Online Event Tools
Once the application is approved, the Techstars team will provide you with your event management platform template so that you can set up your event.
This platform will allow you to customize your event website, email your attendees; showcase your speakers, judges, sponsors, and the organizing team; publish your schedule, and receive payment or donations from sponsors.
Event Tech Tools and Platforms
Since online Techstars Startup Weekend is taking place virtually, collaboration can happen from anywhere. Tech tools are going to be your best friends to help engage in communication with the attendees, mentors, and judges. They’ll also help you communicate with your other organizing team members before and during the event!
The first step for you and your team will be to set up the tools on your computers and get familiarized with them.
Event Communications Platform Best Practices
Best Practices for Setting up Communication Platforms
Regardless of which communication platform your team decides to use for the online event, below are some important best practices to consider.
When to invite:
Organizers: right away! You can use Discord as your main channel of communication during the planning of your event. It will help you to get used to it and be a pro by the time the event takes place
Facilitator: as soon as the facilitator is paired to your event
Mentors: at least one week before the event takes place
Participants: Monday before the event (2 days before at the latest). Be prepared for the amount of messages coming up!
Organizing team with facilitator
Mentors with facilitator and organizing team
Judges with facilitator and organizing team
Participating teams (optional).
Communication Platform Management Basic Information
Announcements (public channel)
This channel is only used for relaying important information
No more than 3 individuals should be allowed to post updates in this channel (We recommend the Facilitator and 2 members of the organizing team)
Ask Me Anything (public channel)
Assign one team member to keep track of the queries, feedback, asks and troubleshoots
How to form a team (public channel)
I need a team (public channel)
I need mentorship (public channel)
Resources and Tools (public channel)
Just for Fun (public channel)
Ask people to post fun photos there (e.g. their work from home setup, their pet, a selfie, etc.)
Teams channels: Separate channels which can be created by you or the team leaders of each team.
Discord was used during Techstars Global Online Covid-19 initiative. Many of us are familiar with Discord, but some of your event’s participants, mentors, or organizing team members might not be. Here are some guides on how you can use Discord efficiently and minimize ‘noise’ and distractions.
1. Login to Discord
If you are not a Discord user go on discordapp.com, download and install the application and create an account
If you already are a Discord user log in to your account.
2. Setting up your Discord Server
After creating your account, the first thing you want to do is create your server [example template here], which is the workspace where everyone will communicate during your event.
3. Inviting members to your Server
You can invite people (your team squad, mentors, attendees, etc) to your server by sharing an invite link
In the mail where you invite attendees and mentors to the server, ask everyone to register with their full name - it will be easier to match Discord members with the attendee directory and search for people
Optional - ask people to add a profile photo and their current location, to their Discord profile.
4. Assigning roles
Roles are basically the categories of privileges for each user on the Server. You can modify those privileges on the server settings.
*Make sure that the first thing you do after inviting someone to your server is to assign them a role. That will make a lot easier to identify members and to moderate conversations between them.*
The most important role is the Administrator (Admin). This role is the one with more privileges on the server. The person from your organizing team with this role will:
Grant privileges to other roles
Moderate the overall conversation
Guide the rest of the organizing team members on how to use the platform. As well as the facilitator, mentors and judges.
Admin: assign at least 2 people from your organizing team as the Admin
Organizer: ensure all your organizing team members are assigned to this role
Mentors: assign to all mentors
Tech Support: ensure to assign at least 1 person as the Tech support during the event.
Learn more about Discord role management.
5. Channels set-up
Channels are the best way to keep the conversation organized.
6. Text & Voice Channels
Both types of channels are great for communication during the online event. In the voice channel, users can also conduct video calls on Discord by simply joining voice channel and clicking on the video icon (with a maximum of 25 users in the channel).
Troubleshoot: Discord Voice/Video Settings:
MacBook users: If the voice/video settings on Discord are correct you are still having microphone/video issues and are using Chrome, try the following steps below to resolve the issue.
Step 1: Go to Chrome and click on ‘Preferences’ as shown below
Step 2: When you are in Settings, go to ‘Privacy and security’, the choose ‘Site settings’
Step 3: Under ‘Site Settings’ you can view permissions and data stored across the sites. Go to ‘Camera / Microphone’
Step 4: Under ‘Microphone’ you can see which sites are allowed or blocked for accessing your microphone. For most people, Discordapp.com will be listed under ‘Block’ and you need to deactivate that block and make it allowed.
You can bring order to your channels as "sub-channels" housed neatly under categories as you refine your server's layout. Review details on adding categories.
7. Discord Etiquette
Only use @everyone in the “Announcements” channel when you have an important message to communicate, that you want everyone to read.
Many of you will be familiar with Slack and the platform can be an option for the Online event communication. Before inviting participants and mentors to join your workspace, we recommend getting familiar with your workspace's settings and permissions.
