Still learning

I’ve finally realised what my product is – what a relief, and what an opportunity to map a firmer future.

Still learning

Brendan Lewis

I had difficulty figuring out what the Churchill Club was doing after our initial concept didn’t work, which I mentioned in my blog last week.

This caused me to have my first insight. If I am going to have 30 people turn up, why not accept the fact, and engineer the events, so the club makes a bit of money with 30 people. Much more fun than losing money and being really, really stressed that we didn’t get 100.

So now we are running some really interesting topics. We do it out of our boardroom (which admittedly is pretty nice) and don’t have lots of fancy AV support. In fact “no PowerPoint” is part of our pitch.

Sure we only get 30 people but we make a slight profit, have fun and the audience really enjoys the intimate environment where they are guaranteed to be able to ask a speaker a question.

People still on occasion say to me “I can’t believe you’re not getting a bigger crowd”. My response is to smile quietly.

The second insight was that questions I personally wanted answered were valid to the community of technology entrepreneurs we have in Australia. Sure they may not have as much gravitas as addressing Australia’s bio-risk over the next 50 years, but they still pull in an audience that’s passionately interested.

I call them programs for players, not cheer squads – “How to go global on a shoestring”, “How to raise equity without diluting your capital too much”, “How to build brand” and “Accessing cheap technology via web 2.0”.

My final insight though, was what my product was. Among all my other events, I started to run these monthly panels on questions that interested me as a technology entrepreneur.

After a couple of months I decided to do some analysis on the performance of these club events, and noticed a strange thing. Sure we are still pulling sub-50 crowds, but three performance indicators were going up.

  1. The number of people attending events.
  2. The number of repeat visitors at events.
  3. The number of people deciding to become members of the club.

That was when I had my final insight. My product wasn’t an event; it was a series of events. Specifically, the monthly entrepreneurship panel. With this insight I suddenly realised that I could:

  1. Plan ahead, even a year ahead.
  2. Be more efficient in my marketing as I understood whom my customer base actually was.
  3. Tweak the events to improve the value proposition to the audience.
  4. Start to get sponsors interested.

Finally, I realised that I could continue running a seemingly random collection of events on other topics with other formats, but what I was actually doing was conducting customer research for another product (that is, another series of events, to layer on top).

The result? Much, much, much less stress – and a firm foundation for building the Chuchill Club.


Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



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