Canceling an event a month before the day

Haruka Furukawa
Jan 10 · 5 min read

日本語はこちら

On Nov 5th, 2019, we announced the launch of BARK.
At the same time, we announced that “BARKATION by BARK” will happen on Feb 19–20, 2020.
And today, Jan 10th, we announced that we are canceling this event.

I am writing this post because a lot has happened during this period and I guess many people are curious. Also as a log for myself and the team, as one of the biggest decisions we’ve made.

This post is about:

1. What is BARK, what is BARKATION
2. From launch to now
3. Why cancel?
4. What we’ve learned and from now


1. What is BARK, what is BARKATION

I wrote an intro about BARK in the previous article, so here I’ll write about BARKATION (BARK+Celebration) and why we’re still sticking to the idea of offline events, continuously from our previous activities of “Slush Tokyo.”

Our mission is to make the world into a place where people any challenger — regardless of nationality, cultural background, age, gender, specialty… etc. — can grow to their full potential. Our activities are based on this mission, to make this environment the norm.

When I visit countries outside Japan, often I hear “Japan is a cool place for vacation but not easy to do business” or “hmm, don’t really think of doing business there.” There’s still a lot to make an effort in terms of inclusivity (nationality, language, culture, age hierarchy… etc) here, and it’s difficult for Japan to be a role model…

…Really?
We believe that most of us are just stuck in a “we can’t do it” mindset and only a few people are trying to change. What if it turns the other way around? What if there’s a place where we “can” ignore all these barriers, and make it a trigger to push people’s backs to try tackling impossibles?

We wanted to build an experience to open up new perspectives, thus we were designing a place where people gather offline — an event.


2. From launch to now

We spent weeks and months of brainstorming and planning before we launched BARK and BARKATION. I think it was the longest philosophy time ever.

The two months from the launch to having to make this decision at the end of the year was literally a hustle.
Building a brand from scratch was totally new experience for all of us. Any changes in venue elements? Is our marketing strategy good enough? The sales team wanted new weapons, new content, and new teams…

Every problem was happening and fixed at the same time. We were jumping and high-fiving every time we got a sold-ticket notification, RT on twitter, any progress on our system, receiving emails of collaboration offers… Step by step we felt confident that this is going to work out.

At the same time, time was ticking and 2019 was about to end.

It was almost a month until the event and we had to talk about what we have to give up from the “ideal” plan.

The team was really in a good mood. Ideas we were dreaming for years were close to coming into real life. I felt so sorry to have to discuss what “not make happen” with the team, and scheduling this kind of meetings already made me feel like shit.

I knew that every single person in the team didn’t want to give up anything. We wanted everything in our plan to happen. I didn’t want to give up either and believed that we are able to make everything happen perfectly if we just decide to. Everyone was proposing new ideas everyday.

One month to go.

We are a team based on “Just do it” / “Everything is possible” spirit, but this time we had to consider our resource and time at the same time.

We spent hours of this not-the-most-exciting discussion during the holiday.(It really saved my mind because there’s always someone in the team that makes a really good joke in the middle of a serious conversation. One of the reasons that I love this team.♡)


3. Why cancel?

“Done is better than perfect” vs “Don’t ship shit”
Those two famous sayings were fighting in my head forever.

Opinions from team members:
1. Let’s not make a culture that we give up half-way. Also if we cancel the event, we might stop this whole movement.
2. Let’s execute this when we’re 100% ready. It might be the right timing to take time to start fresh.

Both of the opinions were so true, and we went this over and over with the team. We ended up going back to “why we’re doing this.”

Our mission is to “create an environment where the next generation of entrepreneurs can grow to their full potential.” Organizing events was one strategy of making that happen.

The 2 days that we were building was designed to be a trigger for every attendee to start acting in a different way in their daily lives. We wish that those people sometimes remember about BARK and think “I was able to do this and that at BARK… Maybe I can try again.” and we hope those experiences would be a gentle push. We believe that our mission would be realized with everyone’s small challenges like this.

Thus we need to create content/atmosphere where the attendees feel “this was good. I don’t want to forget this feeling.” “I want to share this with my friend.” and slowly grow the movement.

We had an option to “do the event”, but we weren’t sure whether we would be able to meet the audiences’ expectations and the quality we wanted to provide. This is the reason why we decided to cancel the event. We couldn’t “ship shit” after all.


4. What we’ve learned and from now

Although we are canceling the big event in February, we will continue our activities of BARK and will keep the movement growing.

We spent a long time in summer to crystalize our vision. But having a clear vision was not the only key to a successful product. This might be so normal for a startup, but it was great learning for our team that used to work with a strong brand (and suddenly releasing it.)

We’ve pitched and talked with many people from all around the world, and got many supportive comments/collaboration offers. This made us even more eager to make our BEST outcome.

Now it is time for us to start again from WHY and reconsider:

  • What are the true needs of our audience
  • Was this the best experience we could deliver
  • There are an increasing number of “events” and how we could be more special

Our team is still in the course of learning and will continue to figure out our way to realize our mission.

Please look forward to our next challenge!

welcomebark

Haruka Furukawa

Written by

CEO at BARK. Used to run Slush Tokyo. Ex-barista with coffee running in veins, now brewing startup ideas.

welcomebark

BARK

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