Alpha Test Report

This past weekend we completed our Alpha test for Open with a successful Open Boston.

Here’s stuff that is working:

  • There’s a need in youth ministry for an upside down training event. (One which favors frontline youth workers in speaker selection.)
  • There’s a need for locally flavored youth ministry training.
  • Attendees at Open are happy with the earthy, organic feel. A lack of polish and the experimental feel is more a strength than a weakness.
  • Speakers are willing to participate without compensation. (At both Alpha tests we had many more speaker proposals than spots to speak, many proposals coming from outside of driving distance to the event.)
  • The quality of presentation is high. Presentations are equal to or nearly equal to those you’d experience at a national conference. But being locally flavored seems to make up the difference.
  • Finding sponsors, partners, and an organizing team has been fairly easy. (The levels of involvement help.)
  • The financial model works. In both cities all of the events bills were paid and profits were shared with the local organizer, a youth ministry-oriented charity, and The Youth Cartel.
  • The event model is sustainable. While the first Open was taxing on The Youth Cartel organizationally, Open Boston was not. As we build out the model and documentation expansion will become easier and easier.
  • The event model is infinitely expandable. I’ve fielded questions for a bunch of expansion cities here in the U.S. and internationally. Expansion is only possible because of the role of the local organizer.

Here’s stuff that needs improvement:

  • Coordination of marketing efforts between the Cartel & the sponsorship group needs to get better. We had great numbers at both Alpha tests, but we’ll need to build the branding more to increase the marketing reach and anticipation. 
  • We need better recording and sharing of the presentations. Ideally, each session is recorded and shared on this website. So far, we’ve only recorded 6 of the 30 sessions. I need to build a better mechanism for getting that done.
  • We need to continue to improve natural but effective ways for our sponsors to connect with attendees. Having the track sponsors act as room hosts was a great addition between our first and second test. But we still need a more effective way for sponsors to connect so they feel even better about their investment.
  • We need better documentation for what’s needed to become a host. Now that we’ve done two cities and talked to a bunch more, we need to make it easier to communicate what’s needed.

What about more cities?

I’m heavily engaged in talking to and finalizing our Beta cities for the 2013 – 2014 school year. There will be a few Open events this Fall and a few Open events next Winter. 6-8 cities added for the Beta phase.

Interest in hosting?

I’m still looking for a couple more Beta cities. (Contact me here.) Here’s what you need to know about bringing Open to your city.

  • You need to identify a location. Preferably a Christian College or other neutral institution. I’m not 100% against doing it in a church, it’s just not ideal. 
  • You need to help identify a local organizer. This is the person who will do the vast majority of the work of promoting the event locally, managing all the day-to-day logistics, etc.
  • Beyond the Beta cities, if you are interested in becoming a host/local organizer you must attend an Open somewhere else. It’ll be so much easier to pull it off if you’ve seen it.

So far, I’m very happy with the development of Open and I’m very much looking forward to the next phase of development as we solidify stuff and refine some processes.

2 thoughts on “Alpha Test Report

  1. Marty

    Adam, I’d really love for this type of event to come to the West TN area. Union University is there, and is convenient for a lot of local area churches, including North Mississippi, East Arkansas, and Western Kentucky.

  2. adam mclane Post author

    Hey Marty, we are exploring a Nashville event for winter 2014. (There are 2 national YM events in Nashville this fall) But I know we’re definitely wanting to do a beta test in that general region. If Nashville doesn’t work out, Memphis would be my next option.


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