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Behind the scenes: Hosting a community-led virtual conference for 25,000 people with Marcel Santilli & Rebecca Woerner

Posted Sep 23, 2022 | Views 314
# Fireside Chat
# Events
# Community Roundtable
Rebecca Woerner
Rebecca Woerner
Rebecca Woerner
Head of Events & Field Marketing @ Scale AI
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Marcel Santilli
Marcel Santilli
Marcel Santilli
Head of Marketing @ Scale AI

Marcel Santilli is a CMO with a proven track record of driving growth, building high-performing teams, and elevating brands through content, community, and experiences for both large enterprise (IBM and HPE) and hypergrowth startups (Scale AI, HashiCorp, ServiceTitan, and UpKeep).

Marcel is also an investor and advisor for a variety of early-stage startups like Metadata (marketing), Firefly (cloud infrastructure), and ProjectMark (construction tech).

Currently, Marcel is leading all of Marketing at Scale AI, a $7.3B late-stage startup with the ambitious mission to accelerate the development of AI. Scale has raised over $600M from leading VCs like Dragoneer, Greenoaks Capital, Tiger Global, Coatue, Index, Founders Fund, and YC. Since joining the company, Marcel has helped the company 5X pipeline, raise Series E, and launch two virtual conferences with over 35,000 registrants.

Prior to Scale, Marcel was the SVP of Marketing at UpKeep (Series B, $50M raised, $10M ARR) where he was in charge of Marketing, Revenue Operations, GTM Systems, and Sales Development.

Previously, Marcel was the VP of Demand Generation and Growth at ServiceTitan (Series G, $1.1B raised, $200M+ ARR). In that role, he was responsible for all aspects of revenue and lifecycle marketing, including website, content, social, community, and organic and paid acquisition.

Previously, he was the Head of Digital, Brand, Growth, and GTM Strategy & Operations at HashiCorp (Series E, $350M raised, $200M+ ARR). During his tenure, Marcel helped the company 16X annual recurring revenue (ARR), scaling from 100 to 500+ employees, and growing to 7M monthly visitors and 50M annual downloads to open source.

Before HashiCorp, Marcel successfully started and scaled multiple publications and digital teams for major global brands (IBM and HPE) including:,, These publications today attract millions of monthly visitors and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly pipeline for their respective businesses.

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Marcel Santilli is a CMO with a proven track record of driving growth, building high-performing teams, and elevating brands through content, community, and experiences for both large enterprise (IBM and HPE) and hypergrowth startups (Scale AI, HashiCorp, ServiceTitan, and UpKeep).

Marcel is also an investor and advisor for a variety of early-stage startups like Metadata (marketing), Firefly (cloud infrastructure), and ProjectMark (construction tech).

Currently, Marcel is leading all of Marketing at Scale AI, a $7.3B late-stage startup with the ambitious mission to accelerate the development of AI. Scale has raised over $600M from leading VCs like Dragoneer, Greenoaks Capital, Tiger Global, Coatue, Index, Founders Fund, and YC. Since joining the company, Marcel has helped the company 5X pipeline, raise Series E, and launch two virtual conferences with over 35,000 registrants.

Prior to Scale, Marcel was the SVP of Marketing at UpKeep (Series B, $50M raised, $10M ARR) where he was in charge of Marketing, Revenue Operations, GTM Systems, and Sales Development.

Previously, Marcel was the VP of Demand Generation and Growth at ServiceTitan (Series G, $1.1B raised, $200M+ ARR). In that role, he was responsible for all aspects of revenue and lifecycle marketing, including website, content, social, community, and organic and paid acquisition.

Previously, he was the Head of Digital, Brand, Growth, and GTM Strategy & Operations at HashiCorp (Series E, $350M raised, $200M+ ARR). During his tenure, Marcel helped the company 16X annual recurring revenue (ARR), scaling from 100 to 500+ employees, and growing to 7M monthly visitors and 50M annual downloads to open source.

Before HashiCorp, Marcel successfully started and scaled multiple publications and digital teams for major global brands (IBM and HPE) including:,, These publications today attract millions of monthly visitors and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly pipeline for their respective businesses.

