My first Fuck Up Night

Jon Batt
3 min readOct 13, 2018


Last night I ran my first Fuck Up Night in Wellington. Fuck Up Nights are an event that started in Mexico City a while back, and now runs in over 200 cities around the world. You can read more here.

If you can’t be bothered clicking through, the premise is that as well as celebrating the successes in business, we need to acknowledge the failures. The thing that most successful business people have in common is a few failures behind them, and for up and coming entrepreneurs it’s super valuable to hear their stories and help learn new lessons. A FuckUp Night has three speakers, each of whom has seven minutes and ten slides to talk about a failure they’ve had, and what they learned.

As my dad told me once “you won’t live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself, best to learn from others”. Now that I read that it kind of sounds like a threat, but that totally wasn’t what he meant.

We ran the first event with the loving guidance of Kate MacDonald from BizDojo here in Wellington, and it actually (ironically) went pretty well. We had 25-odd people show up, three solid speakers and everyone seemed to have a pretty good time. The focus was on start-ups and founders.

Shawn O’Keefe, Charlie Coppinger, and Alf from Moon Unit were our speakers, and they did a bloody fine job. Really pleased that they were willing to step up and be so honest about their own stories, and what they learned. Massive tip of the hat to you guys.

I reckon we’ll run it every two months or so. And the theory is that we’ll have a different location each time — and then can be billed like BizDojo presents: Fuck Up Nights Wellington.

I’m mainly writing this post as a reminder of things to do differently. So here we go:

  • Create a 2 /4 /6 / 8 week plan — it was a bit of a scramble towards the end, and a wee bit terrifying that no one would show up. Better marketing and taking note of numbers etc will help with that.
  • People approached the talks differently — which is ok, but I think I got a bit lax around structure and if I was more organised in what I wanted from the speakers it might have made that a bit easier for them.
  • I need a prepared warm-up speech. Ad libbed this one, which I think people kind of accepted, but forgot some really basic things (like acknowledging the sponsors). Very poor form.
  • Need to remember to say the start that what goes on tour, stays on tour. Creating a safe space for the speakers to engage is really important.

Branding and marketing

  • Aside from the point already mentioned around getting attendees, need to make sure I have a way to contact everyone who shows up. If we had 25 attendees last night, I only have about 10 email addresses.
  • Take photos. I didn’t take any, which is a massive waste of an opportunity.
  • Rebranding. Having fuck in the title probably isn’t going to win many corporate friends, and I’d like them to sponsor an event. Maybe Failure Inc.
  • Get something in place so that people can sign up for updates — facebook page, twitter account, mail chimp list, whatever. But something.

Ok. I think that’s it for now.

(Thanks again to Kate and BizDojo, you guys are amazing)

[this post was originally written on in 2017]



Jon Batt