The power of in-person events is like nothing else we can offer an audience. So why do we often let fear and doubt stop us from bringing our people together?
Here's the easy way to overcome uncertainty if you've never hosted anything: just start small!
In this episode, I'm excited to have Dan Franks share his expertise and help us foster real-life connections through incredible events at any point in our journey. He is the co-founder of Podcast Movement, the world's largest conference for podcasters. Dan and I also worked side-by-side on Card Party, my first event in the Pokémon space!
So how do you host your first meetup and avoid beginner mistakes that could cost you a lot of money? How do you grow an event to a massive scale without going corporate and losing the essence of what made your idea special?
We cover all of that in today's session and give you a behind-the-scenes look at Card Party and Podcast Movement for an extra dose of inspiration. Tune in and enjoy!
Dan Franks is the co-founder and President of Podcast Movement, the world's largest conference and trade show for the podcast industry. He is a CPA, was formerly the Business Manager and Director of Live Events for Midroll Media, and spent his twenties traveling the world as a professional wrestler. When not running live events or jet-setting in spandex, Dan spends his time with his family in beautiful Dallas, Texas.
- Find out more at PodcastMovement.com
- Creating and running the largest conference for podcasters
- The mistakes that cost beginner event hosts lots of money
- Growing your event and getting celebrities to speak for free
- How Card Party really started—the backstory I didn't know about
- The logistics of a Pokémon event versus business conferences
- Wins, mistakes, and what's coming next year at Card Party
- The value of starting small and tips for beginner event hosts
- Subscribe to Unstuck—my weekly newsletter on what's working in business right now, delivered free, straight to your inbox
- Connect with Pat on Twitter and Instagram
SPI 709: What Most People Aren't Doing That You Should
Dan Franks: That year that you keynoted was like our most stacked lineup because we had you and John Lee Dumas from kind of like that business entrepreneurship side of speaking. We had Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial. We had Mark Maron, who had just interviewed Obama. It was, like, a crazy lineup, and we lost so much money that year.
So, like, that was the come to Jesus moment, so to speak was, like, "Hey, this event that was just so awesome and, like, star-studded and all this, like, Whoa, we lost money." And that's where we all kind of took a step back and, put our business hat on instead of our fun hobby hat on.
Pat Flynn: There's something that only a few people are doing out there, but those who are doing it, especially those who are doing it right, are getting incredible results with their business. And results meaning a ton of brand loyalty, a ton of exposure, a ton of authority in the space, ton of growth. And if those are things that you are interested in, well, this is definitely an episode for you.
And we're going to be talking with Dan Franks. Now, Dan Franks is somebody who I got to know a long time ago. In fact, he and his partner, Jared, Put on an event called Podcast Movement. If you've been a podcaster for a while, you know about Podcast Movement. Dan is one of the masterminds behind putting that event together.
And I wanted to bring Dan on because he and I just worked together on Card Party, a big event for my sort of side gig over in the Pokemon space that was tremendously successful as well. And now we're seeing even more opportunity, more growth and yes, it was difficult to put together, but the opportunities are right in front of us for many niches, for many markets.
And we want to talk with you today specifically about Dan's journey, getting started, what mistakes he made and what he would do differently if he were starting over today, specifically with creating live events. And as you'll hear in this episode, a live event doesn't necessarily mean you need thousands of people.
I know that can be very intimidating. But like many of us, we start with just a few. And we're gonna talk about Dan's start, we'll talk about Card Party as well, and all the things that went well, all the things that we want to do better. And this will be a fun behind the scenes insight into podcast movement, into Card Party.
And Dan and I have been working together for very closely now for the last year. And now we're putting together card party Gen 2 so you'll hear a lot of what's going on anyway. Thank you. And appreciate you being here for session 709 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. This is Dan Franks over at Podcast Movement.
Enjoy the show.
Announcer: You're listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host. He still hasn't gotten a deal with 3M yet for all the posted notes he uses. Eh, but maybe one day. Pat Flynn.
Pat Flynn: Dan, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you for being here, man.
Dan Franks: Thanks, Pat. A dream come true. Long time coming. First time we connected was almost 10 years ago. So it's funny to be able to do this now.
Pat Flynn: Dude, that's crazy. And now you and I are working very closely together on another event that you and I both put on called Card Party.
And we'll get to that in a little bit. But what's really interesting is you have invited me on your stage several times. I've keynoted Podcast Movement a couple times, and it's just been such a amazing journey to be a part of that with you. And now you're on my stage, my virtual stage, the podcast, and I'm excited to dive into your story a little bit.
So I'd love to learn about where this all started for you. What's your background and how did you get into events in the first place?
Dan Franks: Yeah. So, I mean, you're, you are involved in this depending, I don't know how much of that, you know, or not, but I, my background is accounting. So I'm a, I'm a CPA, still certified, haven't practiced in a while.
