How Drupal Camp London Was Organised

Posted by Leon Tong on 18 Mar, 2013

So Drupal Camp London has just finished today and has been very well received by all. Attendees, speakers and sponsors alike have been feeding back very positively on all aspects of the event – the venue, the pricing, the keynotes, the sessions and the organisation. Lots of people have already asked for a “How Drupal Camp London was organised” guide to be shared and so here’s the initial post – feel free to add comments and questions. We shall also post a video interview here with the organisers’ thoughts on putting the camp together.

(The true mark of how successful an event has been is when you find tickets being touted on eBay!)

Apart from the volunteered time and resource from City University, the camp organisers and volunteers, the true credit has to go to the Drupal Community as always – without them, none of this would have been possible.

Why Drupal Camp London?
Drupal Camp London originated from various discussions between Drupal companies/freelancers in London (and slightly further afield) last year. One of the main aims was to continue the trend of London based events that benefit Drupal, its users and audiences – both present and future.

London had not hosted a Drupal camp before so it made sense to organise one!

Of the main organising group – only a few of us had similar event organising experience – Tim with helping out DrupalCon London, Hedley with DrupalCamp Oxford, Ben with the Drupal Beer and chats, and Ed and Leon with the Building the Social Web events. (The latter was our link to the eventual venue: City University, London). We later also found a gem in Della – a professional events organiser who used Drupal to build her website – and gave back so much to the camp in return.

Stage 1 – Getting ready to go Camping

June & July: meetings 1 & 2.

It all began mid last year with a number of discussions after work. We collaboratively drafted a press release here to set things in motion.

Given that DrupalCon Munich was looming it seemed the perfect time to organise a BoF (Birds of a Feather meeting of like-minded people) to publicise plans and invite people to get involved. Ben and I also got some advice from Josh Koenig from Chapter 3:

1) Publish details of – and invite the community to – regular monthly meetings
2) Publish all meeting minutes publicly and invite feedback
3) To keep things moving forward there should be a steering committee of 10 – 12 volunteers

August: meeting 3

DrupalCon Munich
A video of proceedings in the Munich BoF is here – as you’ll see we had a lot of questions but didn’t have all the answers in place!

Stage 2 – Monthly meetings @ City University

So we next moved to monthly group meetings in person.

For the first, after an overview presentation on the venue and aims, there was a session where the room split into teams and each team chose a team leader. He/she did an initial brainstorm on their group’s key priorities and presented at the end.

We agreed the following teams and leads:

  • Finance – Ben
  • Project Management – Ed
  • Venue & Logistics – Ed
  • Sponsorship – Farez
  • Content – Alasdair
  • Social Parties – Farez
  • Website Development – Hedley
  • Marketing & Communications – Tim

(After the event we realised that some teams need better definition – finance, sponsors and ticketing all have a lot of overlap and are much larger or complex than the others).

[the presentation is here: ]

September: meeting 4

By this time we had agreed upon these as high level aims:

  • Promote London as one of the leading regions for Drupal
  • Expose Drupal to new audiences
  • Bring new talent into Drupal
  • Help develop Drupal

and these as target audiences:

  • Drupal developers
  • People interested in learning Drupal
  • Potential users of Drupal / clients

September meeting agenda
Presentation and brainstorm/team plan:

Click to access DrupalCampLondon_presentationLIVE.pdf

October: meeting 5

We posted a call for trainers on We were to strike it lucky again when none other than Lullabot agreed to fly over from the USA to give the training (and at a huge discount). Many Thanks to all the Bots for that!

Tim presented design concepts which we all agreed to very quickly. We wanted something that represented what was new, innovative and unique to London – and a departure from Big Ben and London Buses. The Shoreditch “Banksy” style hit the mark – especially with the venue being based in the area.
[The designs are here: ].

The web team very early on decided to use COD and after a long debate, we settled on using EventBrite for ticketing and payment – for the business day and weekend. Even though the payment would be subject to a fee, the pros outweighed the cons. (We could have spent volunteer time and resource building a payment system and site but why reinvent the wheel?).

