Username Post: How does one go about starting up a con?        (Topic#332)
SaiyanSerenityV 
Newbie
SaiyanSerenityV
Reg: 06-05-07

06-05-07 11:33 PM - Post#1104    

Jo.

I'm never really sure if this is the appropriate place for this type of thread. Please don't slit my throat.

Anyways, I live in a town with quite a bit of otaku, and I couldn't help but notice that our town also has a couple convention centers. After a lot of discussion, we all decided that it would be neat if we could host our own convention. We've decided to call it "Kuruu-con", and we've come up with a lot of interesting ideas to make Kuruu-con unique. However, there's one question that arose in all of our minds...

How does one go about starting a convention?

Obviously you have to rent the convention center, and get the word out, but what else?

Also, maybe you guys could help with fund-raising ideas? I thought about selling these T-shirts I designed a while ago, plus saving my paychecks. Some friends of mine came up with some ideas for themselves, but others are completely stumped, not to mention flat broke.

We're all really excited about the idea of Kuruu-con. Please help make this possible!
They come in SIZES?


 
Confucius 
Attendee

Reg: 06-04-07

06-06-07 03:03 AM - Post#1106    
    In response to SaiyanSerenityV

  • SaiyanSerenityV Said:
...
How does one go about starting a convention?
...

I guess I'm going to sound like the Grinch who stole anime-fandom but my advice is DON'T. Starting a con is like opening up a used bookstore....it's like committing financial seppuku.

Still there?

1) Okay my advice is don't go it alone. Most cons lose money within the first 3 years so the more people you can spread the losses around the better. A board of directors/founders starting with say 5 people would be a good start.

2) I recommend starting off at a college for the first year rather then a hotel. It's cheaper and acts as a good stepping stone for you to get more experience in running a con. Yes I know there are cons that did not start this way but have become fabulously successful ---> Anime Boston. However let me point out that's "uncommon".

3) there's a lot more but then again your question is too general to be summed up in 1 thread. ohhh and BTW make sure you save some money for a bottle of Captain Morgan's ---> it helps make the pain go away after the con ^_^


 
SaiyanSerenityV 
Newbie
SaiyanSerenityV
Reg: 06-05-07

06-06-07 07:13 AM - Post#1107    
    In response to Confucius

Wow, people are paying attention to me.

Hahaha... I understand your concern, but I really do intend on doing this. I know a lot of people in neighboring states who would bring a few van's worth of people each if Kuruu-con came into exsistance. Not to mention the abundance of people in my town alone. I think we would do decently our first time around.

So far there's about 7 people taking this seriously (as in the founders), and hundreds more who would start supporting once the katamari got rolling. [/badpun]

Thank you for the advice about the college. It does sound a little less risky, and a lot cheaper. I've actually got a great place in mind, now.

But there's still the matter up coming up with more money. Do you think selling shirts is a good idea?

(I'm all over the Capt. Morgan idea too. ^^;)
They come in SIZES?


Edited by SaiyanSerenityV on 06-06-07 07:15 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
rednecko 
Con Regular

Loc: Rednecksville, USA
Reg: 01-02-07

06-06-07 08:18 AM - Post#1108    
    In response to SaiyanSerenityV

Where are you located? You may already be in a crowded convention market. I know Baltimore/Washington is a crowded convention market. Never start a convention in a convention center. Very few cons are big enough to start in convention centers. The only one I can think of is Anime Boston, but they were expecting 1,000 people.

Have you ever worked a convention? You should work a convention all the way to a senior level (at least a vice chair) before you start your own convention. Every con needs help on a low level or as a volunteer (even Anime Expo).

Understand that you will need (depending on market and venue) any where from 5,000 to 30,000 in start up capital. You will need to get that from friends over relying on the Dealers and members for that capital.

All in all I would not start a full weekend event. It may also be a good idea to start a local anime club or cosplay club instead. You build smaller communiites, but better communities of friends. Your mileage may very on my advice.

 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

06-06-07 10:07 AM - Post#1113    
    In response to SaiyanSerenityV

Read through this thread for some common mistakes of first year conventions:
http://forums.animecons.com/showtopic.php?tid/69/
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
Greggo 
Attendee
Greggo
Loc: Independence, MO
Reg: 02-15-07

06-07-07 10:14 PM - Post#1121    
    In response to PatrickD

I agree with the "DON'T!" crowd, at least until everyone involved has had a couple years of experience working at an existing con in some sort of leadership capacity. And make sure you have about $20,000 seed money ready to roll before you start.

 
Confucius 
Attendee

Reg: 06-04-07

06-08-07 09:54 PM - Post#1126    
    In response to Greggo

summary
-PatrickD says read thru the threads.

-Greggo and Rednecko mentions seed money/start up capital.