Spent nearly 10 years doing taxes, mainly small business taxes, and through that, one of my co workers and I decided to start a podcast, and that happened over lunch when we were talking about podcasts we listened to and podcasts we liked, and yours was the common ground between Joe Cassandra, that's his name, he's kind of a little Twitter celebrity now, but he and I started talking and decided like, hey, we can, we can kind of do what Pat does, but we can do it different so that we're not copying Pat like some of these other shows we've seen.
So we decided to start a podcast and that was 2012, 2013. And through that we had you on the show and that was my first personal connection to you. And then through that, that podcast we had, we started going to New Media Expo, which you were heavily involved with at the time, 2013, 2014, those years. And that's where I met, or kind of reconnected with Jared Easley, who was one of the co founders of Podcast Movement. And that's the event where we were looking around and we're like, wow, there's a lot of podcasters here, but there's a lot of content for bloggers. And that's where we noticed that disconnect at New Media Expo in 2014 was, there needs to be something like this, but for podcasters specifically.
And, you know, not to get too far ahead of it, but that's where the idea of Podcast Movement came from. And then it just took off from there.
Pat Flynn: That's incredible. I mean, It was obvious that podcasting was growing quite quickly, but nobody had really stepped up to create, like, the de facto podcasting event yet.
And so you saw that opportunity and you decided, hey, let's go and create it. So what happens at that point, you and Jared are like, hey, let's do this thing. Like, how do you even begin to wrap your head around, like, how to put something like that together? Because you hadn't had, really, event experience prior to that. So what did you do? How did you make it work?
Dan Franks: Yeah, you know, we we all kind of went with the ready fire aim approach in that sense. Just saw something we wanted to do and just decided to do it. And probably our ignorance was a good thing that we didn't know what we were getting into. But it was Yeah, myself, Jared Easley and then a gentleman named Gary Leland and Mitch Todd.
The four of us were the ones who thought We're kind of there that first year in Dallas trying to plan everything. So yeah, that was January and 2014 New Media Expo where we came up with this idea. And by February, it was actually February 14th, easy to remember. Cause it's Valentine's day. That was when we launched the Kickstarter to raise money for that first Podcast Movement.
So, I mean, it was like, it was just over a month from the time we were in Vegas like thinking of this to going live with like, hey, we're doing this give us money. And you know, the interesting thing was none of us was Pat. None of us was the big names then Cliff Ravenscraft, John Lee Dumas, Andrew Warner like those were all people we wanted involved, but like none of us were them and none of them were endorsing it or promoting it.
So this was really as grassroots as it gets in the sense of, Hey, here's four random guys who are somehow tangential to this podcasting world who have this idea now give us money. We've never done events before. We're not known in podcasting really, but give us money and we'll do this thing. So yeah, from that point on, it was just learning as we go, flying by the seat of our pants, figuring out how to run an event.
And the closest thing I had done was I planned my wedding. My wife didn't do it, I did it. And I do remember that several people were like, Oh, you should, you should consider doing this for a living. This was a really good wedding that you put together. And I was like, well, I'm not gonna be a wedding planner.
But little did I know, like, there's, there's some similarities to what I, I ended up doing.
Pat Flynn: What made your wedding special from a planning aspect, I'm curious, do you think?
Dan Franks: Not what made it special but what made it difficult was our venue that we were supposed to be at shut down like a few months before our wedding and anyone who's planned a wedding knows sometimes you plan these like over a year in advance so we had everything lined up for this one location and then a few months out it's like oh that location's not there so we ended up having to find this kind of warehouse photo studio type place that had no set up for a wedding and work with all kinds of vendors to pull together the furniture and the lighting and, and everything that was supposed to be provided by the original venue.
And so I guess that was what made it special was it was, it was nothing. And then it was something.
Pat Flynn: That's cool. That's amazing. Okay. So first year of Podcast Movement, how many people were there? How did you even get people there? Kickstarter, I remember that now I'm curious how much money did you raise and I'm just if you are willing to share what it took to put that on as far as cost.
And I just want to know kind of like what happened. So how many people cost and how much did you raise on Kickstarter?
Dan Franks: Yeah, I mean, that's another ignorance is bliss kind of situation. So we we thought, okay, if we could just raise, I think it was like five or 10,000, then we'll be able to host this event.
Like we thought we had found a venue and we thought we had like price things out. And we're like, cool, this is what we need to run this event. And good thing was we like tripled what we were trying to get to. So we ended up getting over 30,000 raised, which we're like, wow, we've, we've got a made right?
Like we thought we needed five or 10,000 and we've tripled that. Like, like we'll, we'll be able to roll in this, but what happened was the venue that we thought we needed for, you know, a couple hundred attendees, we ended up needing like three times that size. So we ended up having almost 600 attendees.
So we had to change venues like two or three times leading up to it. Just cause we kept outgrowing what we were, where we were going to do it. I mean, yeah, so to answer your question, we ended up like 550 to 600 people. It's not bad. No, it was, it was really good, like more than we expected, more than anyone expected.
