2019 Better Together’s first year in review

I’ll start with a generous extension of 2019 into September of 2018, when Better Together got its start at Denver Startup Week with a session called Better Together: How Freelancers Can Win.

DSW event Better Together: How Freelancers Can Win ad Wood’s Boss (see our slide deck)

Before that moment I hadn’t considered building anything around freelancers but was stuck by the potential energy and eagerness for something to emerge. There was a lot of people looking for a community.

So we began to host monthly meetups. Initially through the Coop Study Circle Meetup.com group. With sponsorship from name.com, who purchased Snarfs sandwiches for our first meetup after the event in October.

The first Better Together meetup at Woods Boss

From those humble beginnings Better Together grew into a bonafide community. In 2019 (and a bit of 2018) we achieved the following:

893 total RSVPs to 19 Events hosted across 5 venues which attracted approximately 430 attendees with the support of 6 sponsors who gave over $3,400

These numbers don’t include our most ambitious project of 2019, Freelance Business Week Denver.

The Better Together community put on:

Week long event with 70+ speakers and 200+ attendees with the help of 25 sponsors across 16 venues.

You can read the in-depth write up of how we did it over here.

Finally here are a few more numbers for those of you who are interested:

We’ve reached 457 email subscribers and 435 meetup members. Plus a few hundred more on social media.

Not a bad start.

Gratitudes

Beyond these numbers are the people and organizations that make up this community. Without them I would just be some weirdo standing in an empty room. What follows is a non-exhaustive list of gratitudes.

  • Amy Darling for your enthusiasm and bravery. When I left for vacation in April and May 2019 she stepped up and took on hosting two of our most popular events. Also as a core organizers for FBWDEN.
  • Jim Darling for taking photos at our events and forgiving me for causing Amy to be so busy!
  • Paul Bindal for inviting me to co-host an event at DSW and getting this whole thing started.
  • Bri Erger for her excitement and willingness to help, plus taking photos, plus modeling good boundary setting!
  • Jenn Uhen for being a absolute powerhouse, for trusting me and diving into a core organizer role with Freelance Business Week, and for all the coaching and mentoring along the way.
  • Katie Falkenberg for co-hosting the DSW event and supporting the first few Better Together events.
  • Monica Stockbridge for being so active in the community seemingly always willing to write an event recap or edit copy.
  • Speaking of copy editing, the one and only Sara Rosinsky for her lightness of being, deft editing of many of my words, and for being a core organizers for FBWDEN.
  • Tom Hartung for his enthusiasm in the community and willingness to share his point of view, I’ve learned a lot from him. Plus his awesome personality images are so cool.
  • Sarah Neighbour for creating this amazing branding as well as helping with graphic design projects throughout.
  • Patricia Garcia for showing up in the community and willingness to share her gifts by hosting an event through Better Together. Also for being a Founding Member.
  • Christina Ibanez for her support and for diving head first into hosting an event with a total stranger;
  • Madison Cleo for being a rock star social media wizard as a core FBWDEN team member.
  • Rebecca Andruszka for your coaching and assistant along with co-leading the core team of FBWDEN.
  • Tom Fellner for co-hosting with Christina and offering so much of your expert time consulting and coaching me.
  • Robin Whitelaw has been engaged from the start offering amazing feedback and ideas plus he hosted an amazing session on selling that continues to resonate with me.
  • Lindsey Anderson for being the first Established Founding Member of Better Together and for her enthusiasm as a speaker for FBW along with her support with graphic design needs.
  • Maddy Osman for putting on awesome events and cheering me on in the early days.
  • Terra Jo Vigil for being so excited by my vision and for taking on the bookkeeping for Better Together along with hosting Holistic Business Finance!
  • Tiffany Huisenga for all the care labor and little bits of help you’ve provided through the year.
  • Jared Ewy from name.com for investing and believing in this idea, we couldn’t have gotten to this point without him.
  • Justin McLean for lending your expertise and coaching to me along with helping Better Together in the search for partnerships.
  • Matthew Fox for your encouragement and support in thinking through technical challenges and for being excited about Better Together.

  • Name.com for providing healthy good food for a majority of our events.
  • Galvanize for hosting nearly all of our events. Their staff is amazing and kind. This one time we were having so much trouble getting our computers to display of file and one of their staff gave us her personal laptop for the whole evening. (RIP Golden Triangle location)
  • Dickey’s BBQ for providing out standing BBQ to an event and
  • The Flatiron School for hosting and providing food and beverages.
  • Pizzeria Local for giving free pizza, is there nothing better in the world than free pizza?
  • PeakMed for providing food and their expertise for our discussion on health care in Colorado. Check out their direct primary care solution, it’s pretty cool.
  • PEEKaMEET for participating in Freelance Business Week and hosting an event.

Eternal gratitudes for those listed above and to all of those most important people absent due to my faulty recollection. It’s been a real honor to bring this thing into the world and level it up for 2020.

I’m doing my darndest to provide value and steward Better Together into the world in a manner that honors your support. I would love if you could leave a comment of gratitude for someone you’ve encountered through Better Together.

What’s next?

I’ve outlined a few goals and objectives for the coming year(s). See the most up-to-date version on our about page.

We provide brave, accessible spaces where workers can regularly connect, grow, and share their knowledge.

To this end I’ve began to form a regular event schedule with both in-person events and online virtual events. You can learn all about them on our events page.

We maintain platforms that connects workers with each other and paying gigs.

I’m in the process of moving our directory members over to this new site, for the time being you can view the old directory here. I have big plans for the directory now that it’s on the new website. Feel free to register and join the directory today.

We create win-win-win partnerships with purpose aligned organizations that benefit members, the community, and the partner.

In this first month I’ve already gotten a trial partnership with The Riveter Denver to host our 1st Tuesday of the month gathering.

Members commit their expert time to help run Better Together and move towards cooperative ownership.

We started the month off with 10 founding members. Now that we have a platform and programming lined up I hope to offer founding membership through spring. Learn about membership on the join page.

I’m most excited about building cooperative ownership, not just because I want to free myself from doing so much work, but because I believe that Better Together will only truly become itself once it becomes a company of us.

I want to give a shout out to Darrell Stern for coming up with a tagline that I feel really nails this point home:

Better Together: The Company You Need to Grow

Because that’s what we are building here, a company like no other. A company where we get to choose our hours, who we work with, what we work on, and when we wear pants. We get to create a company where the product is the realization of our dreams. Where our growth, not the shareholder or boss’s growth, is paramount. Where we keep each other company in that process of growth.

I look forward to building it (better) with you.

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