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Event Planning Principles

Last modified 9/14/10

DukeGEN Event Principles
Events must
1) Be predominantly focused on involving Duke's entrepreneurial community (alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents), with some room for invited guests.
2) Be financially self-sustaining (breakeven, covered by sponsors, or covered by another source)
3) Be focused on entrepreneurship
4) Be high quality events (as measured by the Feedback surveys sent by DukeGEN co-chairs to the participants)
5) Should be spaced a month away from any multi-city or major event (Angel Pitch, etc...) DukeGEN is hosting, to limit marketing fatigue.
6) Not be created to financially benefit the organizers in a direct way (e.g. through consulting client leads, organizing fees, etc...)

Process: How do events get approved?
1) DukeGEN-led event: If a co-chair or one of our past event planners commits to the event, and assuming they did a good job with their past events, then DukeGEN can take it on, assuming they will be responsible for the entire event (planning, marketing, budget, running)
-Matt Koidin did a phenomenal job with the DukeGEN Angel Pitch Event, so he has more equity
-Matthew Yung is our Director of Events, and he has more equity
-A multi-city event planner has done a good job with a couple of events, and has demonstrated self-sufficiency, etc...

2) DukeGEN-hosted event: If it's not someone we've worked with in the past, and they want to use the DukeGEN name, then we have a higher hurdle.  
a) They need to come up with a plan and submit it to our Event Planning Committee (to be formed, at this point it's the Co-chairs).  Internally we tend to start planning and executing at least 3 months before the event, so the plan should be in before that to work it's way through the committee.
b) They need some event planning experience (past examples).  Best is if they've planned a similar event before.
c) Need to make sure no conflict of interest (they can't make money from it, e.g. have it support their own consulting activities)
d) Does not express extreme opinions on sensitive matters (e.g. certain aspects of religion, politics, etc...)
e) We need some sort of reference check that the organizer will do a good job.
f) There needs to be a co-chair that is responsible for the event and on regular calls, providing updates to the other co-chairs. (This ties it into the bandwidth of the co-chairs.  In the future one of our main goals is to increase this bandwidth either with more co-chairs or with an expanded executive committee that can take on these roles)
g) Would need to meet all of our Event Principles above

3) DukeGEN-marketing only event: If it's not someone we've worked with in the past, and they just want to market it through DukeGEN
a) Generally we avoid this.  We are not trying to become the information aggregator of events.  Also, we try to avoid fatiguing our marketing lists.
E.g. We're not in the business of posting about TechCrunch, DEMO, Cornell Silicon Valley events, etc.  While it's true that Duke alumni may benefit from knowing about those events, our purpose (and the reason Duke alumni sign up) is not to be the information aggregator.  If they want that, they can get the StartupDigest or similar.
b) If the marketing is for a Duke-related event, then we may add a marketing blurb to existing marketing emails already going out, but will avoid sending a marketing piece targeted at this event. The Duke Alumni clubs are more equipped to handle general marketing of Duke-related events. 
c) Would need to meet all of our Event Principles above

4) It is possible that at some point we may setup semi-independent "local chapters" that may be able to act and host events on their own (and maintain their own email lists).  But that infrastructure is not in place yet.  We are trying to translate lessons from the MIT Enterprise Forum and TiE to come up with a reasonable model here which is sustainable and doesn't overtly compete with the main DukeGEN events.