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Create a interdisciplinary space for groups with common challenges to surface and solve them.

Use When

A group of 30-150 people are assembling, with different background but overlapping goals or working contexts.


Source Summit is a peer learning environment that connects people from a range of backgrounds to find better solutions to their current challenges.

It's an open, interactive, multi-track event – which connects people who actually do to other doers in related areas of practice.

Source Summits have the feel of bustling conferences, with parallel rooms and fast, 30-minute sessions on different topics. The difference is that no speakers are scheduled in advance. Instead, the participants choose the topics and literally set the agenda themselves based on their goals and the available experience in attendance.

Sessions focus on sharing first-hand experience or on practical, hand-on co-creation. Sometimes session start with a short talk, but move into workshops or other interactive formats.

This difference has some advantages:

  1. It helps people where they need help now. The topics are way more relevant than a conference.
  2. It brings different communities together to reveal new and unique approaches.
  3. It creates strong and useful local relationships, the bedrock of a new community.
  4. It gives rise to local thought leadership, and in doing so, creates recognition for smaller communities on a global stage.


Source Summit is based heavily on Open Space Technology, Barcamp and Leancamp but adds more scaffolding to assist participants to focus on practical and actionable outcomes.


  1. Get 2-3 local organisers involved. Ideally, someone who's seen an open space before. You don't need a bigger team, yet.
  2. Start building the email list as it'll make our lives much easier once the venue is confirmed and we need to sell the first tickets. 1j. Get an idea of necessary ticket prices and volumes to break even. You’ll plan out 2 more budgets, the "relax" point where we'll no longer need to hustle to sell tickets, and the maximum size, when we can add a lot of extras to make a better event.
  3. Find a venue. Make requests to all possible Venue Partners at once. (We'll cover strategies and email templates later.)
  4. Start reaching out to invite local community leaders to be Source Summit Ambassadors.
  5. Once a date is set, announce the event and release Fast Mover tickets.
  6. Start a forum or only listing where people can suggest session topics for others to see.
  7. One month before the event, assess your break-even position and make a go or no go decision.
  8. After Fast Mover tickets are sold, we look at who's attending and consider balancing the event out.
  9. The event itself is quite easy to run. You'll need a team of 6 volunteers, and can usually get them through a local university. There's be a bit of preparation the week before for catering, and the day before for the venue. All of that is easy - just follow the checklists.

How Summits are NOT conferences

We’re about knowledge-sharing - inclusive to all.

We want to learn from each other. We want to seed a culture of sharing experiences, being open and humble about what doesn't work, and of seeking to learn from other communities rather than create cliques and exclusivity.
Source Summit played a big role in connecting entrepreneurship to user experience design, and Lean Startup to Business Model Generation.

We want to continue this tradition of connecting communities.

We highly value local and practical knowledge.

Connecting to others actually doing this stuff is hugely valuable. It's the doers who push the state of the art, and they're right at home. External people add to this, help build excitement, and create international relationships into your city, but the real value is in engaging the local community in a new way.

No sponsors.

Source Summit is for us, by us.

We stay focused on that by keeping costs down and paying our own way.

We’ve tried sponsorship in many formats in the past, and while, at first or in tough times, it feels like an easy win, in every case it has come back as an extra distraction to manage when we really needed to focus on the core event.

If people approach us to sponsor, that’s great! We can use their help. Check the FAQ for ways they can contribute.

Every other type of sponsorship is effectively selling our audience which contravenes the ethos of for us by us.

The only exceptions to this is when Source Summit is run by an existing local organisation that already has pre-existing relationships with their sponsors - like a bigger conference that hosts Source Summit. This means that there is no work in getting sponsors, or in managing sponsor expectations for the Source Summit team. The sponsorship money is provided by the parent organisation.

Our customers are our participants, not corporate sponsors.

Nobody gets paid.

Not even if you wrote a book! :)

This keeps things real and simple. With money off the table, we’re all aligned in a common community goal. Help people with their startups.

People first.

People are our core, measurable unit. Not startups or methodologies or investment rounds or content.

Our goal is to help people improve and achieve their goals, and help them find others who will help them on their journey. Thus, Source Summit puts a strong emphasis on people over everything else.
You won't see organisation logos all over Source Summit, instead we'll raise the profile of the people in those organisations who want to contribute. They are the champions that deserve to be heard, and people will only respect their organisations as a side-effect of respecting them.

You also won't see people rallying around a certain approach. Instead, you see leaders describing where they're at now, and discussing what to improve.

You will likely see people with books to sell, or some equivalent! But the emphasis is on the author, not their product, and Source Summit gives them the freedom to make further contributions unconstrained by their previous publications. For example, Brant Cooper and Alex Osterwalder put on workshops at Source Summit that were new and experimental.

So even though we'll attract Lean, Agile and Design leaders, the tone of conversation we need to create is more realistic than dogmatic.

We keep it real at Source Summit.

