Party Marketing for Startups

How to throw tech events

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Would you spend $2,000 to play ping pong with your friends?

I did. Last February, I threw an event in NYC called Startups, VC, and Ping-Pong. 100+ nerds came out to play ping-pong and talk tech.

Why would I spend $2,000 to do this?

I REALLY WANTED TO PLAY PING-PONG.

No just kidding.

My thought process was if I found 1 client, I’d make more than $2,000 no problem. I ended up making $24,000 from a client I found through the event.

I over 10x-ed my investment from throwing a ping-pong party! All those years as a kid playing ping-pong with my friends in the basement finally paid off!

But here’s the thing.

You can see the first payment didn’t kick in til May 3, 2023.

But the party was in February. What gives?

Hosting an event is often a long-term investment.

The party-to-profit pipeline can take a while.

You hope that someone you meet might end up needing your services in the future. It doesn’t happen overnight.

In this case, the guy I met at the party didn’t even need my services; he referred me to his friend who needed some newsletter and Twitter work done. That’s the power of throwing parties.

I’m not the only who does this.

Startups love party marketing.

Startups throw parties more often than Gatsby.

The nerds know how to party.

2 weeks ago, I went to a fancy-shmancy black-tie-optional app launch party.

A seed stage startup rented out a social club in NYC. I swear they must’ve spent $30k on this party. Why the hell would they do that?

Well, the host Ali Debow runs an app literally based around parties. So she got 200-300+ people all using her app that night. That’s $$$.

Another example.

Since January 2023, I’ve been working with a company called Jam.dev.

My role started out in ghostwriting, but after I hosted my ping-pong event, the founder asked if I could help host events in NYC. So hosting events and promoting them within the tech community has become part of my job!

Here I am hosting an AI Demo Night in NYC.

You wouldn’t expect it, but parties are a proven marketing method for startups.

Maybe you’ve heard of dating app Hinge that everyone for some reason now uses (I was a Bumble guy back in my single days).

Well Hinge threw a launch party that saved them from bankruptcy.

“We took our last $25,000 and we threw a 2,500-person launch party in D.C. We set the date and we just worked backwards from that. […]

We were just like, we’ve gotta get everyone on at once. No one’s gonna stick around if there’s not a lot of people on this thing. We’re just gonna, like, get 2,500 people in here. They’re gonna be like the coolest, trendiest people in D.C. And they’re all gonna see each other downloading the app. And so they’re gonna think it’s cool and they’re gonna keep using it.

[We had an] open bar—Tito’s vodka just like shipped us a bunch of alcohol for free. We had a DJ, we had an art exhibition, we had photo booths and a dance party, and everyone had to download the app to get in the door.”

Hinge Founder Justin McLeod via Lenny’s Newsletter

Here’s a Harvard MBA saying he took his last $25k and threw a party.

Maybe there’s a method to this madness, huh?

How to do party marketing:

If you’re totally new to throwing tech events, here’s a solid formula: .

Start small.

Start by throwing small events for maybe 10-20 people.

Think of these as practice. When you throw a party, a lot of shit can go wrong.

  • Will anyone show up?

  • Where’s the food?

  • Can people get inside the office? (You don’t want to be running up and down buzzing people in)

Get comfortable first, then go for the moon.

Post the event on Luma or Partiful:

Don’t use Eventbrite. It looks like you’re broke. Post the event on Luma or Partiful. They’re free and are where all the cool tech events are these days.

PLUS: Luma and Partiful both have naturally built-in distribution platforms. You can submit to Luma’s NYC list or SF list to be sent out to residents there or create an “Open Invite” party on Partiful.

Distribute, distribute, distribute.

2-3 weeks before the event, start distributing.

Do the Luma/Partiful trick. Then post all over Twitter. LinkedIn. Location-based newsletters. Send DMs. Whatever you gotta do to get a waiting list going.

When I help a startup host an event, I write posts for the founders, post on my own accounts, send DMs, hit up my newsletter friends to plug it, literally every distribution tactic I know to get a full house.

Take pics.

A good party begets more good parties.

That’s why you’ve gotta take pics and share ‘em all over social media—so people know you throw bangers and will come to the next one.

Or in my case, so you get a reply from your crush Grimes 😂😉

🔥 HIT PIECE INCOMING. Founder John Coogan writes advice on “how to handle a hit piece before it handles you”.

🇺🇸 A bunch of journalists got laid off, there’s been new mineral discoveries in Wyoming. Soooo obviously let’s send journalists to the mines!

😂 I asked strangers “Is having an AI girlfriend cheating?” Lmk if you need street interviews for you brand.

🤑 How do creators actually make money? My friend Avi Gandhi writes the best Creator Finance breakdowns on the internet.

TWITTER MEMES OF THE WEEK

Thanks for reading, nerds.

Let’s blow up the internet together.

Jason Levin