilian and, besides being a programmer, I've been organizing technology events for 8 years.

I'm currently responsible for several technology events, one of which is the renowned FRONTIN Sampa, one of the largest and most traditional technology events here in Brazil, which has a great influence on the dev community. This event takes place annually in July, in the city of São Paulo, where we cover a wide variety of topics related to front-end development and related areas.

However, we face significant challenges, as many people don't recognize the value of this type of event, and this isn't just limited to the developer community. If I had to list my main frustrations as an organizer, they would be the following:

  • Difficulties in securing sponsorship.
  • Maintaining engagement before and after the event.
  • Managing partnerships and communities.

The event FRONTIN Sampa has always been an iconic event, even before I took over the organization in 2016. However, it's important to note that without adequate financial resources, it's impossible to provide a high-quality environment, good speakers and a competent team to hold an event of this size. Here on this side of the globe, companies even show interest in participating in events, but the offered sponsorship values they want to give as sponsorship often barely cover the costs they have with their own infrastructure on the day of the event.

As an example, the last FRONTIN Sampa generated approximately 100,000.00 BRL (20,368.26 USD) in sales, while sponsorships only amounted to around 12,000.00 BRL (2,444.04 USD), without taking barter into account. Exchanges alone are often unequal to what we deliver during the event and on social media. Even with excellent sales, if we do a quick calculation, it's clear that the equation doesn't add up. Organizing events like FRONTIN Sampa requires not only resources for the day of the event, but there are efforts and resources needed before and after the event that are usually not accounted for. Here at FRONTIN, the company I set up to manage events, we have a number of needs such as:

  • Social media management
  • Graphic design
  • Sales
  • Content production
  • Marketing
  • Subscriptions to services such as Mailchimp, Google Workspace, Figma, Canvas, among others
  • Event management
  • Partnership and sponsorship management
  • Public relations
  • Accounting management

And so on and so forth.

It's almost a year of planning and execution, with monthly costs that are impossible to meet without sponsorship or personal investment. And yes! Sometimes the organizers have to take money out of their own pockets because, once again, the equation doesn't add up. We're talking about around 10,000.00 BRL or more to maintain the structure and team needed to produce the event, monitor social media, manage the community, communicate and other activities.

We're talking about around 170,000.00 BRL or 34,000 USD to produce FRONTIN Sampa this year!

On the other hand, we have an audience who often complains about the ticket prices. We always try to offer extremely affordable tickets — which are usually not compatible with an event of such high standards, specially in the middle of a recession. We implemented strategies such as selling tickets in advance and offering half-price tickets to make the event as accessible as possible. However, it's not uncommon to come across people who don't recognize the hard work behind organizing the event and make unconstructive criticisms publicly.

When it comes to partnerships, communities and tech influencers, many of them are more interested in the coupons and free tickets they receive than in actually helping to publicize events and build an environment where people can learn, share and have fun. What's more, managing these partnerships is often complicated, as it involves an exchange relationship. Once again, the lack of financial resources affects our ability to give proper attention to these partnerships and to follow up on the fulfillment of obligations on both sides.

This year has been particularly challenging, with few financial resources and many events to be held to meet the community's expectations. It was so difficult that I was forced to put practically ALL MY MONEY into FRONTIN to ensure that all the events took place even though I didn't raise enough funds. This has made me rethink several times whether it is worth continuing to produce these events.

I'm looking forward to hearing the perspective of other people who actively or voluntarily work on tech events. I'd love to talk to you and maybe find some motivation to keep going, or even companies to be joining us in the next event. I believe that our work is fundamental to creating an environment where people can connect and I truly don't want to give up.

Thank you!

Top comments (28)

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mateusjatenee profile image
Mateus Guimarães

Most people — including myself — have no idea how challenging it is to organize events. Thanks for letting us a take a peek behind the scenes.
It's a shame getting sponsorships is so hard. Companies should see that there's value in supporting an event.

Agian, thanks for the post and for the work you do!