No room for egos.

Just like sponsors can't buy their way in but are welcome to contribute, nobody gets to "keynote" or gets preferential treatment. Everybody suggests their sessions together and the participants retain the option of voting with their feet.

On top of that, this frees us to work on an awesome event, rather than devote extra attention to specific people.

That said, recognized contributors should be promoted on the events page, and as with anyone else, we should help advise them about what the should do or what topics they should cover.

We can also offer to waive their ticket fee and possibly to pay for their flights if we can afford it. Many contributors are happy to buy their own flight, and take the risk of being reimbursed if we make the ticket sales.

Your Role As An Organiser

At most conferences, the role of the organiser is to choose speakers and talks, and to sell sponsorship and tickets. Source Summit is different.

Rather than curate a conference, you'll be curating communities, building an intersection of topics by liaising with other community leaders, and encourage local practitioners to share their experiences.

Your main responsibility isn't to make a big event that makes money, it's to create a balanced event that fosters sharing and peer support.

Where to focus to succeed.

Our satisfaction scores plateau at 60 people. After that, making the event bigger will not make it better!

Again because it's important - a great Source Summit is around 60 to 100 people. Bigger is not better!

The size of the event will take care of itself over time. Engage the right balance of communities, and your Source Summit will grow on it's own. Don't worry if the first Source Summit is small. If the people there benefit, word will spread. You'll create demand; next time will be so much easier.

So don’t stretch yourself to hit bigger numbers! Save your energy.

Keeping Balance

Balance is the key as you grow Source Summit.

We want Source Summit to be a place where people learn new things, and meet people they don't normally meet in their regular lives. This leads to the best feedback from Source Summit participants: "I met so many helpful people who I'd never meet anywhere else - and they're going to help me do X!" This helps strengthen all the communities involved.

If one particular community dominates Source Summit, our event will suffer. It will be hard to encourage an inclusive culture and hard to leave a legacy of spotting emerging local talent.

We also want to make sure there are multiple "cliques" so one group doesn't dominate.

Another rule of thumb is that we want 90%+ active doers. Focus on makers, creators, builders and people with "skin in the game" and their own projects. (Particularly, try to avoid attracting professional consultants, as they tend to take over sessions by asserting authority beyond their actual experience, which drives satisfaction scores down for everyone else.)

The mechanics of ticket releases

We watch who's bought tickets, looking at - the discount code they used (since each ambassador gets a unique code) - how the ticket buer describes themself: Founder? UXer? Consultant? etc. - their learning goals

Based on this, we know how we're tracking with balance, so we know who we want to invite more of. If a group is under-represented, we keep public tickets closed, but release special access codes for certain ambassadors to release publicly. (So, if we need more UXers or more people from Startup Group X, we give access codes to those ambassadors.) For a short period, say 2-3 days, they are the only ones who can buy tickets. These codes are usually for the cheapest Fast Mover price, even if that deadline has expired.

A useful trick is to set a discount code for unlimited uses and no deadline, but announce them as only 5 tickets available so people act with urgency. (We’d probably extend the code anyways, so this just saves us the trouble. We can shut down the code whever we want if we have to.)

Seeding sessions

We want everyone to learn something immediately useful and applicable at Source Summit.

The magic of Source Summit happens at the beginning of the day, when the community bubbles up and loads of people offer to run sessions. There has never been a Source Summit where the session board wasn't full - though when we start, there are lulls.)

Like most magic tricks, there's a certain preparation underlying it.

We seed (eg. preplan) around 30% of the available sessions. We don't announce this though - it's more a personal connection with a few of the seed speakers, asking them to be prepared to step up first. This gets the momentum going for others to propose sessions while also making sure the event is good.

We ask everyone who bought a ticket what they want to learn on the ticket purchase page in Eventbrite. Also add the Ambassadors suggestions to this. Now we have an idea of what sessions we need to seed even though they appear to be regular sessions in the open space planning.

You don't need to know exact topics, but a short brainstorm on a few broad spaces is enough. In addition to topics, ask each Ambassador who in their community has a story or expertise to share that might be interesting to the Source Summit participants.

This is a great discussion to involve some Source Summit Leaders. Their experience will mean they ask you good questions and make good suggestions.

Tip: Go for some "interesting" outliers. These may not be well-attended, but often lead to more engaged and informal discussions about practical applications. New tools and techniques are seeded here.

Seeded sessions

A rule of thumb is to "seed" or pre-plan a few good session topics, ideally covering about 1/3rd of the available session slots.

The idea of "a speaker" doesn't exist at Source Summit. Speakers don't prepare talks and aren't chosen on their oratory skills.

Choose people based on their experience and how it can be useful to the immediate goals of specific Summit participants.

We ask them to think of 2 or 3 personal stories they can tell that would be useful to others. We'll let the audience chose on the day, and the stories should be to be no more than 5 minutes long. The real value in the session will come from the 20 minutes discussion that emerges.