-SaiyanSerenityV mentions a fundraising idea like selling T-shirts

Hmmm...please don't take my comment as being mean. But the T-shirt idea sounds destined for failure. Who's going to buy a T-shirt at a first year con? You don't have your name/reputation established yet. People need to build up their "loyalty" to something before they buy a T-shirt. (my 2 cents)

If your con survives the 1st year then out-source the job of T-shirts/ "merchandising" to lower management.

"Seed" money is important. You either have it or you don't. If you/ your group doesn't have $10,000 right now....then this project is finished before it even started. Sounds harsh but there's no way around it.

 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

06-08-07 10:01 PM - Post#1127    
    In response to Confucius

...and the profit margin on T-shirts isn't huge. You'd have to sell a ton in order to make any significant amount of money. That's not an easy task to do BEFORE the con even exists.
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
SaiyanSerenityV 
Newbie
SaiyanSerenityV
Reg: 06-05-07

06-10-07 09:32 PM - Post#1130    
    In response to Confucius

No no no no nooooo, the T-shirts aren't for the con, it's just designs me and my friends have been working on for some time. They don't have any relation with the con itself, just to use the profits to help save money until we all get the hell out of school.

This con isn't going to happen for a few years, but I like to plan ahead. Way ahead. All these suggestions are really helpful in pointing us down the right path, and I'm very thankful to all of you.
They come in SIZES?


 
doubleh 
Attendee

Reg: 01-30-08

01-31-08 11:34 AM - Post#2043    
    In response to SaiyanSerenityV

Yeah, a good friend of mine( she turned me on to this site) and co-worker is doing her own convention with her husband soon and they are doing a lot of fundraising/advertising using t-shirts with her design on them....if this is something that you are interested in doing, let me know and I can definitely help you out.
MyWork!


 
doubleh 
Attendee

Reg: 01-30-08

01-31-08 11:37 AM - Post#2044    
    In response to PatrickD

the profit margin on t-shirts is huge on the contrary....especially if you have them done in the right place....most of the time you are looking at least a %100 profit on a shirt. AT THE LEAST. But they are also good advertising whether you make a lot of money on each one or not. It will come back to you in the end regardless.
MyWork!


 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

01-31-08 07:40 PM - Post#2045    
    In response to doubleh

...but really, how many people are going to want a T-shirt before the con exists? In my experience, it's something that sells better at the con or shortly after.
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
Drorain 
Con Addict
Drorain
Loc: Massachusetts
Reg: 01-18-07

02-01-08 09:37 AM - Post#2046    
    In response to PatrickD

The T-Shirt thing is a business they are talking about for generating revenue I think Pat, their probably producing stuff more on the lines of shirts you see over on threadless.com...

I will not speak to starting a con, I'm on staff as the designer for one of the cons, but I can speak a little more to business.

Get your tshirt designs together, decide how you want to produce them, do you want something thats good quality or something thats cheaper so you can have more quantity.

Consider the vendor you want to print with, you'll need to make sure they can produce the shirts as they exist, some printers aren't able/willing to print on certain parts of a shirt...nothing fancing like a deisgn that creeps over the shoulder or around the mid-drift. Are they full color or 1-2 colors that can be done through silk screen.

If you are an experienced silk-screener, producing the Ts yourself might be more cost effective as well, consider that.

Business side, is there a market for your designs, look to the competition and see what is selling for them. Don't rip off their design, but consider similar styles.

Scout places willing to sell, maybe someone will put a rack of your shirts up for you rather than trying to sell out of your house. Consider alternative marketing sources like a myspace site devoted to the company.

Get your T-Shirt company going, if you are successful and once you've experienced all the pleasures and miseries of business, then consider the con, frankly running a con is like running a business. It's not once a year, it's something your working on ALL the time.

Finally, don't be the one person taking all the financial risk, find some partners, form an LLC so your personal finances aren't at risk. Get a business line of credit if you can, and make sure you get seed money, very important.

Good Luck
I'ma Designer! PowderKeg Graphic Design
I'ma Blogger too! Holy Carp!


 
doubleh 
Attendee

Reg: 01-30-08

02-01-08 08:57 PM - Post#2047    
    In response to Drorain

he's definitely right....and if you need help or have any questions regarding anything he talked about, just let me know and i would be happy to help you out....i'm in that business, and help people getting started...i got in the business b/c i was doing the same thing you are doing....so best of luck!!!!
MyWork!