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danielhe4rt profile image
Daniel Reis

I organized two events before and on both of them I lost some considerable amount of money for not know how TOUGH is to do something like that.

Of course it was not so much as you probably did, but well, still a loss.

Overall, I think that brings this topic is really good for the entire that wants to face some in-person events.

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moovhe4rt profile image
Mateus • Edited

It's a shame that companies today don't see the real value in supporting these events.
If you decide to open a crowdfunding to support the costs of the event, I'll certainly help for some money.

I really appreciate your work in organising FRONTIN Sampa. I haven't had the chance to attend yet, but I would love to one day 💜

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adolfont profile image
Adolfo Neto

I cannot write anything right now. We are in the process of organizing Elixir Fortaleza elixir.fortal.br/. Maybe after the event I can comment. I know our event in much smaller than Frontin Sampa.

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k8adev profile image
Keit Oliveira

If you need some help, let me know how I can support your event 🤘

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adolfont profile image
Adolfo Neto

Thanks!
Well, it is my first time organizing such a type of event. I really don't know what kind of problem to expect.

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theteacherjoao profile image
João Corrêa

Most people go to such events, enjoy their time, meet new people, but they have absolutely no idea of what happens behind the curtains.
Congrats for stepping forward and bringing up the challenges burdened by the organizers, and thank you very much for making it happen for the community!

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robertheory profile image
Roberto Cost

Going to tech events and giving reviews is easy, now the hard work of organizing and providing a good experience is not taken into account by everyone.
Keit, congratulations on your great work, it's not easy but you are an inspiration to many people.

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demenezes profile image
deMenezes

Three things.

First, congratulations on the post. I found it very interesting to know about these points, behind the scenes of the organization. I always imagined that this was something laborious and expensive.

Secondly, congratulations also on FRONTINSAMPA this year. I was in SP and the event was awesome, apart from @CodeintheDarkBR which is another job, in addition to the event and lectures.

Third, I will start organizing events here where I live, Porto Alegre/RS. Of course, the proportion is much smaller, but I already feel some problems, mainly with attracting people to the community, attracting people who want to speak, and with engagement. Our first event (online) is scheduled, but I'm already thinking about what it will be like in the future, and how to handle all the activities if one day the community here grows. I've barely started researching a possible in-person event and I've already seen that the responsibilities are many.

Thanks again for the article.

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renanvidal profile image
Renan Vidal Rodrigues

Excellent content Keit, I'm sorry that an event as incredible as the one you organize isn't properly appreciated. This year's FrontinSampa was my first Tech event and I had the honor of meeting you and seeing all your dedication to the event. Frontin itself was a unique learning and networking experience for me. I sincerely hope that you and your entire team get the recognition you deserve and that we have many more events of this caliber.

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bluniz profile image
Lucas Rosa

Congratulations on this great article!
Your efforts provided the best experience for this incredible event and I'm going to the event again in the next year, and perhaps as a volunteer again.

I want to organize some events in my country(Salvador BA), all of you talked about was really important for me. Thanks a lot!

Thanks for sharing your experiences! Its a really nice post and FRONTIN is the best event in Brazil!

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felipe_falkiner profile image
Felipe Magosso Poveda

Excellent article! People should know more about how challenging is to organize an event!

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev)

I have no solution but it's a very important topic indeed, thanks for writing about it.

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kvnol profile image
Kevin Oliveira

Excellent article, k8. You are a great reference for all!

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blazestudios23 profile image
Andrew Obrigewitsch

Events are never cool if you are the one having to put them on. I used to do fundraising events, all work and no play basically.

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nandosts profile image
Fernando Melo

I really wanted to participate on a dev event, and in fact I even wanted to organize one
But I know this can be challenging, and it's great to see an organizer perspective, tysm!

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lorenamattos profile image
Lorena Mattos Machado

Congratulations on bringing up such an important topic for people who have no idea how much work it is to organize an event, especially because of the lack of value given to those who do it.