Start by asking different communities about their internal role models with interesting and unique experiences to share.

Big names

Announcing better-regnised names as speakers has a negative effect - it will attract people who just want to sit and listen, rather than participate. This is the opposite of the early adopters we want - the people actually in-the-know enough to recognise the value in the community and the smaller names.

Since Source Summit is good because it's peer to peer, it's those early adopters we need first. They have something to share too.

So hold off on announcing the bigger names until later, when we have a good balance and a majority of eager contributors. (See MVP.)


Diversity is extremely important to create a truely powerful and notable Source Summit. This stems from the principle that learning from people in different contexts gives us a broader perspective.

To get diversity right, you need to start off by announcing speakers from all of the edge groups you want to be represented: - small communities of practice - gender - ethinicity

By presenting a truely diverse set of speakers from the beginning, you'll be communicating welcomeness and inclusiveness to all, and plant the seeds of the Source Summit brand - as the place to learn from the most diverse sources.

It's okay if the speaker lineup becomes doesn't become more diverse later. The important thing is start as diverse as possible - it makes sure everyone feels welcome and able to contribute.

For more on this and why it's necessary, see Keeping Balance below.

Showtime! How the day runs

The organising team arrives 2 hours before the start, normally at 8am and starts setup.


Volunteers are empowered to fix whatever needs fixing. Organisers run around to keep things on schedule, and can dip in to interesting sessions.

By 9am, breakfast is being served and people are trickling in.

The session planning starts at 10am. Sessions run throughout the day, with ample breaks for people to mingle and deepen their connections with each other.

By 11am the sessions start, 30 minutes each with a 10-minute break in between. We schedule in lots of breaks, since the miggling time is really important for people to catch up with each other on things that were important to them but went by too quickly in the fast-paced sessions. Usually the schedule is timed like this:

10am Planning Session 11am Session 1 11:40am Session 2 12:20pm Session 3 12:50 Lunch 2pm Session 4 2:40pm Session 5 3:10 Coffee Break 3:50 Session 6 4:30 Session 7 5:10 Wrap up

The day ends with everyone wrapping up in the same room. A show of hands of who learned something they CAN apply next week. Another for those who WILL apply it next week. Feedback forms are handed out, and asked to be completed on the spot. While that happens, people are invited to stand up and quickly share something useful they learned.

Applause. Everyone is directed to the pub!

The volunteers and team gathers for a 10-minute retrospective. Somebody takes notes for the other Source Summit Leaders. We clean up quickly, and join everyone else at the pub.

Session Planning

There's also a standard 10 minute talk to set the right tone. Don't deviate from the deck that Sal made! Setting expectations, responsibiitiesn and principles within the community is important to make the day work.

Then onto session planning -

Session planning is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. If you haven’t seen it done before, get an experienced Source Summit Leader to take that role. It’s very important to get right as it sets the tone for the day.

If you’ve seen it done and you’d like to give it try yourself, here are some tips:

. It’s all about energy and excitement. You need to exude happiness and interest in all the potential of the day. You need to be contagious!!! . There’s an intro deck covering the planning method and Source Summit ethos. Do this fast, in less than 10 minutes, so you can get to the high-energy part of having everyone on stage. . Embrace the messiness of the process. . Remember to get people to write their name and social media contact on their card. . At the beginning, people will get their cards wrong. That’s okay. Stop and help fix them on stage so everyone learns. . Be transparent. Do what you need to on stage, on mic. Expose the inner workings of the event. People will better understand it and contribute to it. . Keep people being punchy. Urge them to finish up after 30 seconds. Cut them off after 60 by stepping in and summarising their session idea. . Suggest fun and punchy session topics. People are bad at writing their own headlines. Summarise each of their explanations with a punchy topic they can write on their card. If you’re not sure your title is correct, ask them. . If the board isn't full at the end of the morning planning session, that's fine. Just try to reschedule the existing sessions to be more heavily-weighted in the morning, and then tell everyone to come back for another short planning session after lunch. . Adjust the schedule as you go. If you move any card, make sure you get the approval of that session’s host. . Encourage cross-over. “Oh, you two could host a discussion on X. Up for it?”

Volunteer and logistics management

It's best to recruit a local student group, ideally an entrepreneurship club, who has already worked together. As organisers, you can then delegate most of the day’s logistics to the leader of the student group, who will already know everyone's strengths and will be better at delegation and management.

Meet with their leader in advance to talk through the appropriate checklists with them, and work with them as a pair on the preparation on the day.

