How Do I Start A Hardware Happy Hour?

Jan 01, 2020 · 3 mins read
How Do I Start A Hardware Happy Hour?
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So… you’re interested in starting a Hardware Happy Hour in your town? Wonderful!

We are an ad-hoc group, there is no real “membership”. We mostly try to help each other out and to spread the word about meetups. This site and the Hardware Happy Hour moniker exist to help support people that are looking to make friends in the area of hardware.

What is a 3H meetup?

First things first: what is a Hardware Happy Hour? (annotated as 3H here on out for simplicity)

A 3H is a regular meeting of like minded people who want to discuss or showcase the hardware they are building. Normally these meetings happen at bars, restaurants or coffeehouses and attendees bring what they’re working on in the past month. This helps the attendees keep motivated for their projects and also discuss problems they might be having with their projects.

Does it have to be hardware?

We focus on hardware because many of the attendees have that as a primary focus. However, many projects are adjacent to the hardware space. If you have been working on an app but still enjoy hardware, you could bring the app to show off and discuss. Many people building hardware would love to meet someone who is capable of building an app.

The main thing to focus on is the showcase aspect of the meetup. You should encourage all attendees to bring something, anything, to show off. This could be a kit, a document they’re working on, a new piece of test equipment they got, literally anything. This is an important cultural element of 3H to encourage novelty so that attendees feel like they’re getting something different each time they attend.

What makes for a good meetup location?

As mentioned above, there are a wide range of places that are a good fit for meetup locations. Here are what we have found works best for meetups:

  • Decent lighting
  • Not too much noise
  • A commercial location with food/drink infrastructure (more on that below)
  • A centrally located area in your city
    • Think about the commutes of people and try to make them equidistant for people working in different parts of your town.
  • High top tables or non-static seating
    • It’s important for attendees to be able to move between different demos or things that people are showcasing. If it’s a restaurant with static seating, then members cannot interact with everyone there.
  • Counter service
    • If you’re at a location that attendees go up to a counter and order food/drink, that simplifies billing even more, instead of having to split checks among all attendees.

Why a commercial location?

A lot of people interested in starting a meetup suggest a meeting at a hackerspace. While hackerspaces are great communities, there are a reasons to instead target a commercial location like a coffeehouse, restaurant, or bar.

  • Having existing infrastructure to offer food and drink.
    • Going to a general meeting space like a hackerspace means that people will either need to bring their own food/drink or to get a sponsor of the event, which can complicate things.
  • Welcoming new members
    • Many (if not all) hackerspaces are welcoming places that encourage new people to attend meetings. However, there are people that hear the word “hackerspace” and discount themselves, thinking they wouldn’t fit in or be part of an existing group, since many hackerspaces would form the majority attendance of a meetup about hardware. Instead, a restaurant or bar or coffeeehouse is just a place to go and meet new people.

I want to learn more

Email hello@hardwarehappyhour.com and we’ll get back to you with more details about starting a local hardware happy hour. We’re really glad you want to bring people together and talk about hardware!