Berlin Shopify Meetup #01

Sorry everyone – I kind of got a little bit behind on my blog writing. Recently, I’ve been helping to organise Berlin’s first Shopify meetup, and while it’s been a fantastic experience, it did rather take over my time lately! So this week, when I suddenly realised I had absolutely nothing prepared, I thought I’d try something a little different: sharing the details of how I wound up organising a meetup and how the event itself went.

Basically, this all started a few months ago, when I qualified as a Shopify Expert. Suddenly, I started getting a lot more Shopify enquiries from clients, and for a change, they weren’t all from entrepreneurs in other countries – most of them were right here in Berlin.

Naturally not every project was a perfect fit, which is when I realised that locally, I didn’t know anyone else who worked with the platform, and thus had no one to refer these clients on to.

So while I’m not exactly a fan of networking events, I thought it would probably be a good idea to find some kind of Shopify get together where I could hopefully rectify that problem. Which is when I discovered that weirdly, although Berlin has a pretty big startup scene and a whole lot of tech events happening on a regular basis, the nearest Shopify Meetup I could attend was in Frankfurt – a four hour train journey away.

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Oh, and it was in German, a language that I’m ashamed to admit I have not yet mastered, even after five years here. (Casual conversations – no problem. Understanding technical details – no chance.)

So I naturally inquired about the possibility of Shopify hosting a meetup here in Berlin, maybe one that could cater to the many English speakers here as well as locals (who mostly speak perfect English, just so you can feel doubly bad about your terrible German)!

The reply threw me a little: “Sure, would you like to organise one?”

Planning the Meetup

Here’s the thing – I’ve never done anything like this before. As a natural introvert, just attending these types of networking events can throw me into a bit of a panic. So suddenly being asked to organise one like it was no big deal was a bit surreal for me; almost the equivalent of being a passenger on a plane and suddenly being asked to take over the controls.

That whole “you guys know I have no idea what I’m doing, right?” feeling.

But I’ve always firmly believed that if the idea of doing something makes me a bit nervous, I should definitely do it. How else do you stop being nervous, right?

That was back in late November, and things have just flown by since then. I explained that first, I really wanted to have attended at least one of their other meetups, so I could get a sense of how they ran.

In the end I actually made an impromptu trip back to Dublin to do this (and realised that actually so long as I have something to do at these events, they are not the social nightmare I usually find them to be!)

By January, I’d been introduced to Nick, another Berlin based freelancer who also worked with the platform. A few members of the Shopify team volunteered to give talks, along with a local entrepreneur who kindly agreed to share his experiences as a merchant using the platform.

Nick had already found a location, and so before I knew it we were swept up in setting up event pages and mailing lists, answering enquiries, and all the other little to-dos that go into an event like this.

We began publicising the details about a month before the meetup date, and I think all of us were a little taken aback at the response. Privately, I’d been worried that maybe there just wasn’t enough of a community in Berlin to warrant a Shopify meetup, and had been keeping my fingers crossed that we’d at least hit 30 attendees by the time of the event.

We needn’t have worried – within a week we had received well over fifty RSVPs, and as the weeks went on, that number more than doubled.

The Big Day Arrives…

We held our first Shopify meetup exactly one week ago today, and while I won’t say things went perfectly – there were some hiccups with the venue, and technical issues meant that our main screen would just switch off mid-presentation, while the secondary screen strobed madly in a poor imitation of Berlin’s club scenes – I’m so glad I did it.

The evening just flew by, while we met a tonne of enthusiastic app developers and web designers, and it was so great getting to know local merchants as well as the Shopify team a bit better. People had so many questions that we’re now planning to make this a regular event (although I promise not to let those future meetups take over this blog like the first one did!)

And of course, if you’re in Berlin and happen to be reading this, then I very much hope to meet you in person at the next one! Please come and join our Facebook group here to keep posted about future events.