Q&A with Meetup Organiser Nicholas Fearn (Tech Dragons)

A while back we started a Q&A series with local meetup organisers, starting with Steph Locke.

This time we have Nicholas Fearn (@nicholasgfearn) of Tech Dragons fame…

Tell us about Tech Dragons. It’s a Welsh startup news website but you also run offline meetups, is that right?

Nicholas FearnI launched Tech Dragons in 2015 to shout about the great things that are happening in the Welsh tech scene. We lacked our own tech press, and I wanted to change that.

I position Tech Dragons as a platform for the Welsh technology community, and I started running my own meetups to bring everyone together in a more laid back setting.

What tends to happen at one of your meetups?

There are usually several talks from local technology entrepreneurs, professionals and other members of the community. The speakers will often talk about their start-up journeys and the cool things they’re working on – followed by pizza and networking time.

How do you recruit speakers? Do you approach people or do they approach you (and pitch to you)?

I’ll often approach people I’ve written about on Tech Dragons or have recently discovered. My aim has always been to give people a platform where they can speak about their businesses, work and projects.

You’ve had large audiences (by general meetup standards!) for each of your meetups. What have you done to market the meetup? How have most people who’ve come found out about it?

The events complement the content I produce nicely. Often, attendees happen to be readers, or they’ve come across Tech Dragons on social media or through word of mouth.

I’ve been fortunate to have some great supporters, including the likes of Innovation Point, Cardiff Start, TechHub, BeTheSpark, Tramshed Tech and Welsh ICE. These organisations help to promote the events, too.

Tech Dragons meetup
One of the Tech Dragons meetups (photo credit – Nicholas Fearn)

What’s your favourite moment or proudest achievement so far with running the meetup?

Personally, I’d say hosting these events have made me a lot more confident. I’m diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s, and public speaking can be challenging. I feel proud every time I get up there.

I’m also thrilled at the reception the events have had – people genuinely find value in them. There’s also the fact that attended have met key business contacts, such as investors, at some of the meetups.

On the other hand, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made (or the biggest disaster moment you’ve had) when running one of the meetups so far?

To be honest, I won’t say the meetups are always perfect. Sometimes, things go wrong – it could be that a talk overruns. But I just try and learn for the next time. That’s all you can do, really: just keep on improving.

Do you have plans for more meetups in the near future?

Definitely. I recently started working at DevOpsGroup as Content Editor, and it’s likely we’re going to be working on an event together in the distant future. Stay tuned!

Has running meetups helped your branding at all, whether your personal brand, your freelance work or the Tech Dragons website? Or has it been purely for fun? Has there been any other reason or goal for doing it?

I’d definitely say that running the events has helped me to expand my network and the reach of Tech Dragons as a publication. The events are definitely fun to organise and host.

What do you think of tech meetup scene in South Wales?

It’s very diverse and always blossoming. I can remember when there were hardly any tech meetups in locations like Cardiff and Swansea. These days, there are so many – covering a plethora of topics. What’s nice is that everyone supports each other – it doesn’t feel like a competition.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of setting up their own meetup?

If you’re thinking about setting up your own meetup, just do it. Yes, it’s a big step, but you’ll meet so many people. I don’t have any regrets at all and am very proud of what Tech Dragons has achieved in three years.

Thanks to everyone who continues to support me, the website and the events.

Thanks Nicholas! Follow Nicholas on Twitter: @nicholasgfearn.