 
Kimichou 
Attendee
Kimichou
Loc: PA
Reg: 01-28-07

06-29-08 08:55 PM - Post#2723    
    In response to SaiyanSerenityV

I personally would say DON'T. Starting our con was fun at first but then it turned into so much stress and challenged how we were treating each other due to some people doing all of the work and getting no credit and people doing nothing and taking all the credit. We're not having our con again due to an issue with a dealer and all the stress we were going through running one =/.
~~Shikkaricon Founder (con now defunct)~~
http://shikkari.sora-hana.net





 
K2theninja 
Attendee
K2theninja
Loc: Helena MT
Reg: 01-19-11

01-20-11 02:36 PM - Post#8195    
    In response to Kimichou

Having seed money in place before creating the Con is a great idea. I only wish some of the Cons in my neck of the woods would have prepared using that. Anyways, since I'm pretty much in the same boat as you, I'm not sure my advice will be that helpful, but I would make sure at least one person in the main board of directors, really likes their anime and is a very good fan of one or two VA's, or is interested in Voice Actors/Actresses in general (like being a regular Fanclub member, or has some minor acquaintance in dealing with a VA) that way he/she can build up that relationship to help the convention (by getting autographs or autographed goods). Then the Con will at least have something tangable for attendees to look forward to (in lieu of a guest, since having seed money aside, most first time Cons forgo guest appearances). Also, when planning for the Con, having a really conservative number for attendees will keep things in prospective (the first con I volunteered to assist with were waaaaay too gung-ho, like 'People will come from like 3 states away, since it's the very first anime convention in this state; and we'll have like 500 people enjoying it!' when in reality we had like 200 attendees). The only other useful suggestion I can add, is to make sure you get the Con filed as a Non Profit Organization. Once that status is achieved, your board of directors will be protected from any losses the Con incurs.
Industrial Liaison Lead for MT anime conventions 2011

Sugoku Con Cosplay Picnic 2011 (Canceled; Prepping for full Con in '12')
Nagu Con (August 19-21?)
Electrycon (Canceled)


 
A x e l - F 
Con Addict
A x e l - F
Loc: So. Utah
Reg: 07-08-09

01-24-11 06:12 PM - Post#8225    
    In response to K2theninja

I am one of the few people in the world that woke up one morning and started a convention on the fly and actually didn't decide to kill myself or be financially bankrupt when it was over. While you should serioulsy think and take everyone's advise before starting a con (it's a lifetime commitment, like a child so use protection if your not ready) here is how I went about starting my very first convention.

1) See how much money you can afford to rent a hotel/convention space.

2) Shop around for said hotel and compare prices and which venue suits your needs.

3) Find a date that is a decent distance from any other cons in the area if you are in a place that has other cons.

4) Book the hotel and get a good website set up.

5) ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ADVERTISE!

And that is the basics young grasshopper.

Don't expect your first year to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Keep your figures and your expectations low and you'll manage. As for guests, Patrick gave me the best advice ever "Guests are not the most important thing in the world. If you put a bunch of anime nerds together in a room, they are going to make their own fun."

Best advice I was ever given. Especially after our first year guests was arrested and booked on drug charges. Funny thing is, no one ever noticed we had no guest.

I also notice that K2theninja mentioned to get a convention filed as a non-profit. While this is not required, it would be a good idea for someone who is not extremely business savy and good at keeping track of their money.
A x e l - F
Public Relations
Anime SG // Anime Bonanza




 
K2theninja 
Attendee
K2theninja
Loc: Helena MT
Reg: 01-19-11

01-31-11 01:32 PM - Post#8267    
    In response to A x e l - F

Well Axel I learned that from a more business savy friend who knows about that kind of stuff. Non Profit status as a Con will also help in the long run because local businesses will also be more apt to help after the first few years, because they'll be able to write off any support as 'charitable donations' and get refunded for it at the end of the year.
Industrial Liaison Lead for MT anime conventions 2011

Sugoku Con Cosplay Picnic 2011 (Canceled; Prepping for full Con in '12')
Nagu Con (August 19-21?)
Electrycon (Canceled)


 
A x e l - F 
Con Addict
A x e l - F
Loc: So. Utah
Reg: 07-08-09

04-18-11 07:06 PM - Post#8734    
    In response to K2theninja

Ah yes, that is true and while it may work for some cons, it doesn't mean it will work for all of them. I myself run my conventions under my own banner as a 'for profit' business which I have found to be a rare breed among conventions in the world. I do this for several reasons:

1) I wish to remain in control of my business which cannot be done as a non-profit which requires a board of directors//council.

2) I can control all aspects from public relations to advertising and everything in between.

3) Because the majority of the upfront costs is paid for with money out of my own pocket, if I over spend the budget and loose money, I have no one to blame but myself.

I have only met one other person on these forums who ran his conventions for profit the same way that I do and I pretty much summed up everything he told me in the points above. It was a bit of a challenge at first but when you put your blood sweat and tears into something that is your passion, it begins to pay off. I started off with one little dinky con and now I have made my way up to hosting two conventions in two different states in only the past three years. I'm happy to say that I was there for every moment of all of it, pushing my way forward.
A x e l - F
Public Relations
Anime SG // Anime Bonanza




 
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