And I, I don't remember like money. I remember it was. Basically break even but one of the cool things coming out of it was was we had invited you to speak you weren't able to and I think there was probably a little bit of like wait and see from not just you a lot of people that we invited to speak in that 2014 event but then we from there we invited you like even before that event actually happened once like people started talking about it and people could tell okay this actually might be something legitimate I was looking back through emails we invited you a few weeks before you that 2014 event to be the keynote speaker for 2015.
So then at the event, we could announce like, Hey, come back next year. There will be a next year. And you know, here's who the headliner is for next year. That was kind of like that strategic thing. And a little bit of that validation before it happened. Now, I'm sure if it flopped or something, there would have been, you know, some fallout from that.
But, but to answer the original question, while we didn't make a lot of money, there was enough evidence there that like, okay, this is something that like we can, as long as we break even can, can keep going into the future.
Pat Flynn: Oh yeah. And I remember coming to the event in 2015 and that was magical. That was my first time really being the headliner at a big event and doing the keynote and I wanted to bring something special.
That was in, was that? That was in Fort Worth. That was in Fort Worth. Oh, okay, right, right, right. Yes. There was just, you know... At that point, it felt like it was a real event. I know the first year was sort of like a test and an experiment, but very quickly it was validated. And then of course, the next year, how many attendees did you have in year two versus year one?
Dan Franks: We doubled that year. So we were almost 1200 that second year in Fort Worth and the financials didn't work out that well. That time we kind of got ahead of ourselves and that was that year that you keynoted was like our most stacked lineup because we had you and John Lee Dumas from kind of like that business entrepreneurship side of speaking.
We had Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial, who was like, that was like, the year. That's right. We had Mark Maron, who had just interviewed Obama. We had Aisha Tyler, who was a huge comedian podcaster there, still is. I mean, it was, it was like a crazy lineup, and we lost so much money that year. So like, like, we're like, after that first year, we're like, okay, we know what we're doing now.
Like, now we can just blow it out. And then. Like, the bad thing is, my background as an accountant, for whatever reason, I just never saw that in those early years as a business, I never saw Podcast Movement as a business, it was like a fun thing we were doing, so I just, like, the same approach that I would talk to all my clients about on the accounting side, like, I just didn't take that approach in those early years of the event, just because, like, I wasn't trying to make money, therefore, therefore, I proactively wasn't like trying to figure out how to not to lose money. And yeah, like we got so backwards in that event and it was like the most amazing event in terms of the lineup and the, you know, we threw, we paid for a big party, like all this stuff. And then when we're reconciling the end of the year, it's like, Oh my gosh, we like have to put money into this thing.
So yeah, that was like the kind of, you know, come to come to Jesus moment, so to speak was like, Hey, this, this event that like, was just so awesome and like star studded and all this, like. Whoa, we lost money. So that was a, that was a learning experience for sure. And that's where we all kind of took a step back and, and got into the, you know, put our, our business hat on instead of our, like our fun hobby hat on.
Pat Flynn: I remember that year, Aisha, I got to meet her. She was amazing, and I recognized her from, she was a, a, a guest star on Friends actually. And it was just like, I was like, how did you in year two get all these big names in? Was it, was it, literally throwing money at them and saying, Hey, we'll pay you to come.
And that's where a lot of the money issues came from.
Dan Franks: Yeah, it absolutely did. So that was, I think that's when podcasting was really getting into the mainstream. And what was happening at that point was all these podcasters were now hiring agents and these agents were representing these podcasters. So, you know, instead of like going to a podcaster and just trying to figure out like how to make it work for them at this event that they might like want to be a part of anyways. And now it was like, okay, this is like a revenue source for me because instead of doing a standup show at this night, I'm going to go do a speaking gig, but I'm still going to get paid as if I were doing a business transaction.
So that was the first year we noticed that where it was like, Hey, all these podcasters are now like Hollywood people, so to speak.
Pat Flynn: How much does it cost to hire? If I'm going to put on an event and it requires like celebrities, you know, that you see on TV and stuff to come or famous podcasters or whatever it might be like, what range are we talking about as far as like how much they would ask for?
I mean, obviously if you're getting somebody like Obama to come and speak at your event, I mean, that's going to be hundreds of thousands, but like a celebrity, I'm curious, like what range were you paying these, these guys?
Dan Franks: Probably, and this was, you know, and I can, I can explain how we, how it works now a little bit more, but back then, I mean, it was anywhere from 10 to 40,000 for a, you know, 30 minute talk.
Some of them were like Sarah Koenig from Serial, her talk was like a canned talk. It was just, she was taking that talk on the road and doing it in different theaters. And she just so happened to do it at Podcast Movement. Wow. I didn't even know that. Yeah. So that, that was more of a show than like a, a special for Podcast Movement kind of thing.