Measuring Success Overall

We measure success in a few ways:

. Firstly, we have a standard feedback form which includes the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS isn't actually useful by itself since the responses are highly skewed in different cultures, but it will give you a sense of if you're improving over time. . If we run experiments with our format, we identify people who have been affected by them in the feedback form, and compare them to people who haven’t. This gives us an idea of if the experiment actually made the event more valuable to people overall. . We look for sessions that were popular, either in buzz, Twitter chatter or common in the final “what did you learn” session. This shows we’ve spotted a local leader - and a seed speaker for the master list. . At the end of Source Summit, we do a show of hands to see how many people learned something helpful for an active problem that they can apply next week. We usually hit 95%+. . We’ve started to ask if anyone made a new connection that can help with a current problem. This will be a more important measurement as Source Summit grows. . We look through the feedback forms and tally keywords/topics that were mentioned. So what were the most common complaints and suggestions? Also we tally everyone who was a "top contribbutor" The top 3 get added to the master seed speaker trello board.


. For your events page, use the Source Summit site. It has integrations to our social media and other benefits that will save you a lot of duplicate effort. . For ticket sales, use our Eventbrite account. We have integrations and automated emails that will save a lot of trouble. Use them! They've been tweaked over time to avoid problems! . We're also setting up Mailchimp with email automations. . We have moved from Uservoice to Hackpad for online session discussions. Copy and paste the template into a Hackpad page for your event.


Location selection

We typically look for: . The venue is operated by people who already support startups and/or innovation. . Overall venue capacity, 60-200+ depending on our goal . One large room for everyone, either auditorium seating or open-plan. At 60 people, we can get by with common space if they're happy with the noise. Beyond 80, we need an auditorium for everyone. . For every 40 people, a sound-isolated room with capacity for 30-40 people. Session rooms ideally are cabaret style or movable chairs and tables. . Extra smaller session rooms, 5-15 people are also a good idea, especially if the event is over 100 people. . A central, common space to post the day's schedule. This will become the hub of the event, so needs to be in an area that can stand 50-60 people around it. . Wifi that will hold up for techies with multiple devices. . A/V capabilities in most rooms, including projectors and audio. . Accessible by public transit.

If any of these are not doable, there are budget implications, so go redo the budgets!

First ticket release

. event page created and tested w/ first speakers and all ambassadors . announced on Twitter . announced to email lists . announced to Source Summit Leaders . announced to Ambassadors . post to plancast . post to lanyrd . post to f6s . submit to startup digest . submit to local lean startup meetup (announce it as a meetup event if possible, for higher conversion)

(take from old Lean events in London guide)

Seeding Sessions (4-2 weeks before)

. About 30% of the sessions slots covered by people who know have prepped sessions, you'll likely have a full board. . A handful of "Intro" sessions. (It's usually best to ask some of the Source Summit Leaders attending if they can cover the intro sessions, and ask them to try to schedule them at the beginning of the day. ) . A handful of more advanced sessions. . A session on experiments. . A session on UX . A session on Customer Development . A session on metrics. . A session on a real MVP. . At least 1 session from each of the Ambassador communities present.

Creating the schedule for the day (2 weeks before)

  • Late start so people have 30-60 minutes to arrive and have coffee/breakfast before the planning session starts.
  • One hour planning session to start the day.
  • One hour for lunch, so people can mingle.
  • At least 2-3 session timeslots before lunch so people have a sense of who they want to talk to at lunch.
  • Never more than 3-4 sessions in a row without a coffee break. (So people keep their energy up and can make better personal connections.)
  • Sessions are 30 minutes.
  • 10 minute gaps between sessions to allow people time to go to the board and decide what’s next.
  • Final session slot for everyone to regroup in the same room.
  • Know what pub to send everyone to afterwards!

Supplies to order (2-3 weeks before)

(Always err on the side of over-ordering!)

Catering order

Getting catering outsourced allows us to focus on the event itself. Opt for higher-quality food and aim for a €25/person budget.

  • Unlimited coffee all day
  • Catering staff present for setup and serving (though we can augment serving staff with volunteers to save costs)
  • Vegetarian and vegan options
  • Coffee, tea, juice and continental breakfast
  • Several food options at lunch (better than pizza)
  • Snacks at the afternoon break, including juice
  • Optional beer starting in the afternoon (budget permitting)

Day before (on-site)

  • Access to laser printer
  • Access to cloakroom/ luggage room
  • Access to secure overnight storage for equipment room temperature control
  • extra bin bags
  • phone number for security
  • phone number for catering
  • phone number for building maintenance
  • phone number for wifi support
  • Check wifi works
  • Floorplans printed

Source Summit Day Checklists

*dapt times and number of people needed for each Source Summit.

Needed skills:

. Audio/Video Recording and Management . Photography . Twitter . Lanyrd


Please arrive at 8am where we will have a detailed debrief but in the meantime you can see a summary of responsibilities below:

Tip: Assign and do the tasks in the order that the customer interacts with Source Summit. So, start with the signs outside, then setup registration, then the main room, then the other rooms. (This will keep everything low stress, and allow us leeway if we're running late.)

