BarCamp Green Bay 2016, #2: 200 Participants

Original BarCamp Logo
One of my goals for BarCamp Green Bay (BCGB) on November 5, 2016, is to have 200 participants.

BCGB has had ~ 50 participants each year for the first three years. EdCamp Green Bay, a somewhat similar event, appears to have attracted ~ 100 participants. And EdCamp Fox Valley is scheduled for 2016, so unconferences other than BCGB are happening in NE Wisconsin.

Some participants from those two EdCamps are likely to come to BCGB 2016 if they know it's happening.

So how many people can we reasonably expect to come to BCGB 2016?

1,000,000+ people in NE Wisconsin
1,000,000+ people live in NE Wisconsin. If 5% of NE Wisconsin residents are the type who would enjoy a BarCamp, that’s more than 50,000 potential participants from our region. If half of those potential participants have unavoidable schedule conflicts with the Nov 5 event date, that’s still 25,000 who could show up.

Reasons that some of the 25,000 people without a major schedule conflict won’t be at BCGB 2016 include:

  • Haven’t heard about the BarCamp Green Bay
  • Are intimidated by the concept that everyone is a participant, not an attendee
  • Are reluctant to participate if they aren’t personally invited
  • Don’t feel it’s worth traveling ‘all the way’ to Green Bay, or don’t have transportation

You likely know other reasons for people not participating. If we come up with a comprehensive list of the top reasons people wouldn't participate in BCGB, we can then identify the most effective actions we can work on to improve chances of having 200 participants at the 2016 event.

If a core group of organizers for BCGB 2016 does a reasonable job of addressing the top reasons for not coming to the event, we should be able to attract 10% of the potential participants who don’t have schedule conflicts, which means 2500 people would register for the event if the event could handle that many. Even if we just do a mediocre job of addressing the above issues, we should be able to get a minuscule 1% of those 25,000, which is 250 people who will register for BCGB 2016.

If the above numbers are somewhat realistic, and it’s reasonable to expect 250 to sign up (not to mentioned the potential for 1000+ people to register for the unconference), why am I only shooting for 200 registrants?
Dunbar's Number

  • Limiting the event to 200 participants increases a person’s probability of meeting and beginning a relationship with most of the event participants, per the Dunbar’s Number concept for personal networks.
  • Making the event free for participants requires getting sponsors to cover the event costs. It’s much more challenging to recruit sponsors for 2500 participants than for 200. And it would be awkward or discouraging to schedule a venue for 2500 and get the necessary sponsors for a large event, then have only 200 or 100 people show up.
  • Arranging for a NE Wisconsin venue that’s appropriate for an unconference with 2500 people would be for harder than a location that can handle 200 participants.
  • Facilitating a technology unconference with 2500 people, especially the self-introductions and session grid creation at the start of the event, requires someone with advanced Open Space Technology skills and experience.
  • Planning and running an event with 2500 people is a lot more complicated than an activity that only has 200 participants.

I’ve explained why it seems reasonable to be able to get 200 people to register for BCGB 2015, and I’ve listed a couple reasons for not wanting more than 200 participants. But you might wonder why 200 participants would be better than 50 or 100. Here are a few reasons:

  • A tech unconference with more participants increases the variety of session topics, which means more cool and interesting conversations.
  • More participants means a higher probability of each participant meeting new like-minded or complementary-minded people with whom they’ll communicate or collaborate in the future.
  • 200 BCGB participants builds more momentum towards creating a virtual critical mass of people in the NE Wisconsin TIME community (tech, innovators, makers, entrepreneurs).
  • It’s more fun (based on personal experience)!

Although my registration goal for BCGB 2015 is 200, there are a couple caveats regarding that number, such as:

  • We should provide some type of wait list in case more than 200 people want to register. There will always be some people who register but don’t show up on the day of the event, or don’t participate for the entire event. We should encourage registrants to let us know if they aren’t going to participate, and we should have a way to notify interested people when a slot opens up because of a canceled registration.
  • It’s good to be able to accommodate walk-ins who are interested in a tech unconference but don’t hear about it until the last minute, or even hear about through social media or another way on the day of the event. Knowing that some of the registered 200 people won’t show up enables us to welcome walk-ins to participate in the event.

If you’re interested in helping organize BCGB 2016 or have questions about the event, please contact Bob Waldron, bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

Hope to see you at NWTC’s Corporate Conference Center on November 5, 2016, so reserve that date on your calendar today for BCGB 2016!


Other recent BarCamp posts:
BarCamp Green Bay 2016, #1: People Working On Interesting Topics
BarCamp Green Bay 2015: What Happened & What’s Next
BarCamping Civic Hackers: Participants, Not Attendees
Calling All Civic Hackers -- BarCampMilwaukee 10



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