But you know, it was, it's interesting kind of seeing this, this how this thing works in different waves and kind of a cycle here, and I don't say this to brag, but I say this now, like our arrangement with speakers is different now, because oftentimes now networks will come to us and say, Hey, we have this celebrity podcaster that we really kind of want involved or we have this new talent that we just signed that we'd love to have involved. So now kind of that that onus and that payment i'm imagining is happening either on that network side as like hey, we're getting spotlight on our person or it's just built into their contract that they're going to do a certain number of things. So for instance several years ago We had Will Ferrell keynote Podcast Movement Evolutions in Los Angeles, which like for me was like I won't even call that a bucket list.
It's like nothing that I would have put on my bucket list because but he had just launched a podcast network inside of iHeart and iHeart's like, hey, it would be really cool while we're in Los Angeles to get one of our bigger names on stage. And I was like, heck, yeah, to Will Ferrell. So to your question, like having Will Ferrell speak if we went to his agent would, I would guess, be six figures if it was even something we could get, whereas in this instance, it was not.
They were coming to you. Yeah. So, so that's kind of how, how it's turned. So people, we'll sometimes look at our lineup up and be like, Oh my gosh, like you're paying these speakers so much and sometimes we are because if we proactively invite somebody, then it's a typical speaker payment arrangement. But if it's coming to us, not so much.
And you can't really tell the difference from the outside.
Pat Flynn: Now that's something you can't do in the early days of an event typically because you don't have that name yet or it's not known as sort of the de facto event. At what point in the journey of Podcast Movement did it did it start to really feel like holy crap, this is like the big event that everybody is gonna be going to every year. And this is this is like more than just for fun now. This is a real serious thing I know you started taking it seriously after you saw the money loss after year two, but when in your mind was it like this is like Comic Con now for podcasters.
Dan Franks: Yeah, I would say so, 2015 was that year we had the big loss. And I would say like 2017, 2018 was the year where it really started to feel different. Where we started going from kind of a gathering of friends, and then that grew into a gathering of friends and people that know those friends. Until it became like, hey, there's more people here that I don't know, that I don't recognize, that I've never heard of then there are people that I do know, like that first year, everyone who was there, I either knew their podcasts, I knew their name, or I, I knew something about them. So it was kind of when the tides turned to where, okay, now there's more people here. I don't know. Yeah. And to be like more people here who don't know me, which is fine.
Cause I've never like tried, none of us have tried to be like the face of it. We've kind of wanted the brand to stand on its own, but still people kind of recognized us. And then when I got to the point where I could walk down the hall and nobody knew, Hey, there's. The guy who's the president or whatever you want to call it of the event.
That was where it was like, okay, this is like a much bigger thing than just us putting on something fun.
Pat Flynn: What values does Podcast Movement have for your event that allow it to have the feel that it does? You know, there's a lot of events that happen and they're not very well run or it's just not a great experience.
I'm curious, like what, what values did you and your team and your other members of your, your squad kind of come at it with to ensure that it continued to remain this this great event. I know a lot of events that started off great, too. And then just like, you know, they get so persuaded by money or there's too many spots like it totally changes the feel.
But over the years, despite Podcast Movement growing beyond sort of just group of friends, it still feels like it's great, a worthwhile event to go to, how did you approach the event as it was growing to ensure that it was still within your values and still something that, you know, would be valuable to the community?
Dan Franks: Yes. I mean, I think the first thing we did was like, make sure it was actually a good event, a well run event to start with. So those first few years there was tons of logistical issues. So longer lines to pick up badges and disorganization and things like that. But the concept and the newness kind of dragged it through and kept it going. But at some point, it's like, okay, these aren't the this isn't a new event. They're not just learning like this is something that's legit. So making sure that logistics were were smooth and this is all like the team. We've assembled an awesome team and this is all thanks to them, but making sure that badge pickup is smooth and entry and exit is smooth and try to do our best in terms of signage and communication, making sure everything starts on time.
That was huge. If we say that the keynote session starting at 8:30. Then at 8:30, that opening reel better be running or else than everything else, the rest of the day is affected. So like, that's a huge thing. So all of those things, making sure first and foremost, it's an event like that's, that's well run.
But then beyond that, something that's been very important to us as the events evolved from that gathering of friends to, you know, more corporate feel is that like we wanted the entire ecosystem of podcasting and podcasters to feel welcome at the event. So even though, okay, wow, now Spotify and Apple are hosting, like they're off sites in conjunction.
Like, okay, that's very corporate-y, but also like, Hey, the same ticket that they're buying is the same access that they're getting to the event is the same access that anyone that's a podcaster can buy and get access to. So that was huge for us was to make sure nobody was excluded from anything we were doing.
And, you know, you, you have an executive from a big network sitting in a session next to somebody who has a bird call podcast or, or something like that. And they're like talking with one another and like kind of mixing with one another and like that type of thing. We never want that to go away as the events evolved.
