How EnsembleCo Built an Event Series for the Future
EnsembleCO is a live-learning event series for young emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. An Ownr-founded business, EnsembleCO kept the rule book, but rewrote the rules to curate a new kind of speaker series that’s both fun and educational. The five founders, Mike Girgis, Sandy Marshall, Baron Manett, Cathy Landolt, and Andrew Lane share their entrepreneurial tips with Ownr.
Q1: What does it take to launch and run a successful event series?
The first event in a new series is a leap of faith. The three key elements are content, supporters, and audience. All three are dependent on each other, and must come together by the launch date. You also need to create a great experience for your audience from the start, so that they’ll talk about the event afterwards, and come back to a future one. It’s crucial to find partners who agree to your vision and see promise in your plan.
Q2: What did the team focus on to organize the first Ensemble event?
We focused on creating an event that was different from a typical conference, and at the same time, we had to work on building our audience. It’s a chicken and egg situation. You need an audience for an event, but you need an event to interest the audience. We leveraged our network of contacts and spread the word to cultivate an audience of early supporters.
Q3: What has been your biggest challenge in running your business thus far?
It’s easy to get distracted by the hundreds of ideas and opportunities that our team has. But we prioritize the key areas that grow our business. Focus truly drives results for our team.
Q4: So, how are Ensemble events different from other conferences?
Our approach is to choose themes that are far removed from regular industry topics. The first event was about the rise of eSports and gaming. We used lighting and fog machines, chose a cool venue, and brought in a DJ to make the entire experience fun. With volume II, we surprised the audience with a musical choir. Our last event was about the future of funny, and our eighth volume will talk about the future of cities.
Q5: All five founders have day jobs alongside Ensemble – how do you all make it work?
Since it’s a quarterly event, we work in waves. Each one of us brings different skills to the mix, and we’re busy at different times in the event cycle. We plan for that, and adjust around our day jobs. That said, the team is always thinking about Ensemble. Any person we meet is a potential candidate for a future event. Networking is the biggest thing other entrepreneurs should consider.
Also, listen to your audiences and respond accordingly. Show them you care about what matters to them. We wish we knew the responses we would receive. We would have started earlier.