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In this fireside chat we explore how the team at Scale AI launched their 25,000 person virtual conference. Marcel Santilli and Rebecca Woerner explain the behind the scenes details on how to build a community from their virtual event.

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Kyle Sutton: Well, before we jump in, I think we should probably get to know you both Marcel and Rebecca. I might ask you to do some, some quick intros of yourself, a little bit about, about who you are, and then we'll get into talking about transform X.

Rebecca Woerner: Perfect. Okay, I'll go first. I was gonna say we should, uh, intro each other and it'll be a little pop quiz too.

Um, but my name's Rebecca Warner. I am the head of field marketing and events here at scale AI. I am based on the east coast in Richmond, Virginia. Um, and I started, um, at scale about a year and a half ago, and I was, um, brought on specifically to lead the transform. Program, um, and then also establish our, our field marketing and events program overall.

Um, so prior to that, I was working in field marketing and events, um, at different tech startups. Uh, before that I was in the nonprofit world and right after graduating college, I, I worked in the hospitality, um, doing weddings and corporate event. Um, at high end resorts in Jackson hole. So I feel like that, uh, hospitality background really laid the foundation, um, for a lot of the interactions that that I have today.

Um, so that's kind of my, uh, career in, in a nutshell. And I'll, I'll hand it over to Marcel. Thanks,

Marcel Santilli: Rebecca. Yeah. So a little background on me. More, so here, help head up marketing at skill AI, um, been with the company for almost two years, and I'm sure we'll go into a bunch of that. Uh, but start a career early on at large enterprises, like IBM and HPE.

And, uh, cool thing was building a lot of these massive content programs that just grew organically. And it felt like community in some ways, because we were trying to build a community of contributors. And so that's, I think when I, uh, started to be really passionate about community and trying to build network effects into, into marketing, um, and then, um, Started moved over to startups, uh, thankfully, um, and was at Hashi Corp, which, where we had at this massive community, which I can't take credit for, but about 50.

Million downloads a, a year to our open source channels and just a massive user group community. Um, and then kind of change gears into a few different SA startups, service Titan, and upkeep in completely different industries, just to, just for the fun of it, uh, before, uh, moving over to scale and, uh, you know, being in the AI space, which has been pretty, pretty exciting.

So, uh, really happy to be here. Thanks for having.

Kyle Sutton: thank you both. I'm I'm really excited for you to be here. I'm gonna share why I'm excited, but I'm also gonna ask everybody that's here to share what they're interested in or excited to hear from you two. So in the chat drop, what are you, what insight are you hoping to get?

Why did you choose to show up today? What do you want to hear about spoiler alert? This is gonna help us navigate our conversation to make sure I hit on the things that you all want to hear about. Um, but we're, we're excited to have you here. I think what I'm intrigued by or excited to hear from the two of you is around how you connect the dots between events and community.

The they're often thought of as disparate, separate spaces that they're events are part of community or things like that. Or when I do have conversations with people it's oh, well we have an event every year. Not realizing that there's a community that's supporting that. So being able to, to tie those.

Together is gonna be really interesting for, for me.

So everybody else feel free to jump in and drop in the chat. What are, what are you interested in hearing from? And I'm gonna start us off with, with our first, uh, our first conversation, which I figured we should, we should take the playbook out of Simon Sinek and start with why Mar Marcel, you were brought in to scale.

And I think for the folks that are joining this event, cuz this is all the air table article about you. It was, Hey, welcome to scale. Do this summit. So why, why transform X? What's the goal of the, the transform X conference?

Marcel Santilli: Um, you know, I wish there's this kind of crazy story, but to be honest, um, Uh, when I joined scale, it was, uh, late January and, um, the marketing team was about two people.

So we're not that big for, for a series at the time D company. And, uh, it was kind of like, Hey, by the way we signed, we're gonna do a conference, a virtual one because you know, COVID and, uh, it's in 60 days, uh, good luck. Uh, you should lead it. And , and so that was kind of. Um, what I was, we were thrown into, but it was actually, um, lucky enough that it was that because, um, it, it took us kind of taking a step back and trying to figure out really what's missing.

