In July of 2014, I became the director of TEDxSamfordU. Previously, TEDxSamfordU had been a small student-organization with an annual conference but had died at the end of 2013. Starting from scratch, I developed a leadership team of myself and 4 freshmen. Together, we took TEDxSamfordU from a dead organization to a thriving annual conference. I personally took the lead on speaker curation and all marketing. The first year, we had approximately 100 people in attendance at our annual conference. The second year, we had 150+ and “standing-room only.”
Unlike most TEDx events, our target demographic was college students. While most TEDx events market through Facebook, we worked primarily through Twitter and offline marketing. Ironically, these are two platforms that most marketing specialists consider to be dead. For us, Twitter and offline marketing took us from being nonexistent to having an annual conference with “standing-room only.”
Developing Organizational Stability & Sustainability
One of my goals as the director of TEDxSamfordU was not just to create an annual conference but also to make the organization a stable and sustainable one. TEDxSamfordU had previously hosted annual conferences in the spring of 2012 & 2013 but when the leadership graduated, the organization died.
I was determined this wasn’t going to happen again. From the beginning, my leadership team was myself and 4 freshmen. Though having older students on the leadership team as well would have been helpful for me personally, being able to have freshmen meant that if I properly trained and equipped them, they would be able to keep TEDxSamfordU going once I left. The 2017 annual conference was the first one where I got to attend and not lead. The result were incredible. We had previously expanded our leadership team, but they had continued to expand it even more. The conference had great speakers and relatively good audience. TEDxSamfordU was officially sustainable.