Arrival [All]

8am for brief. (2 hours before event starts.) In attendance: . Organisers . Advisor . Any Source Summit Leaders attending . Volunteer Team

One Organiser and the head of the volunteer team take the lead. Source Summit Leaders are asked to jump in whenever helpful. Start by thanking everyone, explaining the overall goal of the day, what they are contributing towards and empowering them to make decisions and act in a way to improve things.

After explaining all the different roles, and how the day should play out, allocate responsibilities so each student will have at least half a day free to participate in Source Summit sessions.

Pre-event roles

Camera setup 2 people (45 minutes) Setup tripods and cameras in each room: * recording in 720p. * 7 hours or recording time on card * Well-positioned for unobstructed view (usually to the side of the stage.) * Within 2-3 metres of speaker so sound is clear * Somewhere that nobody will block the line of site * Plugged-in and have power! * Start recording now!

Registration 2 people

Checking tickets on entry, posting up ‘Getting The most out of Source Summit’ &, Session format posters in each session room. Maps & directions posted up in hallways, stairs, etc.. and any information posters everywhere. Answering any questions attendees have.

Signs 1-2 people (2 hours)

Certain signs will need to be placed near the building to help people find Source Summit. Put up signs in the order that people arrive.

There are pre-printed signs. The ones with Source Summit logos are there for you to draw arrows on. Get a felt marker for this.

  • Start in the parking lot and/or local transit point, then put up signs towards the building, then into the entrance and towards the registration.
  • Put up a sign at registration to inform people we’re recording.
  • Put up signs to point people to the main room from registration.
  • Put up signs to point people to each session room, and the cafe/food area, from the location of session board.
  • Draw a map of each room and photocopy it. Put one in front of each session room and a few near the session board.
  • Also, place do not enter signs on perimeter doors to prevent people wandering around the building or getting lost. “Pivot here!” :)

Catering co-ordinator - 1 head organiser

This should be handled by the person who organised the catering and knows the caterer. They are responsible for making sure the caterer is on time, has what they need, including volunteers to help serve, and that they stick around all day to keep the coffee pouring!

Schedule Board Setup - 1 person

The schedule board will be a physical grid on a movable structure. Or preprint the schedule grid on A0 sheets. Then, this is just a matter of tacking them to a wall.

. Session times going horizontally on top . Make sure to include columns for the planning session, breaks, lunch and the final session. . Session room names going vertically down the left. . Include the resources (projector, audio, etc.) . Include the room capacity . Include the room layout (lecture, cabaret, etc.)

At the scheduling session at 10am:

Get a Source Summit Leader to redirect the event page to the Lanyrd page. Update the schedule on (example for Dublin: ) for each session as they are planned. We will redirect page to our Lanyrd page when the event starts. Check the board throughout the day for changes, and update Lanyrd.

Breakfast service 2 people

We will have coffee and food delivered. We need 2 people to take charge of setting this up so the participants can eat when they arrive!

During Event

Time-warnings - 1 organiser in the morning, the other afternoon

5-minute warnings can be done by the head organisers - allows them to see everything and double-check cameras. It also gives the organisers visibility and authority during the event.

Tip Make sure this is done assertively by someone who has had the stage in the planning session or intro. The authority is necessary - people often ignore volunteers who try to call time, but not the organisers.

5 minutes before the end of each session, quickly pop into each session room and announce "5 minutes left." Interrupt the speaker mid-sentence, it's okay. You need to move quickly to cover all the session rooms.

When time's up, do the same again. Poke your head in and firmly announce time is up.

Decide now who will do this in the morning, and who will do it in the afternoon.

Room stewards - 1 person per 2-3 rooms

Between sessions, if sessions get too big for their room, send someone from the session to find a room to trade with. If you need to, you can feel free to ask one of the participants to help, so that you don’t need to abandon your current task/role. (A/V people for example.)

. Ensure that sessions start on time. If the last session is running more than 5 minutes over time, take over the stage and ask everyone who wants to continue to do so in a common area like the cafe. . If you see a room is getting too busy, try to swap them with another bigger room that’s under capacity. . Help the session host if they need help with the projector or audio. . Make sure the cameras are always recording and aimed the right way. Check every session. . Anything else that’s wrong, you are hereby authorized to step up and fix it!

Twitter 1 person

Tweeting on the Source Summit account. We want the @leancamp account to be the single source for all the Source Summit stuff happening on Twitter. Retweet ANY interesting updates on the #leancamp hashtag. (Watch out for spammers though - we’ll likely be trending!)

Updates, room changes, retweeting others on the #leancamp hashtag, answering questions.

Photographer 1 person

Action pictures and people are great. Also, please try to capture as many whiteboards and flipcharts and notes over peoples shoulder (with permission!) as possible, especially during sessions in case people want to take their stuff with them. After the event, somebody should collate and make a book out of it all. If you can, post live using tag #leancamp on Twitter and Flickr. PLEASE remember to take your cards to Central Video so they can be uploaded to our master hard drive.

Also, try to collect and save as much “collateral” as possible. All the paper and stuff that people write on should be collected so we can review or even make a book out of it too.