One thing that I try to approach throughout my career is instead of thinking about your company, your product, like what you actually sell, um, almost think like, If you were a media company, or if you were, you know, as you're creating experiences or content, if that was your business, right, what opportunity is there in the market that's being that's missing?

You know, and so for us, when in the AI space, specifically, what we saw was kind of this wide spectrum of either. The very deep research conferences like CBPR, which are, you know, very helpful. You got 20,000 researchers and, you know, half of it, you can't even make sense of it unless you have a PhD. Um, you know, and on the opposite end of that, or the conferences either thrown by vendors that were just trying to showcase their products or, you know, conferences for money, which are just trying.

Uh, sell the sessions to sponsors and the content is not really, um, too helpful. Right? And so for us, what we wanted to do was kind of find the need and, and close that gap with people that others can be inspired by and, and help them wanna go all in, in AI or understand and navigate what the future's gonna look like within.

But hearing from people that are not just living in the research land, which is super helpful, but, but rather the people that are trying to build it into their products that are in production that are actually going through the challenges. Right. Um, and so that helps kind of bridge this gap where yes.

Maybe we're not running these super practical workshops in that first conference, but they're hearing from leaders that are day in and day out building that. Right. And so they have more empathy and, and if they haven't started their journey, they can hear from them and be inspired to say, Hey, it's possible to do that in, you know, I can bring some of these ideas back to, to what I'm doing.

And so really that was the why. And also the fact that we wanted to play to our strengths and part of our strengths was, um, we, we get to work with really cool companies and get to connect, uh, especially through our leadership team and our CEO and founder, Alex, uh, really awesome people. And it's like, Hey, you're having conversations with these amazing folks.

Why not just put a camera and just have it in front of, you know, a. About 10,000 people or so. Um, and so that's kind of how it all started. And the crazy thing was, um, you know, it was kind of this crazy 60 days. And then, um, you know, I don't know how I survived those 60 days and , but it worked so well. We had almost like 10,000 people, uh, register that almost immediately.

I said one, I need help. AKA Rebecca. Uh, and someone help actually knows what they're doing. And, and two let's just do another one right away. And so we did one in March and then we did transfer max in, uh, in October, uh, early October. So it was kind of insane to do two of these conferences. And so we said, I guess, you know, gotta double up everything.

And then we just kind of swing for the fences. The rest is, uh, history, but it was a lot of hard work for a very long time and lucky to work with talented folks like Rebecca to make it all happen and make my life a little bit.

Kyle Sutton: uh, I, I lowkey forgot that you did too. That first year thing. but I blacked that out.

That's that's, that's amazing. Um, but that goes in, I think we'll talk about later and Jen and asked a, a question about keeping folks engaged between events and how you draw that thread, but it's all of that content is now the on demand library that you can promote 12 months outta the year to say, Hey, go back.

You missed it, go watch this, go re revisit this. It seems. Seems obvious, but not everyone's leveraging that or setting up the event to be that way.

Rebecca Woerner: Yeah. And, and also to that point, Kyle, like what we've done with all of this amazing content is actually expand on that too. So something that I'm constantly reiterating to the team is we have, we interact with so many people who, um, Really learn and engage with in content in very different ways.

So we are then creating, um, these sessions into blog posts, into audio snippets, maybe into podcasts, um, hands on demos, round tables. So we're taking that foundation within these events, and then we're extending that through different programs throughout the entire year as well.

Kyle Sutton: That. Makes a Don of sense to approach it that way.

Well, you, you started with the first event and then transform X. It was converge was the spring one. Is that, am I remembering

Marcel Santilli: that? Yeah, let's try. I, we did threes in one year. it

Kyle Sutton: was a long, was a long, but you, what that did right. Rep quick iteration means you can learn a lot of very valuable lessons. And I think you all learned some lessons around what you wanted.

The experience of attendees to be what you wanted the priorities to be for, um, for how people engaged. I'm I'm curious, as you're thinking about that now, what are those priorities? What's the north star for we're, we're focused on this from an attendee experience that we, if we can do nothing else, we want it to be easy.

