The Sock Mob started informally in 2003, when a group of London based friends decided to start walking around their city every week, rain or shine, interacting with the homeless population. They’d offer a clean pair of socks to the the men and women they met on the street, and came armed with tea, sandwiches, and toiletries. Most importantly, they’d linger on their walks, talking, listening, and building relationships. Soon enough, the homeless were referring to the group as “the sock people,” and by 2008, they were organizing their volunteer community on Meetup.
Sunnie Lovelace went rock climbing for the first time during a team building exercise for a college internship. She loved it, but wasn’t able to make it back before she graduated. After college, she dove right into grad school, taking courses online while working a full time job. For the next three years, breaks were few and far between – there wasn’t time for extracurriculars.
Three years later, Sunnie had one Masters degree and zero hobbies. In the evenings, for the first time in a long time, she found herself with time on her hands. “I remember being like, ‘Woah, free time, what is this?’” she recalls. “I found myself auditioning new hobbies.” She tried her hand at sewing and had a brief scrapbooking stint, but quickly lost interest. One day, she started poking around on Meetup, and stumbled across the CT Rock Climbing Meetup. The timing was perfect. “Since college I’d always wanted to get back into climbing.” Continue Reading →
Shannon Brinkley lost her hiking partner when her sister got pregnant. The two of them used to hike together, but the day her niece entered the world, Shannon realized she needed to expand her hiking circle.
Shannon joined a local hiking Meetup and jumped right in. Within two months, she started leading hikes. Before she knew it, Shannon was leading more hikes than anyone in the Meetup. She was hooked.
In 2010, Shannon decided to start a Meetup of her very own, and Hikers and Company was born. Shannon’s secret with Hikers and Company is her Assistant Organizers – she has 107 of them. When it comes to appointing backup, Shannon has a system. “If you ask me more than two times to lead a hike,” she says, “you’re an Assistant Organizer.” This committed crew allows her to lead more than ten hikes per week, and she appreciates the help, as well as their dedication. “I always tell them, ‘you can quit anytime,’ but they don’t quit.”
It’s clear that Shannon’s members love her Meetup. Last year, she collected hundreds of dollars in totally optional contributions from her members. She doesn’t push contributing on anyone. In fact, she never speaks of them. Instead, her members stumble across them on her Meetup’s homepage and opt to chip in. Meetup’s new contributions feature (available to US-based Organizers on your Group Settings page) is a great way to get started down that path.
Two weeks ago our General Counsel, David Pashman, headed down to Washington, DC to meet with members of the Federal Communications Commissions and weigh in on the current debate around the issue of net neutrality – the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. Pashman was accompanied by representatives from other NYC-based tech companies, Kickstarter and Tumblr, as well as the Executive Director of the NY Tech Meetup. Once he returned to Meetup HQ, Pashman sat down with this blog-happy-policy-novice to bring me up to speed. Here’s what I learned:
The present net neutrality debate stems from the FCC’s anticipated May 15th release of a new policy around the issue. Although the rules have yet to be officially released, the leaked proposal has piqued widespread concern in the tech community. The proposed rules would allow larger companies to pay a premium for faster internet service, leaving companies who can’t afford to pay in the “slow lane,” crippling their page-load times, and leaving frustrated consumers clicking ‘refresh.’
This policy puts startups at a decided disadvantage. Unable to pony up, startups will be impeded by slower internet speeds than their more established competitors. “We believe a free and open internet is imperative to foster tech entrepreneurship here in NY and in cities across the country,” Pashman said. “Net neutrality levels the playing field. In practice, the current proposal would stifle the development of exciting new technology.”
Meetup started as a startup. If rules like these had stood in our way in our early days, we may never have grown to be 15 million members strong. We believe that a company’s size, age, and financial clout should be irrelevant when it comes to the distribution of information. That’s why Meetup, alongside 150 other companies, stands for net neutrality.
If you’re passionate about this issue and want to make your voice heard, tell the FCC to stop the slow lane.
Pictured in photo left to right: Ali Kazemi (Associate General Counsel, Tumblr), Liba Rubenstein (Director of Outreach, Tumblr), Jessica Lawrence (Executive Director at NY Tech Meetup), Michal Rosenn (Deputy General Counsel at Kickstarter), David Pashman (General Counsel, Meetup), Julie Wood (Communications, Kickstarter).
Jill Salzman wasn’t planning on starting a revolution when she founded the Founding Moms Meetup in her suburb of Chicago. The moms only networking Meetup was originally supposed to be a small local gathering. When membership climbed into the hundreds for her group of entrepreneurial mothers, it was clear that she was on to something. Jill decided to turn her local community into a global network. Today, the Founding Moms are active in 42 cities across eight different countries. They “take each other’s businesses out to our own networks to help each other thrive.”
Founding Moms Meetups follow a familiar format: a speaker kicks things off with a business related lecture and then the women spend some time networking with each other. The thing is, the Founding Moms are all parents so they put their own spin on things. Every Meetup is kid friendly. It’s rare to find a business event as welcoming as the Founding Moms.
When you’re exporting your Meetup to another city, it’s tempting to just launch the Meetup without any local support. Jill is quick to note that, “You have to find someone on the ground who’s committed to the mission.” It just doesn’t work without someone on the ground to lead the community. Today, Jill has a whole process for getting new chapters off the ground, but at the beginning, she made it up as she went along. With 40 organizers, the Founding Moms schedule weekly organizer calls and are constantly communicating with each other online.
Earlier this year, Jill decided that it was time to charge her members money with tickets and dues in some of her chapters. Deciding to charge for a Meetup isn’t easy and Jill was “scared that [her members] would all just leave.” Instead, the opposite happened, her members told her that she was providing so much value to them that she should have been charging all along.
Interested in chapterizing your Meetup? Get in touch.