The lost guide of testing your business ideas on Meetup.com

Do you have an idea? have you planning on launching it for a couple of months? deciding on the right name for it? planning your site map, before even validating the need of the market?
Does it feel like the intial hesitation to approach a girl? Stop, and create a meetup now! it just takes an hour!

In 2012 I was looking to develop Business between India and Paris. I had already spent a couple of months toying with the idea and getting a feedback from friends on which name should Ichose, on planning out the website, the services I would offer… and one fine day it struck upon me to create a meetup and let things evolve!

So within an hour I created a meetup group called Paris India Connections centered around the Indian culture which would serve as a honeypot to attract all indophiles in Paris. I immediately launched a first picnic meetup 10 days down the line.

I was actually quite overhelved by the response, there were at least 10–15 people joining everyday for the next few days, and 30 people turned up for the very first meetup! 3 years down the line there are 1500+ members and around 250 people turn up for our bollywood parties!

Meetup.com is the perfect platform to test out your business idea. You can test the local appetite for your niche, get a rough idea of the size of the market, and maybe get your first customers!

Lessons learnt running Paris India Connections :

Your meetup group name is not necessarily always your business name, a meetup group is above all a community, and people should feel like they are joining a community of like minded people, and not going to a marketing event of a company.

Photos create great engagement, and are also well indexed by google! Encourage live tweets.

Get industry influencers to speak at your events to grow your meetup fast.
Repeat what works. (I tested movie nights, dinner nights, language exchange, bollywood nights, yoga sessions, business networking, talks…) For the curious, the bollywood nights, restaurant dinner gatherings and Yoga sessions created highest engagement and conversions.

Internationals in Paris is the biggest meetup group in Paris with 20 000 + members!

Connect your social media accounts to lock in your meetup traffic.
Ask questions to qualify and segment users before they join, and offer them what they are looking for:
Top questions: a) What are you looking for in this group ? b) How can you contribute to the group ?
Growth hack tip: It’s important to start collecting email addresses as meetup doesn’t provide the organizer with the list of member email addresses.
In the questions you should ask before a new user wants to become a member:
‘Please leave your email if you want to be informed through our newsletter else put a dot ‘.’. Given a choice, a good number of people tend to leave their email addresses!

Expatriates in Paris, is one of the best communities I have come across, which caters to all expat needs in Paris from baby sitting to Partying. They have an excellent social media strategy and vibrant facebook groupS!

Be sure to launch the meetup minimum 9 days before and maximum 21 days before, if you launch it too soon, people tend to forget and no shows are higher.
If you plan to hold monthly meetups, the best is to follow a pattern that people can remember, ie: every last thursday of the month.

Running a Meetup group requires a high frequency of a variety of events in the first few months. Test out the various kinds of events related to your domain.

Test the price point at which people are ready to pay for your events? For the bollywood parties we started with 5 euros and people were ready to pay upto 15 euros! And for dinners people were ready to pay anything from 12 euros to 35 euros depending on the venue, the cuisine and the theme!

Create an identity for your meetup group page, get a logo!

People do check reviews, so after every meetup, use the meetup feature that says ‘good to see you’, to acknowledge your member’s presence, in return when they do the same at times they leave a review.

a. Rate of joining upon launch
b. Total number of members joint in the first 2 weeks
c. Number of people attending your first few meetups
d. Number of people attending your first few meetups.

Compare these numbers to other groups in your city.

a. In the social selling age, you could find potential clients by organizing events and by nurturing and educating your community.
b. Your meetup group can establish your social credibility! Today I’m also a cross cultural consultant and work with public and government bodies.

c. Excellent for your digital footprint! Be sure to skillfully craft your meetup description peppered with keywords and links. Meetup pages are well indexed in google and the images from your group as well.
d. It’s your own distribution and diffusion channel.

An event organized at the residence of the Indian ambassador in Paris!

The Meetup platform has a low conversion rate these days, as people attending the events don’t have a commitment to attend the event, and expect free events. And people also sign up to just stay updated on the current trends!
If you don’t hold events regularly, your meetup group dies, people lose interest, conversion rates drop.

Taking up an abandoned / inactive meetup group can be usefull to announce a couple of your meetups and get the last few motivated individuals to attend your meetups.

Tips shared are generalities and could differ from industry to industry. Tech, startup, entrepreneurship meetups, party meetups show best traction in Paris, and the best example is the startup accelerator by The Family! They have 200+ attendees that come to their meetups during lunch break or after work, as they usually have a good line up of speakers!

Since my first meetup, I have been a meetupreneur and keep launching new meetups, taking on old ones and advising my clients to make it part of their community creation strategies, or simply to test out their business ideas!

Would love to hear from you, if you have more tips to share, feel free to connect on linkedin!

#Innovation #Polymath #Minimalist #Biohacker

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