We want it to be engaging, could be all of the above, but. Marcel. Do you have, I know from our collaboration together, eased and low friction is, is a huge priority.

Marcel Santilli: Yeah, I think for, for us what, or at least for me, like the aha moment in the first conference was we, we put so much work in, I really think the content was really great.

and during the conference, I think the exchange of ideas and people, you know, posting messages. And then I, I think we had something like 2200 people having one on one matching meetings. Um, it was really magical, but then as soon as that was over, uh, you know, we, we said, okay, we put all this work and yes, maybe we can follow up with people and whatnot, but, but, and we have all this content to your point, Kyle, but what do you do with it?

And, and I wish I could. Nurture that group of people that just spend on average three to four hours with us, which is, you know, quite a bit of time these days virtually. Um, and so with transform act like a lot of our focus was how can we. Create an experience that it's still awesome. Just like we're having right now.

And it still feels personal despite the fact that, you know, we're just staring at a screen. Uh, but then that enables the people that wanna connect and stay connected and still interact, uh, to do so. But then also. So that folks don't have to fill out their profile every time they don't have to, you know, answer a bunch of questions over and over again.

And, and hopefully, you know, it's experiences that they're somewhat familiar with. Like this right now looks a bit more, you know, like zoom and we're not trying to reinvent the wheel and, you know, pretend like we're avatars, walking through a conference hall or, or anything like that. And we're just like, okay, this.

You know, let's simplify things, get out of the way. So the content and the engagement and the experience can, can shine through. Um, and I think for us, The focus is really being on the speakers and the quality of the content. And we do a lot of work like our product marketing teams, doing a ton of work, just researching questions that we're gonna ask our speakers and helping enable that content to be the best it can be.

You know, and I like to think of it as kind of Netflix where, you know, we're preparing a season and we're gonna drop that season one day, you know, and there's a lot of things that are prerecorded. We're hoping that everybody tunes in live to watch it doesn't mean that every single thing is live, but there's something magical about the fact that, you know, there's 20,000 other people or however many, right?

Like right now we're 20 and it's still, I think, a great experience. And that's what matters is the quality of the experience and the value that people hopefully are, are getting out of that, you know, that then builds trust with them. And then eventually you don't need to lead with your product.

Eventually, they're gonna say, oh, I'm very thankful. You created this opportunity to bring us all together, by the way, what do you do? Oh, this is interesting. If people will look you up, you know, they know how to Google things. So, so that's, I think what, what matters, but anything I missed Rebecca? Yeah,

Rebecca Woerner: I think kind of on the tactical side of things, like when I first started, um, Marcel told me about gradual and this product was like, you should look at that, like do some research on other things.

And the thing that we kept running into is like, we're in the middle of this pandemic. We can't go in person. People have this overwhelming desire to connect and interact with us. And in every platform I was looking at vetting, it was like, There was no experience where we could have it all in one place.

So we were either hosting content and ticketing on one platform, then directing people to zoom links or directing them to the avatar experience, which I personally always hated navigating through and thought never felt real. So when we were going through the steps of onboarding, gradual, it just. Like this really holistic environment that had longevity, both for our events, for our content and then for our community overall.

And what's been so fun about it is in the past year. We've also been able to kind of take this out into in person events is as well. And, um, you know, we. We use this for registration, for in person meetups. Um, we're able to navigate folks, um, and their interests and, and help guide them towards their, their, um, the content they're looking to, to learn more about.

Um, but just kind of having this home base for everyone. I think it, it makes it feel like it has. Longevity. And it's something people can be a part of instead of just, uh, a one and done. And, and that's what I like about our, our overall community program as well.

Kyle Sutton: I, I obviously like that too. We're, uh, biased, but I think that, that, um, that goes to some of the questions that folks had asked around, around engagement and it's yeah.

Being able to think. Two to three steps ahead to say, okay, well, we're gonna do this event. Let's obviously we want this to be successful and wanna prioritize that experience, but how can we plan? So we can use that activating people to create an account signing in giving us an email address to then give them more value down, down the road.