During Lunch

Catering 2 people

The catering people may need some extra help serving here.

Handy Templates

Ambassador Invite

The first Source Summit [City] is on [date] and we need your help, both in guidance and in getting the word out. I think there's some potential in sharing how Lean Startup could benefit _ and how we could apply __ in startups. Would you have a moment to discuss this potential?

If it’s promising to you, we’d like to invite you to be a Source Summit Ambassador, to help get the word out and help us tailor the event for your community. (Not to mention discount codes!)

Source Summit is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary knowledge-sharing event loosely centered around Lean, Agile and Design-led businesses. It's endorsed by loads of friendly, famous startup types like Eric Ries, Alex Osterwalder, and John Mullins.

We bring in businesses actually applying these approaches, so we share practical insights about what works and doesn't. A wider range of perspectives really helps everyone learn more and progress faster.

Being an Ambassador is easy - helping get the word out on your blog/twitter/meetup group and discussing good topics so we can find the best knowledge-sharing opportunities.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Up for discussing this an afternoon/evening this week?

Host Invite

Hi _ I'm helping bring Source Summit here to [city ]_ and thought __ would be an ideal hosting partner.

Source Summit's the birthplace of some significant entrepreneurial practices, and been a positive force is galvanising startup communities around the world. It's a non-profit event supported by many thought-leaders, like Eric Ries, Alex Osterwalder, John Mullins, Brant Cooper, David Heinemeier Hansson and partners like University College London, General Assembly and The Next Web Conference. ______ has a similar ethos, so might have the same benefits of hosting Source Summit.

Since we need to move fast, we're currently reaching out to [ other hosts _], & ____ as well.

It would be great if we could speak to see if this is a good fit for you, and how we could benefit your students and network. I'm at _ if you'd like to speak.



How do we bring high-profile leaders to our city?

Don't worry about the higher-profile contributors and speakers directly. Taking care that the existing local and regional contributors are meeting others with similar value and experience will create strong bonds into your community. The big names will hear about this through their trusted network (including many of the Source Summit Leaders) and then will be more inclined to come next time. Why? Because they want to give back, but they want to give back to local leaders who can multiply their value, and since they're so busy, they go where you can promise to introduce them to people they want in their network.

What about sponsors?

Source Summit is for us by us. One of our biggest steps in an effort to make organising easier was to simply say no to sponsorship money. This revealed a better alternative - that if sponsors wanted to actually contribute rather than simply buying access to our audience, they would still help out! Our no sponsor policy not only helped reduce our workloads, it acted as a natural filter to select genuinely aligned people and organisations to take part.

A few examples of how would-be sponsors can help instead:

. Buy tickets! If we're not hitting our sales targets, organisations can buy tickets to give away. . Send their talented people to share and run sessions. Turn them into ambassadors and they get the benefit of sponsoring without the cost! . Promote us! By becoming ambassadors and promoting us, they get the association in a more genuine way.

Can my organisation get credit if they aren't hosting?

Like with sponsors, the best way for any organisation to benefit from Source Summit is through it's people. We encourage people to represent their organisations, so as Organisers, you're welcome to bang your own drum! Source Summit is also up for cross-proomotion.

However, we need to stay consistent to the values that brought us here, so as organisers, we are emphasising our relationship with you as people first. Opening the door to more logos or bending the rules in other ways can have a negative effect - both in alienating others in the local community who might want to contribute, and also costing time by managing expectations of would-be sponsors.

The same is true for you as it is with others who want to sponsor. The best way to gain exposure and good-will for your organisation is to lead as individuals, and point to your organisation in your Source Summit website profiles, sessions and verbally when you're on stage.

Should we partner with conferences?

Conferences are great hosts for Source Summit. We've done deals with TNW Conference and Pirate Summit where they offered to cover our downside risk by covering our costs if we didn't hit enough ticket sales. In exchange, they could send everyone in their conference to Source Summit for free.

This works quite well because: . We can hit 60 participants quite easily, which is a solid number for satisfaction scores. . We don't have to worry about a lot of the venue logistics. . We can invite their speakers to be participants and ambassadors. . We can offer a much lower ticket prices for people who aren't attending the conference.

What about people who sell stuff?

Source Summit is about entrepreneurship, so if people are trying to make money, that's great! Source Summit is a great channel for selling information products, workshops or other general forms of community engagement. Often, our most valuable contributors are authors or would-be authors.

It's up to you if you want to endorse them by placing their profile on the event page. If you feel they are misaligned, or dodgy/sleezy in any way, then you don't have to promote them. However, they're still welcome to propose their session like anyone else.

The judgement you should place on this is if you think what they offer is of potential value to the community. Remember, we're acting in the best interest of our ticket-holders.

Also, you should try to be neutral in your assessment. Source Summit works because it's a place for open discussion. Let the participants discuss what works and doesn't for them.