And some people might say. Okay. It's not an, it doesn't feel like an event for me anymore. That will just happen always as events evolve. Sometimes people will feel like they're more included and sometimes they'll feel like there may be less included. We want to proactively try to make sure it's an event that anyone involved in the ecosystem can come to and feel and be a part of.
So that's kind of been the biggest thing is just kind of proactively like trying to design it that way. And again, naturally the different things in the industry and, and things will pull it in other directions. But we're trying at least.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I love it. And since you and I started working together on Card Party, it's been very clear that the organization that you and your team bring to an event is of utmost importance.
I mean, people saw it and felt it and experienced it at Card Party, and that was one of the comments that we got. More than anything was like, this was just such a well organized event. It didn't feel like a first year event. And then I tell people, well, it was the first year of Card Party, but it was Dan and his team's, I don't know, 10th year of doing this.
And, and how many events are you and your team running per year now? Because you're not just Podcast Movement anymore and you're not just obviously Card Party. You're you, you have an event management, essentially company now. And I'd love to know kind of when that all started to happen because you know, you could very easily just stick with the Podcast Movement and do that for the rest of your life perhaps, but what made the change and what was that change?
Dan Franks: Yeah, so I think in 2017 is when I left my day job at that point I was working for Mid Roll Media doing some of their event type things. That's when I was like, okay I'm quitting this because podcast movement is like a real thing that could pay bills and could be a career, you know, move and Jared, my co founder, did the same thing. So we both went all in. So at that point, it's like, okay, now it's time to actually build a team. Like we're kind of accidental event people, but we need like real event people to help elevate us. And that's where the team came along. So Chris Hartnett's the first one who joined.
He's someone that had worked with us on a contract basis. And we were able to have him come on full time. And then almost everyone we've added since then has been somebody who worked with us part time, worked with us on a contract basis. And we were like, hey, this person is like really good, a really good events person, can continue to level up.
So every, that's kind of how we've grown is very organically. We've never gone out and been like, hey, we need to hire four people to run our event. So that's how we were able to grow from doing our own one event. And then we expanded to doing our own two events, and that's when some people in the podcast space started coming to us and saying, Hey, can you, can you run our events?
So a few things that we picked up that way was something called the Pod Front. So anyone who's familiar with, with Upfronts and like the TV industry where TV networks will unveil their new shows coming out in the fall and then try to get advertisers excited to buy ads on those shows. Podcast industry decided to do that and asked us to be the producers of that.
So that was our first. That's cool. That was our first experience of like doing something that wasn't ours for other people, but it was still tangential to podcasting through those connections, the, the Ambie awards, which the podcast academy puts on and has been putting on since I think 2021, they asked us to produce their award show.
We had produced our own award show for several years, so we had some experience. But then we started doing that every year, and, and now it kind of follows around our Evolutions event every spring. The night before that kicks off, the, the Ambie Awards take place. This past March, and we were in Las Vegas at the theater that Elvis performed at for years and years and years, the International Theater. That's where we hosted the Ambie Awards and our team put that together. And that was, it's like a theater stage show. That's very different from Podcast Movement, but most people are surprised to learn like it's our same team that does our conference, but they're producing this award show, this high production award show.
So that was cool. So those were all of the things we were doing all still tangential to podcasting. But when we started discussing doing Card Party, that was the first time it was like, Oh, okay, this is something that's not podcasting. Similar to what we do, but such a different audience, such a different market, such a different subject matter.
I feel like that was our first time to kind of step out of our, our, our safety net, our, our comfort zone and do something special. So, I mean, yeah, at this point we've got those things going on, but still very close. We don't consider ourselves like a production company for hire is something that we have to feel very close and connected to for us to hate to say, get excited about participating in.
But that's that's where we're at.
Pat Flynn: I'm curious because I remember last year you reached out to me. You're like, Hey, Pat, are you running any events? And I know there was some connection because I'm a podcaster and I'm sure that you had expected that I was going to be creating another Pat Flynn entrepreneur sort of based event, which would have made sense for your team.
But when I said, well, not really, you know, I tried FlynnCon and that didn't work out long term because of the pandemic. And just, I decided to scrap that even though it was a great experience. There was this Pokemon channel and I had this idea in the back of my head to create an event for the for the Pokemon community there. What made you say yes to working with me on that because that's that's totally out of left field like you said so I'm curious what was going through your mind and why you decided to take a chance with me on that.
Dan Franks: Okay, so this one would 100 like I don't know what you call it like fate or or whatever that is but like I literally and this was you know coming out of the pandemic things were starting to get a little better and I was like for some reason, I was like, I wonder what Pat's up to, you know, as you like, change your listening habits and stuff, you don't listen to the same shows you did, and I was like, I haven't, like, checked in and seen what Pat's doing in a while, and that's when I found you were doing Deep Pocket Monster, and you had that YouTube channel that was, like, growing, like, it wasn't super early on, but it was, you know, smaller than it is now, and yeah, that's I can't remember if I like subscribed and then put on alerts and you were doing something live and there was a chat and it was like a Q& A type thing or people were asking you questions and you were responding and at that time, the one I tuned into someone asked like, Oh, have you thought about doing like an event for your channel or something like that?