And you've go ahead. No. Go ahead. You can finish your question. No, that was, that was the end of my question that you responded though.

Rebecca Woerner: Um, well, I would say like, it, wasn't easy to curate this community. Marcel. We just passed 30,000 members. Is that correct?

Marcel Santilli: Uh, 32 as if

Rebecca Woerner: today, 32,000. That didn't happen overnight.

So I don't want anyone to think that like you just open the doors and people sign up. I think it started with having really. Incredible content, trustworthy content, trustworthy, reliable speakers, um, people that these folks in this community wanted to, to hear from. And once we built that credibility with these folks is when they really took the next step to not only engage once.

And create a profile, but engage over and over again. Um, and I think too, like being realistic. So like the first transform X, I think we had a bit over 10 K um, attendees. Then last year we had 25,000 this year. We're aiming for 30,000 plus and making incremental, but also reasonable goals. So we're also expanding to an in-person day in San Francisco.

It's gonna be a small group of 500. Marcel. And I didn't get together last summer and start planning and say, we're gonna do a huge, um, 10,000 person user conference in San Francisco, and we're gonna do it right away. Um, but kind of building these foundations, um, has really been able to, um, help us expand this community.

And then also after these big kind of flagship events, Making sure that we're keeping the community engaged. So Natalie on the call is our community manager. She runs tech talk. Once or twice, uh, a week, which is part of our, um, like technical, uh, demo program. Um, we also post non-video content on, on this and are releasing that on an ongoing basis.

So I think just keeping the audience engaged and also making sure that the content is curated, um, is, is really beneficial in, in earning that trust and, and getting people.

Marcel Santilli: Yeah, no, I would add one thing too here, cuz I, I I've been on the other side where, you know, had never prior to joining, uh, skill, I had never done an event like a conference at my life virtual otherwise.

Right. Like, and so all this, just say that I, if you. Feel like at, at any point, this is a lot, they, they must have a crazy team or like, oh, they're experts or they've been, you know, Rebecca's been doing it for, for a while, but, but like, I, I had no idea what I was doing at first and I made a lot of mistakes.

And, but I think one thing that we did was just get started in, in kind of aim high and just swing for the fences. But also simplify your life, right? Uh, figure out what you, what you know you can do and what you can do and what you're good. Uh, it was very important. So instead of trying to say, like, I see a lot of, especially the virtual stuff, people trying to do, you know, like 30 sessions live concurrently, and it's like, that's insane.

Like, you know, and maybe that works for some people and, and great do what works for you, but simplify your life a lot of times, like right now, like we prerecord a lot of. Because we wanna make it the best it can possibly be that doesn't take away from the engagement. But then we try to pick the opportunities where we do want things to be live, you know, and, and, and people can interact.

Right. Um, and we kind of have to pick our, our battles and, but also. You know, we kind of had to shake every tree and do really creative things to try to get people to it. It wasn't just like hit our database, call it a day, you know, like, uh, hire a, a paid media agency and give them a hundred grand and say, go, go do this.

It was really us just trying a bunch of stuff. Most of them fail. And then some of them worked well and others worked like insanely well, and, and then this thing just kind of snowball. And then like, eventually we're like, Wow, this is crazy. And, and I think that's the magical thing of just going for it.

And, you know, having kind of this, uh, almost entrepreneurial mindset as you approach community or you approach community led events or just events overall.

Kyle Sutton: I saw some snaps from Damari. I agree with, I agree with that one. That's, uh, I'd love to get, you know, raw nitty gritty. What, what works? What were some of those experiments from promotion for shaking that tree that worked well?

What, uh, what would you be like? Hey don't I did it already. I wasted the money. Don't do this. This doesn't work

Marcel Santilli: yeah. Oh man. There's a lot. Um, The net net is, um, everything you have to do everything, um, you really do. And, and then you have to double down insanely fast on what's working and just not focus any energy or time on what's not working.

Um, and so I'll give a, a few things, but also folks have questions on specifics. I'm happy to dig in deeper, but, um, first you wanna create, I think, meaningful. And try to have a cadence of meaningful moments, right? Those can be, Hey, we're announcing this thing and look at some cool speakers, right? Your first kind of go to market.