1. Inviting members to your workspace
Techstars recommend you to invite participants and mentors to your event workspace via email invitation.
Enter the email addresses of people that you want to invite. If you have a list of emails to add, click add many at once, paste them into the text box, and click ‘add invitees’. Once they accept their invitation, you'll see them in your workspace
Optional - ask people to add a profile photo and their current location, to their Slack profile.
Review details on Slack invitations.
2. Displaying roles
Status and emoji can be used to help display user roles in Slack.
Important: When sending out the invitation, ask participants to use their full name that they used to register.
🤓Participant - Designer
🛠Participant - Developer
💻Participant - Marketing
3. Channels set-up
Channels are the best way to keep the conversation organized. Below are some examples of channels Techstars recommend you must have but not limited to:
Ask Me Anything
Resources and Tools
Just For Fun
3. Slack etiquette
Only use @channel or @here in the ‘Announcements’ channel when you have an important message to communicate, that you want everyone to read.
Slack Etiquette part one: Organize & Be Mindful
Slack Etiquette part two: Respect Your Team & Be Mindful
Event Streaming Platforms
Now that you have a platform with all your channels, you will need to set up the live broadcast platform for your event. Below are some of the platforms Techstars recommend you use during your event.
Who should prepare to make a live stream?
Facilitator (for the welcome on Friday Night)
The organizing team members, specially tech support (for Friday and Sunday key messages)
Mentors and judges (for sharing content or workshops with the attendees) *optional.
Zoom or Google Meet
If your event is small with less than 100 participants, we recommend using Zoom or Google Meet to broadcast all your live contents. Both Google Meet and Zoom are available for mobile devices based on Android and iOS.
Limitations: With the free plan on Zoom, you will be able to host unlimited number of meetings but there is a 40 mins limit on group meetings. See here for more details on Zoom Plans. Google free plan has a 60 mins meeting limit on group meetings. See here for more details on Google Meet Plans.
Live streaming Best Practices
Have backup equipment available - It’s always best to play it safe and keep backups of your gear whenever possible.
Ensure bandwidth availability - Know your network! Test your upload speed to ensure you have consistent upload bandwidth or your live stream may not be viewable by your audience.
Test, test and test! - Have a run of the show with your facilitator and organizing team members before Friday Night! The best way to avoid technical problems is to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Make sure that everyone has created accounts and logged in at least once before the first broadcast!
Online Idea submission and Evaluation platform
Participants will be asked to submit their ideas during the registration period prior to the event as well as submitting their final pitch to the judges on the Demo day.
Untap is a competition management platform that is used by organizations to easily and efficiently plan, launch, manage, and assess online open innovation programs. The software streamlines the process of building a dedicated program website, setting up the call for applications process, receiving and managing submissions, engaging with participants and judges, conducting extensive evaluation/judging workflows, running multiple rounds of submission, and generating an in-depth analysis. Uptap powers startup programs, hackathons, creative competitions, open innovation challenges, grants, scholarships, virtual hiring events, and more. Watch Demo video here.
Techstars Startup Weekend organizers can use Untap for free in exchange for featuring the platform as one of the community/tech partners during the event through logo placement on the event’s website and social media announcements, as well as using Untap's sub-domain (for example: sw-city.untapcompete.com) and powered-by logo notice in the online competition platform using Untap’s own software.
To set up, simply sign up on untapcompete.com/signup and start your programs right away. Ensure to include “SW-[location]” in your sub-domain for the Untap team to verify your programs. If you have any questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Final Pitch: Video recording platforms
Below are the two recommended tools participants can use to record their Final Pitch video. We recommend for the video to be saved as an mp4 file.
Screencast-o-Matic is a free tool for recording screencasts and narration with or without a webcam. You can sign up for a free account from the website and download the tool to your computer. Watch the step-by-step tutorial here.
Video Recording Best Practices
Practice Practice Practice!
Remember to look directly into the camera - you want to connect with your audience. Looking even slightly down or to the side can be noticeable to the viewer
Clean your camera prior to filming -- optical cleaning or microfiber cloths work best
Ensure you have a clear, tidy and professional background
Utilize a remote to advance your slide, if possible.
Tech Checks & Troubleshooting
You should assign one person from the organising team as the Technology Lead to ensure that the right tools and platforms are all running smoothly. The Technology lead will also be the main point of contact for any Tech issues during the weekend.
Basic tech training for the organising team: We highly recommend everyone on the organising team be trained on the basic functions of all platforms and tools that will be used during the event
Tech checks on all platforms early: We recommend the organising team to carry out tech checks on all platforms at least one week before the event.
Check the platform’s official FAQ page: If you have any troubleshooting issues with a particular platform, the best thing to do is first check the FAQ on the platform’s official website. YouTube is also very useful for step-by-step tutorials.