Gogalixir 20 Feb 2024

For a long time I've wanted there to be a single-track conference in the Bay Area focused on Elixir and Erlang, in the vein of gogaruco. I love Code BEAM (and am attending this year!), but there's something to be said for smaller, locally-organized conferences where you get to meet people in your regional programming community—where you don't have to decide between conference talks, but have a single shared experience among all attendees.

My friend and business partner Erik Hanson and I have been talking about this conference for years. We were excited enough about it that we even bought a domain. What we didn't have was any experience in planning or organizing a large event.

This winter, we decided that we could solve the problem of not knowing what we're doing by starting smaller. Thus was the Golden Gate Elixir Meetup born.

Golden Gate Bridge - photo taken by Eric Saxby

Tonight is the inaugural meetup event in Oakland, at which we're hosting two talks about testing in Elixir. I thought that I would record a few notes, to remind myself of things that I've learned in the past few weeks.

  • Schedule presenters before scheduling an event.

Yeah, this should have been obvious to us. We were so concerned about finding a space that we could afford to sponsor, a time that worked, and various accounts to promote the event, that we wound up scrambling to find speakers. We're very excited that we found two people willing to talk about testing—a practice that we hold dear to our hearts—but we could have reduced our own stress if we'd started with the website and the speaker outreach before we nailed down our event space.

  • Life events will intrude on TODO lists.

I'll save the details, but wow this event snuck up on us. There were lots of emails that we should have sent weeks ago, that we didn't get to until far too close to the event.

  • The Bay Area really needs more events like this.

We began scheduling on our own, because we thought that the SF MeetUp was its own thing with its own organizers that felt an ownership over its membership. Turns out we might have been able to join it as co-hosts and plan our meetup under its existing outreach channels.

I think that for our goals (learning how to plan and organize events) we might still want to retain a separate group, and build its membership separately. We will also have a larger focus on Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area, whereas the SF group schedules almost all of its in-person events in San Francisco.

In any case, the Bay Area Elixir/Erlang communities seem like they should be large enough to support and/or need multiple groups meeting regularly. We'll see how things shake out when we meet and talk with people at our inaugural event, and at Code BEAM.

  • Ask about the dog policy.

Can people bring dogs to the event if they're well behaved? Figure that out when negotiating with the event space. A firm no is better than an I don't know.

  • People are awesome.

We've gotten so much support, both from people that we know and from people that we don't know yet. This community is amazing.

  • MeetUp is not awesome.

Up-sell much? I would love it if someone built an event hosting and management platform that supported itself financially in some way without venture capital. Free or inexpensive local events will never be a billion dollar company. Maybe there can be a platform that recognizes this and does not try to extract value from humans by popping up annoying ads and up-selling opportunities.