If you will. Uh, other ones can be a drop of a certain number of speakers, the agenda going live, you know, uh, time running out, or call for speakers, or you figure out ahead of time at your cadence of like work backwards from when the event is and try to F create these meaningful moments. You're better off having some, you know, meaningful moments throughout than trying to do tiny little things everywhere.

Right. And then try to leverage the audience you already have. That's gonna be the cheapest thing you got right to start with and get the ball rolling. Um, and so obviously like your database. Uh, we use a really cool tool for email marketing, our email overall call strip And it's like 30 bucks.

And, you know, we design all our, our emails there and import it into HubSpot. We segment HubSpot, we, we do personalization, but all things that like. Anyone can do, and there's plenty of YouTube videos or we can help. And, um, and then like, as we progress, we, we try to put some, some fuel on things, you know? So, uh, whether that's LinkedIn ads, Facebook, uh, we even try like paid search.

Although that, that was a little bit expensive. Some of our, you know, speakers have a lot of people searching for their name. So we might bid on that and, you know, on the, on social, like, We are trying to amplify things that are already working organically. Right. Um, and then, then we started freaking out halfway through because there's not enough people registering.

And that happens now every time , you know, this was about two weeks ago and we're like, crap, like what do we sign up for? Nobody's registering or not enough before registering. And then that's when, like you try to like, just pull off like all the tricks in the hat. We partner with influencers and, uh, partner with newsletters in the space.

Those have been like major growth hacks for us. We've had newsletters that we spend, you know, five, 10 grand and did very little, we've had newsletters that we partner and spend, you know, two grand and got like 500 registers that were pretty decent quality, right? Like we've had influencers that did one post and drove 500 registrants.

We have influencers that had a massive followings and drove nothing. And so it's. We, we try to just figure out like what's the most efficient way to, to get the word out. And, and I think one of the biggest mistakes we've we've made in money-wise was trying to go after the fleshy ones, especially the ones like newsletters and otherwise that are owned by.

You know, big corporations or media companies, those, you know, uh, there's a few particular newsletters where we spend an obscene amount of money and did nothing, and they're just like vanity things. And so like, we try to go. Towards like people that already have a community or they already have an audience that's highly engaged with them and try to create partnerships with them.

Um, and you know, and just rent and repeat. Uh it's,

Kyle Sutton: it's almost like you're taking a product marketing approach to community marketing. Identify my ICP, go after it qualified leads. Like don't spend the money just. Broad reach, find the, the targets that you want. Rebecca, what, what were you gonna add

Rebecca Woerner: to that?

I was just gonna say to Marcel's point with some of those kind of larger, more flashy newsletters, um, there's also kind of differentiating quality versus quantity. Like, are you just looking to kind of fill up the registration, but are those not necessarily folks within your ICP? Um, which can be a problem.

And then the second thing I wanted to, um, just add to, to Marcel's. Are, we put a lot of thought and care into our branding. So we have a tremendous internal design team. Um, we have a really amazing brand designer. Um, Marcel is really involved in this process, um, as well, but that's something we spend a substantial amount of time on to make sure that this event feels and looks in incredibly polished.

Whether it be the landing page, the in person experience. Um, are branding within gradual, um, from start to finish it's it's consistent and it's curated. And I think people notice that as well in a lot of our, our promotion. Um, the second point I wanted to make is, um, kind of the network effect. So I know a lot of people on this call work for, you know, mid-size or larger startups, but we, we lean on our team.

So we have a team of about, um, Almost 700 at scale. And we put a call to action out to our engineers. Our sales team, like lean into your networks, lean into your alumni programs. Um, so many of these are kind of micro infl. So many of our, our engineers especially are like micro influencers in their own.

Right. And have really been instrumental in kind of engaging their communities to be a part of AI exchange, um, and bringing folks, uh, in

Kyle Sutton: the door as. Yeah, that I I'm thinking about some of the folks that I know that have brought people in or the, uh, the, uh, very. Loyal following that even some of the scale engineers have of like, oh, I'm going to that event.