How large are organizing teams usually?

1-2 main organisers. 1 Advisor 5+ ambassadors to help with promo, topics and community. Usually around 5 ambassadors are quite involved, and there’s a list of 10 or so more Ambassadors on the email list who help out when they can.

On the day: 1-2 additional Source Summit Leaders in attendance 3-6 student volunteers More Questions?

Ask us!


Leading a Source Summit is more about curating and convening than organising. We're going to bring together the right people to create a new environment that will make a contribution to a common community goal.

Leading up to Source Summit, participants share what sessions they'd like to host. Source Summit starts with an empty schedule. People come on stage to explain their session for 30 seconds, and choose a place and time from the empty slots. An hour later, we have a conference built for and by the participants! (It works like magic - we'll teach you how to do this magic trick!)


Time Action Tips
3 – 5 minutes Allow everyone to prepare their presentations and fill out the form. It’s better to allow time for this, than to have people distracted while they’re giving others advice.
8 minutes, repeated for each person presenting 3 minutes max. The Challenger produces their deliverable. (Could be an email, a dashboard, etc.) Don’t allow anyone to interrupt the presenter. Make sure they’re describing their learning goals and not their idea. If someone finishes before their 3 minutes, that time is given to them as additional feedback time. Everyone has 8 minutes total.
5 minutes Clarification questions and feedback. Don't share your opinion on their idea -- focus on their learning direction instead.

Session Formats

Source Summit reli

Open Interview

Learn from someone, exploring relevant context for both the interviewee and audience.

Set up 3 chairs on stage for interviewers. Anyone in the audience is allowed to join as an interviewer, but one chair must always remain empty for newcomers.

Toolbox Share your project or goal, then invite anyone to share a tool or technique that might help. 1. Present project/goal 2. Participants write 1 tool per sticky note 3. Participants present tools (90s each) 4. Discussion

Show & Tell Done something you want to share? Maybe it’ll help others to see what you did, or maybe you want feedback?

Walk us through the actual artifacts as if the audience is your apprentice. Share what worked for you and didn’t.

Clinic Bring a specific challenge to an expert for advice. Take the first few minutes to explain your goal, your resources and what you’ve tried so far.

Then make it practical and work on a specific deliverable together.


  1. Print out large (A2 or A1) Flocks posters. Print roughly 10-20% of the number of people who will be in the room.
  2. Print out small (A4) Flocks posters. Print roughly 20% of the number of people who will be in the room.
  3. Keep the posters with felt-tip pens at the front of the room on a few large tables so multiple people can write their poster. (The small posters are for practice.)


Strict time-keeping (with a visible timer) is a must. Braintrust meetings must start and end on time (on the minute), so that everyone’s time is respected. Commitment starts to be difficult if the meetings take longer or cost more time. Then people start to cancel and the value for everyone else is reduced.

  • Use a timer that stays on and is visible to everyone. People will then be able to adjust their presentations and feedback accordingly.
  • Always keep the timer running. As soon as the timer sounds, start it for the next sessions instantly.
  • Allow 5 minutes for preparation at the beginning, but no longer. Create a culture in your braintrust that you start on time, every time, otherwise it will get later and later and people will drop out.
  • When it’s over, it’s over. Invite people to leave once the last feedback session is done, so they don’t feel obligated to stay.
Choosing your peer group

Choose people who are at a roughly similar stage than you, so that you are all challenged with each others’ goals, and all gain from each others’ input.

Generally, a diverse set of skills and perspectives is helpful in a Braintrust, so your peer group can help you see your challenge broadly and from a variety of angles.

One person per company/project. Don’t have multiple people representing the same project.

Each person should pick the same, single project that they bring to each consecutive briantrust meeting. It’s okay if it evolves over time, but don’t jump from project to new project each time as it takes too much time for everyone to re-orient themselves to the new idea. One of the big benefits of Braintrust is that everyone knows your progress so you can jump right in to relevant feedback without preamble.

Building a long-term support group

Braintrust works best when the group can meet sustainably for 2 – 6 months. This primarily revolves around each individuals commitment to their project, and their ability to manage their time so they make regular progress. If someone consistently fails to make time to execute on their learning goals, everyone starts to lose motivation.

Braintrust becomes a kind of ‘personal trainer’ because each person sets goals and makes commitments. Sometimes, you lost track of time, but you made a promise to your Braintrust to get that specific learning done, so you prioritise it.

The frequency of the meetings must be realistic. It’s typical for people to start with learning goals that are too big to do before the next meeting, and they will learn from that and adjust scope for their next learning goal. But, if the meetings are too frequent and people don’t have time to execute, then people start to drop out. On the other extreme, if the Braintrusts are too infrequent, then the input doesn’t come at a useful time, so people also drop out. For very active learners, weekly is best. For less active learners, every 2 weeks is better. Less frequently than 2 weeks is usually a sign that learning isn’t enough of a priority for Braintrust to work.

