Canvas Meetup #1 - Some notes about what we learned. We want to hear your thoughts!!!

Mark McFarlane
4 September 2015

[Also posted with photos and nicer formatting on Medium at]

Hi everyone!

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the very first Canvas Meetup last night! It was so much fun and made me so happy to see so many of you enjoying yourselves, meeting new people and sharing your creations! It's exactly what we made Canvas for, and it was wonderful to see it working offline as well as online.

So many of you took the time to tell me how much you enjoyed yourselves last night, which really made my day! I'm sorry I wasn't able to speak with you all, but I'm sure we'll have a chance in the future!

As I said last night, we're building Canvas in a very research-focused way (Lean Startup, Lean UX and all that jazz. See for more). This means that we prioritise learning from you all about your feelings, desires, goals and pains to inform how we should move it forward in the future - e.g. what new features we should add, what existing features need tweaking, and so on.

In fact, the idea for the Meetup was borne from exactly this process. Through our discussions with many of you, we learned:

- That you wanted an easier way to find out about creative events happening around Tokyo. (This is one reason for the discussions feature existing... we never originally planned to put it in!)
- That, actually, there weren't enough events going on for the creative community to satiate your appetite for social interaction (and beer/pizza)!
- That at many of the existing events there was too much standing/sitting and listening to speakers/presenters and not enough mingling and meeting new people!
- And (to a slightly smaller degree) that some events were too focused on one aspect of creativity, e.g. design, programming, etc, and that it was difficult to meet people working in other creative strands.

All of these key themes we observed in discussions with you directly impacted the format of last night's event:

- Make it a Canvas event so it has a pre-made community of a known quality.
- No speakers, only mingling.
- Making mingling easier by providing badges showing name, profession and where you’re from.
- Minimise chairs to maximise standing. In my experience chairs create divisions and hinder mingling.
- Ensure that all Canvas members or others involved/interested in any parts of Tokyo's creative community were welcome, and that skill, specialism etc were not requirements for being able to participate.

And our learning so far from a quick post-mortem of the event:

- Events spread fast on Facebook!!! We hit 50 attendees in the first 24 hours after creating the event on Facebook. And ended up with 130 RSVP’s in total. About half of the RSVP’s were from people I didn’t know at all!
- Some of you put your company name (or something silly like “Earth”) instead of your country as we were intending. We thought that seeing our team’s as you came in would help provide examples to follow, but we should have provided more guidance, and user tested them before the event, ha ha! We’ll be updating them for the next one based on this learning for sure!
- Pizza gets eaten fast!
- ¥1,000 is “too cheap”, according to a number of people last night. Of course the event was never intended to make money (in fact we subsidised the event to ensure beer kept flowing, which we were planning for), but it’s interesting learning nonetheless. We may need to think about how we deal with the cost/drinks/food setup in the future in order to ensure it’s sustainable and fair, so would love to hear your thoughts on this!
- Exhibiting work on the walls and on desks needs more space so people can stand back to appreciate the work and see what’s around. We’re looking at options for larger spaces etc for the future.
- A number of people had heard about Canvas from friends, and weren’t sure if they should be on it or not, so came in order to learn more about it. This indicates an issue with communicating the core concept of the service, and means that we need to work more on the explanation about what Canvas is and who it’s for. We’ve known this for a while anyway from our many user interviews, but it was great to learn about it from people we’ve never met before!
- We’ve learned from a few discussions with the exhibitors after the event that it was generally a very positive experience for them. A number of them had never exhibited their work before, and mentioned that it was rewarding and motivating to see people look at their work and talk to them about it. This makes me very happy, and I love the idea of helping people show their work for the first time in a way which is casual but real.
- Creatives are loud and like to drink.

I’m sure there’s loads more I’m missing, but for now I wanted to get the ball rolling on sharing our learning with you, and hearing your feedback. So with that - please please please post a reply in here with your opinions on how last night was for you, what you loved, what you didn’t like, what you want in the future, or anything other random thoughts! We know the event wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely an amazing enough experience for us that we want to do it again in the future. This is your chance to influence what happens next!

Thanks again!


Mark McFarlane
4 September 2015

P.S. Apologies for my terrible writing! It's never been a strong point of mine. I only just scraped a C for English in high school! One of my aims for the near future is to get better at writing.

Johan Ronsse
UX Professional
5 September 2015

Was sad to miss it but interesting writeup! As you can tell from my activity maybe I really like the forum feature and totally agree that there should be more events like this.

Mark McFarlane
6 September 2015

Thanks Johan! Yeah, it was a pity you couldn't make it, but it looks like we'll be making this a regular thing somehow!

And thanks for your enthusiasm about the forum feature! We're really hoping it's going to grow in the future!

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