Cuz that, that person's been there. I want to ask maybe one or two more questions, dig into some of the nitty gritty day of what's it look like in the war room and then do want a save time for us to be able to jump into, to breakout rooms. So folks can, can chat with one another and answer some questions that, that have come up in the, uh, in the chat as well.

But what. what does it look like behind the scenes? It sounds like from everything you all have a small army, uh, that runs, runs all this stuff, but, uh, maybe Rebecca what's. What are you thinking through on, on how we're planning for staffing, chat, moderation, all that, all that fun

Rebecca Woerner: stuff. I mean, I'd say my most important thing is organization.

Like if you are not organized in this process, It's it becomes untenable, um, to Kyle your point too, like it's, it's not just Marcel. Um, and I, and Mara, our, our field marketing and events manager working on this, like it, it really takes a village. So we have a growth marketing team helping with promotion, our product marketing team, helping with content, our executives, helping to source speakers.

We lean into. Our engineering team for, um, content part partnership, um, speaker outreach. We rely on our go to market team to help, um, curate their network and get invites out. So, uh, across the team, Internally, we're working with a huge group to make this happen. And then externally as well, we're working with, um, contractors, a production team, um, to bring this whole experience to life as well.

Um, we also try to give ourselves, um, a lot of runway for this event. So it was pretty short for the first transform, as Marcel said, I think 60 days for transform X in October. It was short, but a little bit longer than the first time. And then we started planning for this October's event, um, in November of, of 2021.

So, you know, making sure you have, uh, the, the first thing Marcel and I do is draft a proposal, um, and circulate that to the executive team for buy-in and then, um, the rest of the stakeholders at large. So everyone is really on board with, with the plans we have. Um, and then from there it's really. Kind of delegating these roles and responsibility.

I think keeping really kind of strict and stringent timelines and then having goals outlined, um, within those, uh, to Marcel's point on promotion, like we don't wanna exhaust our database. We have to be very intentional about the email sends and the promotion we're doing. Um, so not having all of those items mapped out can make this process.

Very tricky. Um, and I don't wanna board people with the micro details, happy to chat through that offline and something that Marcel and I have been wanting to work on is, um, getting a, a playbook in place that, that we can share with other event and community leaders. Um, but I'd say if I had to offer one piece of advice, it is, is truly just being organized and, and remaining organized for that process.

So you do not lose sight of, of the details.

Marcel Santilli: Yeah. And one, one thing I would add too, is like trying to find opportunities to just snowball things, right? You don't need to get a hundred speakers. You might wanna go and try to get the three that then will make the fourth and fifth one easier. And then once you do that, you go after the next one, right?

Like go after your fourth shore channels on promotion and tackle that go find help. Like in the first transform, I, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never used any platforms or. You know, I just went LinkedIn and started hitting up a bunch of people that had, you know, video and events, producers, you know, and had experience.

And, you know, luckily all of you're here, you can ask Kyle, he probably has a huge network and , or can at least point you in the right direction. But, um, and, and then we found someone, I was like, please help me. Here you go. You know, and I had a, a video guy that's been amazing to work with and he's been. Uh, I save our lives pretty much on all things video and, and trying to up the production value.

Well, all those things were pretty like reasonable and, and, and also just to encourage other folks here that are thinking about it too, you know, there's a company I work with that, that I recommended them doing a, a virtual event to start with and they had never done it and they pull it off, I think in 90 days and had something like 4,000 people register, which for them was the biggest thing they ever done and got a ton of pipeline out of.

Um, and, and so I think there's plenty of examples of, of that happening, but then there's also a ton of examples of where you could start small. You know, our strategy was really go really big, so you can, we can grow the community as part of this event and then like try to engage the, the community after that.

But there's also plenty, I think of examples of starting small, like this and, and just building really high quality. Uh, you know, set of folks that are, have common interest and then kind of building from there organically. And that's perfectly fine as well, you know?

Kyle Sutton: Yeah. I think starting with the core group, every community manager on this call would probably say, yeah, a core engaged group is gonna be the, the seed that grows the, the rest of that, that community.