Wait, I didn't know this. Yes. Someone asks, like, have you ever thought about, and you said, well, you're like, we did an event and you know, it was difficult. I'm not, not sure if that's something we're going to do, like never say never, but you know, it'd be a lot of work. And then you moved on to the next question.
And when I heard that, I was like, like, not right away, but like a few days later Jared and my, my co founder and partner in Podcast Movement and I were talking and we're always just like brainstorming ideas and I was like, you know, here's something weird, you know, Pat is doing this thing now. And he's like, why is Pat doing Pokemon?
I was like, I don't know, but that's doing Pokemon now. And I told him about that comment and he's like, well, let's let's Jared's like, let me reach out to Pat. And I was like, okay, it can't hurt. And that's where it all started was like, yeah. That check in, and me looking at that time and hearing that, and that's what triggered it all.
So yeah, that's, that's kind of the, the weird, random way that it all got rolling.
Pat Flynn: I did not know that. That is so cool to hear. That that, it was kind of randomly fate that that, that happened. But yeah. Even then, like, obviously Pokémon is way different than what it, what it is that you guys were used to doing.
Was there a... a yearn for something new? Was there a need on your team to just mix things up a little bit? Or, or was it just kind of just, let's just gamble and see what happens.
Dan Franks: There definitely was. We had actually, because we had assembled this awesome team and then we had assembled such an awesome team that there was like slower parts in the year for lack of better term.
So it's like, okay, we've got this team, but we have the capacity to do more so that we were looking around and we had looked into maybe doing like some government events because governments we were told by this advisor this consultant or something that government will pay a lot of money for for vendors to do things and like pay over market so we kind of got sucked into this idea of like bidding on these events to try to produce them and we kept losing these bids and losing these bids and finally we kind of took a step back and we're like are we going to get excited for doing a conference for like the plumbing industry are we going to get excited and like We're like, okay, are we doing that for, for the money or for fun?
And like, so that's when we kind of took a step back and we're like, okay, we can do other things. We do want to do other things, but it needs to be something that's not driven by like just the business motive. It's got to be something that we will have fun participating in. So that's kind of why we were going down that path anyways of brainstorming things to do.
Pat Flynn: That's cool. Now that we're on the opposite end of Card Party, I mean, it was a lot of planning, new stuff that I've never been involved with, obviously, so it was really neat to sort of be involved with the team in the way to see how, like, the sauce is made, it just so happened to be my own ingredients, if you will, but it was fascinating, and it sounds like you guys had some fun, like, I heard from Jess on your team and several others that they were just, this was like the most fun they've ever had at an event, and you know, I think that that Is what a lot of attendees said as well, and I think what was amazing was we were able to almost combine like your world of business and organization of events, and also my experience at those kinds of events too, as a speaker, as a, as a person who gets invited to speak at a lot of those events, I, I see it a lot. I see a lot of things that maybe just regular attendees don't. So I get to experience it and I get to experience it as a creator or a speaker there. So I know what that sort of part is like as well, but all that that you have to bring combined with just the nerdiness and fun of Pokemon. Like let's let's smash these things together. And it was cool because we came at it Where it was just like, let's just build the event that we would all want to attend. You know, it was like, we did some research and we went to other events to kind of explore what those were like, and they were all basically the same, a large venue with a lot of vendors and it's by cell trade.
There might be a panel here. There might be some activities. If there's any celebrities, they're usually behind some red velvet rope and you have to pay to get them to autograph your thing or take a picture and it's just like long lines comic con style. But we wanted to provide a space where very similar to what you said earlier about podcast movement and the values you had there like let's, let's put all these people in the room and like, we're all the same kind of people. We all speak the same language, whether you are a YouTuber with millions of subscribers or just a person who's just entered the hobby. Like, let's all, we're, we're all the same kind of people. We're all humans who just are nerds about this thing called Pokemon.
And we were able to create a completely different experience for people. I mean, I told you and the team this, and I've gotten a lot of feedback myself about this, people who go to these collection events all the time came up to us and said. I've never experienced anything like this before and because they're so used to it being a certain way so that was really neat to kind of bring something new and what was the thought process that you and your team had coming into a brand new space like Pokemon but having your event experience coming into it like what was your approach what were you telling yourselves and how did we set ourselves up for success here.
Dan Franks: Yeah, I think when we first started, we very much took the approach of like, okay, we're going to stay in our lane and we'll let Pat stay in his lane. And that's how this like partnership will be like, we've, we know how to run events. We know how to run the logistics of events. We can go a few different ways based on like the vision, but ultimately like we, we can do what we can do and Pat will do what he does.