Inviations - Benefits to the local community

Source Summit is something people join, not attend.

We’ve seen Source Summit galvanise local startup communities. This happens by drawing on unlikely local startup supporters, and helping local cliques meet and help each other.

You’ll strengthen your local startup community because instead of just flying in external experts for a day, you’ll build up local strengths and help them build relationships with international leaders.

There’s a growing list of notable startup leaders who will happily jump on a plane for Source Summit – they’re a welcome committee for your city!

Invitations - Little Startup Superheroes

The culture we want to encourage is of humility, acceptance that we all have a lot to learn, and of a practical attitude to what works, what doesn't and in what context.

It's great when we're graced by startup superheroes but that's a bonus. They, just like everyone else, stand up and offer their session in the morning planning session. It's a democratic system.

This overrides the reverence we have to superstars, and allows us to focus on learning something useful for us in our own context. It's way more effective to learn from someone who is 6 months or 1 year ahead of us, not just those who made it super-big.

This is how we get local stars like Andreas Klinger, Des Traynor, Stephen Rapoport, Johanna Kollmann, Lukas Fittl and Tendayi Viki – people who keep strengthening their local startup community.

Source Summit builds community by identifying our emerging startup leaders, and giving them a platform to help others.


Balance is really important to make a good Source Summit. (There's a whole section on this below.)

If there's one group that is particularly strong, we don't want them to overwhelm the event, so we release tickets access codes for discount tickets to underrepresented communities with the help of our Ambassadors.

Planning by getting options

Whether you’re asking a venue or speakers for availability dates, or considering topics for talks, or almost anything else, it’s important to always get a range of options.

Making Source Summit work has many different moving parts. Making the best Source Summit possible comes from communicating options to others so we can select an optimum together.

For example, with venues, don't ask for a single date. Instead, get a range of possible dates from the venue, so we can narrow that down later based on other constraints (availability of speakers, other events popping up, other Source Summits bringing in speakers we can share, etc.)

We're way more likely to get a great speaker lineup and great turnout by communicating date options, rather than just choosing a date in isolation.

Don’t optimise by yourself. Communicate options frequently and promiscuously, to your Ambassadors and the Source Summit Leaders. Optimizations will appear.

Choosing a location

See the checklist section for our venue requirements.

Generally, we only work with venues operated by people who already support startups or innovation, and who have someone personally interested in supporting Source Summit. Things go much more smoothly when we're aligned in our goals, and have an internal ally, rather than simply a venue offering space.

Typically, we work with universities or training facilities. They're usually quite keen to work with us to be more closely connected with entrepreneurs, because they tend to be good citizens, and also because we offer their students authentic exposure to a leading entrepreneurial community.

For university entrepreneurship societies, we normally offer an allocation of free tickets for their students, plus give even more students access as volunteers.

Getting the go from Hosting Partners

As soon as you have your Advisor, we’re going to build a localised buzz around all our possible venue partners, letting them know who the prior hosts were and how they benefitted.

We usually go with the first that comes back saying, "Great! Let's do it. What do you need?" This means they're a true partner and will align with us, work with us well and generally make our life easier. (As opposed to people who don't think of it as a common goal and start treating it like a negotiation.)

To get a venue partner in cities where we're not well-recognised, we need to do some social engineering. This has two parts:

  1. We create a sense of excitement. This is done by activating as many introduction as possible to the same people and organisations. If a potential partner hears about us from more and more people, they are more likely to get excited about the possibility. When people keep hearing about Source Summit, they know it'll be significant so are more likely to act. Name dropping our partners in other cities and our past supporters is helpful, but set expectations to be about building community, not having famous people show up.
  2. We create a sense of urgency. We are clear that we are approaching multiple partners, but there can be only one, and we'll work with whoever sees mutual benefit and wants to start right away. Universities can be competitive so will often act on the basis of getting in first. (This can also backfire if they want to exclude their rivals, so we must quickly emphasise the inclusive aspects later, and make specific efforts to include the faculty and community around venues that didn’t get to host.)

It's fine to email them cold, but ideally, you can get warm introductions through the ambassador network and the Source Summit Leaders, so share the list of your target venues with everyone on Slack in #leaders so we can find good connections in.

Tip - Building on local strengths

Think of your city's and region's strengths. Not just in startups. What is your area known for? What are the historic industries? The growing industries? Who are the local leaders?

Scan or the local equivalent. What communities already exist that could add to the diversity of Source Summit?

Having used these questions to explore, you'll start to get a sense of how your Source Summit can be unique and build on local strengths. Old news to you is novel and valuable to the international crowd!

Reach out to leaders in these different communities (thought-leaders, bloggers, event organisers, accelerators, etc.) that aren't necessarily connected to startups, but where mutual learning could be useful. For example, UX people tend to like working on startups, and startups can benefit from learning about UX. You can be creative here, and it's good to err on the side of being inclusive.