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My GDG Devfest Philippines 2013 Experience (Guide to organizing DevFest)

It was the first time I organized such big of an event, and I am sincerely thankful that God blessed me with wonderful teammates: +Wayne Manuel and +Jomar Tigcal. As you might have noticed, I didn't travel at all this month of September 2013. The reason is that we are busy organizing the biggest event of +GDG Philippines called GDG Devfest Philippines 2013.

After three months of planning, the day has come, and last September 17, 2013, we pulled off what I would say a well-organized and successful (365 developers with 15 technical sessions) Devfest. With a three-person core team, below are the breakdown of things we had to do for the Devfest that hopefully would help other Devfest organizers as well.

Months before the event:
  • Pre-Devfest Survey. As early as June 2013, we released a pre-event survey asking what technologies and topics the community is most interested in. We have received more than a hundred responses in just two days!
  • Devfest logo / design
  • Contacting sponsors for additional funding to make the event more awesome!
  • Based on the result of the Pre-Devfest Survey, we planned out the different sessions we would have. We planned for a morning session with all the participants in one plenary session, while the afternoon is generally for breakout sessions. We planned for three breakout sessions and made rooms in case we could only accommodate two sessions.
  • Finding the perfect venue. With our limited budget, finding a place that would accommodate the event for free is a must. But as our target date comes near, we decided to use most of our budget for the venue. We decided to have the event in the very spacious The Tents Alphaland Southgate. The big plus is it's connected to the Magallanes MRT Station, so it's very accessible.

  • Now that we have a venue and our date has been finalized, we started contacting speakers. The site is flexible as well for having two or three breakout sessions. Jomar did an excellent job following up on speakers and making sure that the agenda for the event is always updated.
  • While contacting the speakers, we also opened the registration! In almost three weeks, we had more than 800 developers sign-up, but we could only accommodate 300 (with a buffer for 400 attendees). Jomar read through all the essay answer and confirmed participants by batch. We sent confirmation emails to nearly 650 attendees!
  • Finding and coordinating with the suppliers. Finding suppliers for food (lunch and snacks), lights & sounds, projector & projector screen, photo & video coverage, and stage design have been challenging. Somehow Wayne and I pulled it off with very reliable suppliers for all the things we need. Thanks to our ever-supportive Mama +Chelle Gray, who helped us find different suppliers.
  • The last thing we did is published the agenda and list of speakers in the Devfest event site.

Days before the event
  • Finalize all the details specified above.
  • Find volunteers! In this case, we have GSA and GSA-alumni to help us. Plus, friends from other communities like Devcon really helped a lot!
  • Purchased last minute things: dinner for ingress, breakfast for volunteers, permanent marker, agenda and nametag printing and directional signage to be displayed all over the place!
  • Pray for the best

On the big day

  • Have someone host the event - Go, Wayne!
  • Registration and AM Snacks food distribution
  • Entertain the excellent speakers when they arrive and make sure they are seated in the front row
  • Prepare the lapel microphone for the next speaker.
  • Make sure you have a volunteer whose sole responsibility is to time the presentations.
  • Volunteer to distribute swags for Q&A
  • Volunteer to make sure that the speakers get the token of appreciation
  • Volunteers during Lunch, PM Snacks, and Swags distribution
  • If budget permits, organizers could stay in a nearby hotel to avoid getting stuck in traffic and being late on the event day itself!

After the event
  • Post-Event evaluation survey. Make sure attendees answer it.
  • Thank you, dinner for speakers and volunteers. =D Relish at Ponte served delicious food and accommodated all of us. :)


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