And I think where it really got fun was where like the line started getting blurred and maybe fun and like having to build a little bit of trust there as well, where we started kind of veering into each other's lanes. So I think that's where it really got, got a little more interesting and maybe created a little, like, either apprehension or just unsureness on both sides of like, Oh, okay. Like, you know, we, we know how to do events like our, our planning documents, everything looks like they've looked like for years, but the actual, what that manifests in the event is going to look completely different. And that's where we started.
Like I said, it got, it got a little exciting and fun for, for us was starting to stray out of our comfort zones a little bit. So, I mean, I think that was our approach was just, Hey, we know how to do events. We can, we can do this event too. And ultimately, like, yes, a lot of the things, if people went to a Podcast Movement and then went to card party, they would notice some similarities and, and structure and like organization and logistics, there was like zero crossover, which was awesome.
It's like, Hey, cool. We can, you know, do the same thing for a different group of people and get a completely, like a very successful result, but a different result. And I think that's. I at least didn't realize how much fun it would be doing the event until actually being there. Because like I said, the planning process, all the logistics, like it looks the same on paper.
It looks the same on computer programs. You know, we have our, our different documents, but then actually being there and just seeing like the excitement and that's nothing to take away from like Podcast Movement, but Podcast Movement is very much closer to a B2B event where, you know, people that are to conduct business or network more as this, you know, there were certainly some of that, but like, people were there to have fun, and like, make the most of their time, and like, just actually being there and doing it was, like I said, a very pleasant surprise, and like, made it even more exciting on site, and then planning for the future.
Pat Flynn: Dude, it was such a, like, honestly, it's like a life changing event for me, and I think it was the same for a lot of attendees. And for you and the team not having really any experience with Pokémon, I'm curious to know your thoughts now, post event, like, are you... Into Pokemon now? Are you exploring it? Are you and your kids doing anything with that?
I'm curious. There were so many attendees who came, like adults who came with their kids, and they came because their kid is into the channel and into Pokemon, and they're like, yeah, I'll chaperone. And now those people are into it, and they're, like, they had a good time, and they were making friends, and they were opening packs and stuff.
So how are you feeling now about Pokemon because the planning process you're right like it's just the same on paper But now that you experience the event and got to literally be in the community for a short moment Like how are you feeling now?
Dan Franks: Well, first I discovered through the process that several members of my team had more Pokemon knowledge than maybe they let on. Like as we're planning and like they would like drop a word and it's like wait I don't know that word or I don't know that character.
I don't know that terminology and you do. And I thought we were on the same page here. So so there's a little bit of that where it's like, Oh, okay. Maybe they're younger. They're younger experiences started coming through, but like, no, for me personally now, I'm like, Oh, what's, you know, what's Pat's latest video?
Like what? What's this collection? He's like opening now and my wife will be like, Oh, are you into Pokemon now? Like kind of like being funny, but also like, Hey, these are, these are like fun videos to watch. So she doesn't mind when I put them on. That's awesome. But yeah, totally. And I, and I brought both of my daughters there.
I told them they couldn't come until the second day because I was like, okay, you guys, you got to stay away while things are like the hectic first few days, but they came and they both went home with some stuffed animals and some packs. And that's something else that I noticed about this community is like how, how giving it was. Like my girls, one of them was walking around with like a stuffed Pikachu and like she'd go to random like vendor tables and they'd be like, Oh, I got a card for you. And they'd give her a Pikachu card or, or my other daughter was like super into Jigglypuff. And so I was like, Oh, I saw a Jigglypuff in the, in the bulk bin.
So they went and like dug, dug through it and found it for like, not even ask, just like proactive. And it was like, so cool to have that, whether it was other attendees that were just being like nice to other people, whether it was the vendors that were just doing that just to, you know, just to make sure people there have a good time.
That was really cool. And like you said, with the emails we got after of a dad who happens to be a teacher, and went with his son and they learned they learned how to play Pokemon like they went to the the turn they played in the tournament and went to some of the training and then the dad went back and decided like he was going to start doing this as an activity with his class so he was starting to buy cards and buy packs so that he could then like integrated in his, in his studies next semester, like that kind of thing was really cool and it's just stories that like you don't know what's going to come out of these events, but hearing those stories after it was just like really awesome and, you know, made, made an event that, you know, logistically went well and it just takes that to a whole nother level.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. And it'll be exciting to see what happens for Gen 2. We're in the middle of scouting a location right now. The demand is really high. What's also really cool is because we featured a lot of the creators in this space, and especially the smaller creators, I mean, they're the ones stepping up to really talk about it all the time now, which is amazing.
And, and that was all a part of what I knew the experience would be like for, like a speaker at an event. I've gone to events where nobody paid attention to me at all. And it's just like, okay, well, I guess I'm just coming to speak. And then other events where I'm not even the biggest speaker there, there's like bigger names, and I'm treated like royalty.
