No such thing as a free lunch?

If you’ve visited this site before you’ll know we recently ran a demo day. It appears to have really worked for the people who attended and you can find details of their experiences on this blog. The objective of the day from our perspective was to have some fun and hopefully develop some business from it, so we made the whole thing free and threw in beers and pizza (although no one would let us pay which was very flattering!)

When we first started talking about the day there was a flurry of activity and without checking and if memory serves 24 people initially said yes please, which was fantastic. Once we had plumped for a date and the days started counting down the apologies started to trickle in and within days to go there the trickle increased to a stream which left us with the 8 brave souls who played (and what a great bunch they were)

Before proceeding let’s make two things very clear:

1. Everyone who dropped out did so for valid reason and were polite enough to let us know

2. Those who made it on the day were great and made the day work for everyone

The point we are curious about is this – if we had charged people for the day would we have had less sign ups but fewer drop outs? Or given it was our first “open” event, would charging people have meant no sign ups at all?

Is cancelling a free lunch the easiest way to create some space in your diary and does having parted with money anchor it in there good and proper?


One thought on “No such thing as a free lunch?

  1. It’s hard to beat skin in the game. However, let me indirectly answer the question posed…

    I’d say that the commitment the 8 players made was one where “the skin” we had was clearly not about money. The experience it created probably reflected that. Maybe it could be described as an emotional or relational commitment.

    If the day had been charged for, then I suspect it would have had a different impact on the audience or could even have attracted a different audience. The commitment though would principally have been a financial one.

    Personally, I think people find financial commitments easy to arbitrage and they don’t lend themselves to emotional/relational commitments. Emotional/relational commitments are not easily arbitraged, but can lead to lasting financial commitments.

    So perhaps the question for all of us is “what commitments do you we want to establish?”.

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