I want to make sure we have time to do some breakout discussions and for folks to chat with one another. If anyone has any burning questions, though, I did promise a Q and a wanna wanna honor my word, throw those in the chat. I think there were some that came up and I know Marcel and Rebecca are gonna gonna try to jump into our breakouts as well.

And maybe able to answer some questions in there. I think Megan had asked about the community size that 32,000 is the community size on gradual today. Um, And that's the AI exchange community. There's still you talk Marcel about there's other people or Rebecca that you could certainly pester on the email list, but that's the, the core community group

Rebecca Woerner: that's right.

And that is different from our overall database within scale. So I'd say this is a more curated group. Um, so. We have had folks that have come over from, from that database. And then we've also had net new as well. Um, but that, that continues to grow month over month, um, as we continue to expand our programming

Kyle Sutton: too.

Yeah. That makes, that makes sense. Yeah, you all have pretty steady, steady uptick and engagement and no small part. Thanks to all the work that Natalie does for, um, for your community events and things. Well, I'm gonna open up or I'll ask Laura from our team to open up breakout rooms here in a second. And the purpose of this is to not just have it be the, although it's been a wonderful Marcel and Rebecca show.

Um, but for, for all view, as community events, marketing, Leaders to be able to share insights with one another. So I'm gonna start us off with just a prompt question that I'd love for you to share with one another in your breakout rooms. What has been the biggest challenge or lesson learned when it comes to your own events in the last 12 months, what's been the biggest challenge or lesson learned in the last 12 months for your, your own events.

Uh, Marcel. I see your pensive face. So if you have one to offer, uh, to get us kicked off, I will certainly welcome it, but don't wanna put you on the spot.

Marcel Santilli: Um, I'm seeing the, the trigger to join. Should I say later or join? Nope.

Kyle Sutton: You, you can definitely join. Those rooms are open. Everybody goes, join those breakout rooms and we will we'll discuss in there.

I was just saying, thank you so much for, for being here, Marcel and Rebecca, especially cuz you are in the thick. Yeah, and I we're very, very grateful before we drop off anybody have any aha moments, takeaways, nuggets of insights that you're leaving with from, from today that you wanna put on, put on a pedestal for the rest of the group.

Rebecca Woerner: I had some learnings. It was really exciting to hear like the other programs people are working on and the initiatives they're looking to get jump started. So I loved being able to chat with other community leaders, um, and marketers about that. And. I did wanna say like, Kyle, thank you so much for hosting us.

And if anyone, um, would like to continue the conversation, um, please feel free to, to reach out to our team. We're we're happy to chat or answer, um, questions we can connect within the gradual community as well. You can,

Kyle Sutton: you can, you can this one, another, our chat history will show up in your message.

Anybody else have any takeaways from the conversation today? Thank you.

DeMario Bell: Really quickly Kyle group. I'll just share this in 26 seconds. There's something to be said about it. Won't kick us

Kyle Sutton: out. You're good. OK, great. you're good. I thought this zoom. No, you'll get a notification. Be like, okay, the time's over and then you, we just hang out forever.

Yeah, you're good. I appreciate that.

DeMario Bell: Um, there's something to be said. I wanna pick piggyback off Rebecca. I love coming together with other community managers to talk about the same problems we're trying to solve. And I think there's community building in. Because you don't feel like you're gaslighting yourself.

Like, am I driving myself crazy thinking about this or going in circles? So when, when I'm able to come together and say, oh, you're trying to solve that as well. Like how can we amplify each other? I just love being able to be in spaces like this. So thank you for letting me build community

Kyle Sutton: with y'all. I love it.

It's very meta tomorrow. Thank. Well, thank you all again. I wanna be respectful of your time. Thank you, Marcel. And Rebecca, thank you so much for joining us. This won't be the last one of these. We do. You can find the recording after this as well. If you want to dig into any other nuggets, but thank you all for coming.

We'll be all hang around in the gradual team. If you have any follow up questions, but thanks for being here. Take care,

Rebecca Woerner: everybody, everyone. Thanks.

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