There was also a web meeting at the regular Drupal Drop in Sprint at Google Campus which resulted in some web planning:
[The planning photos from that meeting are here: ]

November: meeting 6

The agenda for November was here:
By this time the minutes and organising had migrated to a number of Google spreadsheets, email and Basecamp. With hindsight, we could have done with some templates and with being stricter about communications. (We will upload the templates we ended up using here once we have removed any sensitive data).

We had two signatories on the bank account – but this proved an issue when one signatory had to go overseas on a large project. Lesson learnt: always have a backup signatory!

December: Christmas

Always plan for December is a write-off! We kind of had, but then we were hit with a few potential big spanners in the works. The biggest being that Ed was due to head off to Thailand on a sabbatical – fortunately, he had minuted and documented everything so he could hand over to Della – whose professional expertise became invaluable.

Stage 3 – countdown to DrupalCamp London 2013


After the Christmas break, things started to pick up and we posted a bit more on and 

We were already picking up sponsors – the first few being the venue and the volunteers/organisers ourselves – City University, Code Enigma, BrightLemon, Deeson Online, Cameron and Wilding, Agile Collective and Commerce Guys but we managed to get some great support from Cap Gemini, Acquia, American Express, SagePay and Pulsant.

The nearby Slaughtered Lamb pub also gave us a great deal for the Friday and Saturday night parties (we felt the effects by Sunday morning but almost everyone still turned up to hear Robert Douglass’ keynote at 930am!)

Keynotes were confirmed in January as Mark Taylor (Open Source Consortium founder), David Axmark (MySQL founder) and Robert Douglass (Director of Product Strategy, Commerce Guys). All three were Awesome in their own way!

February and March

The last two months were a blur of activity – we moved to weekly Skype calls and Google hangouts every Tuesday afternoon:

The website content was collated and updated; tickets for the business day and weekend were organised in EventBrite; Sponsors were invoiced and chased; the event booklet and name badges designed and printed; the sponsor payments were checked regularly; T-shirts were designed and ordered; sessions were publicised, submitted and finalised.

Top Tips for next time :

Roles – get the roles and responsibilities clear from the start.
Important jobs – have a dedicated person for ticketing, looking after sponsors, design/branding (print/web)
Communication – use a single method of communication (we used face-to-face meetings, email, Google hangout and Basecamp which was possibly too many)
Meetings – have an agenda for, and take minutes of, meetings
Online finance – get online access to the bank account (even if it is a dual signatory) so that you can check when sponsors have paid and pay suppliers promptly
Legal – work out the liability issue – for insurances, signing contracts and agreements well in advance
Decision making – be as open as possible with involving the community, but don’t suffer “death by committee”, have a default route forward if no decision is taken
Briefings – brief speakers clearly on the audience and key messages to get across at the event
Green rooms – have a green room for speakers on the day where they can prepare in peace for their presentation (and ask them to pop in 30 mins before their session)
Event videos

Twitter hashtag: #dcLondon

THANKS TO: (in no particular order):

George Hazlewood and Michael Lenahan and all the volunteers who gave up their time

City University – they gave us the venue, were incredibly helpful, flexible and professional at every step and specifically Alex Elkins and Emma Leaver who gave their time and were with us through the monthly evening meetings

Hedley and Alex for getting on with the website when nothing else existed yet…

Ben, Farez, Alasdair, John, Leon, Ed and Tim & Della, for various aspects of – sponsorship, sprints, BoFs, finance and general organising

The sponsors – without them the ticket price would have been much higher…!

The speakers – the keynote speakers and every single session speaker – the quality of speaker were praised continuously throughout the weekend…

The Drupal community – for all of the above

All documents here are available to share freely under a Creative Commons licence CC-BY (Please link to to credit the source see for more details.)

To support future Drupal Camps all documents here are available to share freely under a Creative Commons licence CC-BY.

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