It’s been almost a year since Six Two, a web design agency in Ashford, started hosting Kent Digital Meetup Ashford in the iconic Picturehouse cinema in Ashford town centre.
The free meetup is aimed at people who work in digital and people who are interested in learning more about digital, and is held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Picturehouse Ashford. It is a space to connect, learn and network in a relaxed and social environment, whilst enjoying some free food and drinks.
“I feel excited and humbled we’ve been able to bring so many people together from around Ashford and the entire county together under the digital banner” said Six Two’s CEO and Co-Founder, Aaron Taylor.
Aaron hosts each meetup, introducing the guest speakers and leading the Q&A sessions.
“We’ve brought together over 200 people to hear talks on over 15 different topics this year alone. We’ve had some amazing feedback on the event. People constantly tell us how much fun the events are and how much they learn at each one. I’m proud that we’ve managed to create such a welcoming, social and inclusive atmosphere — it’s really at the heart of what we stand for and why we do this.”
A sentiment echoed by Julie Daniel of The Chic Stylist, who attended her first meetup in October. “I was bowled over by the warmth, welcome and seriously buzzing energy of a room full of creatives and amazing Kent businesses,” said Julie. “[People] came from near and far to collaborate, learn, engage, connect and embrace more of what the digital world has to offer.”
Mike Hacker (Hax) of Prisma Broadcast, has been a regular attendee since the beginning and has plenty of praise for Kent Digital Meetup. “These meetups are so enjoyable”, Hax said. “I’ve always learned something new from the speakers. Great networking too and a couple of joint ventures in the pipeline for us already.”
The networking and partnership opportunities is a key part of the Kent Digital Meetup offering, alongside the opportunity to learn from the talks.
“We’ve seen a lot of collaborations as a result of people getting to know each other and building that trust. There’s so much power in like-minded local businesses coming physically together,” commented Helen Fairley, Co-Founder and COO of Six Two. “Of course, none of this would be possible without Megan, our wonderful Marketing Assistant who organises the whole show.” she added. Six Two’s Marketing Assistant, Megan Morley, promotes the meetup on social media, organises the private room at the Picturehouse, orders the food and drink, plans the range of topics to be covered and books the speakers months in advance.
“When organising an event like this, you need to be prepared,” Megan said. “We had a speaker fracture their shoulder the day before their talk, once! Luckily I could bring a speaker from my schedule forward.” Continuing, Megan added, “When they were better, they gave their first ever public talk and it went down a storm.”
Giving a public talk for the first time can be a scary and daunting prospect, but thanks to the warm and supportive atmosphere, Kent Digital Meetup has helped numerous, seasoned, digital experts step onto the stage and give their first ever public talks. “For me, that captures a lot of what Kent Digital Ashford is all about – helping the local business community grow their knowledge and skills and support each other along the way,” Aaron commented. “And it’s great we have such a cool place to hold it that supports the local area. Our meetups have brought hundreds of people to the Picturehouse for the first time. They’re bowled over by the space and come back to see a film later.”
The success of Ashford’s Kent Digital Meetup has inspired other digital experts to start their own branches. October saw the launch of the Maidstone branch, hosted at 4Degrees by Chris Willmott of Pentascape, whilst December sees the launch of Medway’s Kent Digital Meetup which is held at Dragon Coworking and hosted by Joe Bennett and Karl Cowell of JK Online.
To celebrate the end of their first year, Kent Digital Meetup are holding a special Christmas event on Wednesday 18th December from 6.30pm. “This one’s going to be a little different to normal,” Megan said. “Normally we have 2 talks with networking before, after and during the break.” “For 18th December, it’s more of a social – we won’t have any talks, leaving us more time for networking, socialising, playing games and eating and drinking. It is Christmas after all!”
If you’d like to come along on the 18th December, you can register for free here: https://www.meetup.com/kent-digital-meetup/events/zzzffryzqbxb/
As with every Kent Digital Meetup, food and drink is provided by the sponsors Six Two, and you can park in the Picturehouse cinema car park from free from 3pm every day.
The first meetup in 2020 will be Wednesday 15th of January. It will be in its regular format:
- Arrivals and networking from 6.30pm
- Food at 7pm
- First talk and Q&A 7.15pm
- A break at 7.45pm
- Second talk and Q&A at 8pm
- Finishing and more networking at 8.30pm
To register to attend any future meetups, follow https://www.meetup.com/kent-digital-meetup/.
If you’re interested in talking at a meetup, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.