And that made me fall in love with that brand and those companies even more. So we wanted to go the latter route, and a lot of those creators have published videos and are still talking about it, are inviting their fans to Gen 2, and are doing some special events in and around whenever that happens, wherever that happens.
It's just really neat to see and it's becoming this sort of event that people can now look forward to every year where they can come together and really meet the people that they all talk with online all the time, but in person. I think that that's what was special about Podcast Movement for me over the years as I've gone is that's where I get to meet my friends in person and hang out and have coffee with them, have dinner with them, be on stage with them, be in the crowd with them. And I think that's something we all as humans sort of just continually yearn for, and as more and more things go online, as more and more communities are built online, I still think there is... Necessity for the in person event. And, and hopefully this encourages you to, as a listener to perhaps even think about how you might be able to, to run one of these things, whether it gets to be as large as Card Party or Podcast Movement, or even just a small event in your community with five people, 10 people, there's just something special.
As we finish up, Dan, you know, it wasn't all perfect. Nothing is, but we definitely made some mistakes and learned a lot. And I wanted to end with this because I think it's important to show that, you know, you don't have to be perfect in order to run a successful event. Maybe we can go back and forth for a little bit, but what were some of the things that you think we could have improved on or maybe made mistakes about in year one that we can sort of hash out and do better in year two?
Dan Franks: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it was just the learning of like, hey, we have this new event for this new community. We don't know exactly what they want. We don't know exactly where they're going to see the value in. So for example, one of my takeaways was because Podcast Movement is so content focused and we have so many things happening on stage because that's what people want was that like, hey, we just need stage stuff happening all the time. Lots of seats. things for people to sit and watch, but then as the event went on, it's like, Oh, okay, these attendees are more excited to kind of like what you were just saying, be around each other, get to know each other, meet their friends, hang out with their friends, create content with their friends.
And yes, they wanted the opportunity to go to some panels and hear some, you know, things on stage, but they didn't want that all day, every day. So that was takeaways for me is like, Hey, this is how this event is different is people want to interact. There was times we had a stage in the expo, which was a small stage.
You know, we kind of considered a secondary stage and then our main stage, which was going to be kind of our bigger name sessions and panels and stuff. A lot of times people gravitated toward that small stage, not because what was actually happening, but just, it was such a more lively area. So that was one of my first big takeaways just from like the event production standpoint was like, hey, maybe there's a different need or desire from this type of event than what we're used to.
Pat Flynn: For sure. Take away that I had was some of the larger named youtubers that came, you know, they might need a little bit more protection, if you will. Nothing terrible happened, but you know, they could get swarmed and we're lucky that no really incidents happened this year.
But as the event continues to grow, I want to make sure that our creators are safe and having them with handlers or some security or something just to kind of keep them safe is, is really important to me because if we don't do that, then eventually the event will turn into what those other events are, which is okay.
The creator's behind a table and it's one person at a time. And there's like a, a boss man there who's like directing traffic and you only get one second with them. And we don't want it to go down that direction. And so keeping those people in mind and keeping their safety in mind, cause they stepped up.
I mean, I, I was so surprised. Actually, I'm not surprised, but I was very pleased that, you know, we had the space where the creators could go to sort of like escape if they needed to and spend some time away from the crowds. Every time I went in there, it was mostly empty. The creators were In the middle of the crowds, signing autographs, and taking pictures, like, unprompted, no payments necessary, and it was just such a fun thing to see, and so many people appreciated that, I mean, I had so many people talking about the fact that there's one creator, Danny Phantom, who is literally on the hotel floor trading with kids for three hours straight, and several parents just saying, Danny, that was amazing, thank you, and like, this made my son's year, and all that kind of stuff, and Pokey Rev, who's like, one of the bigger names, His meet and greet line was like four hours, and he sat there for every single person because he wanted to, and I talked to him afterwards, and he was like, that was amazing, like, thank you for putting this together, and it just like made my heart so happy, so, but I want to keep them happy too as the event grows.
Dan Franks: Yeah, no, that's a good one. Another one was speaking of keeping people happy is I didn't realize how Like, because when we talked about it, it was like, okay, fans, creators, collectors, a little bit of everything there. But our expo hall, our vendor area, was like slammed from the time the doors opened to the time the doors shut.
And we kind of anticipated like the vendor area, I don't want to say it would be secondary, but we were like thinking like, okay, what, what can we do in the vendor area to like get people to go in there? Like we were trying to, you know, sometimes in like bigger expos, it's like, okay, how do you get people into the expo hall?
How do you get them to stay there? Like this was the opposite. We were like, okay, how do we get people out at the end of the day? And how do we keep them out before the doors open? So that's something that we're going to have to go back to the drawing board on. We've already got some ideas of like, okay, how do we add some more hours here?
How do we give these vendors even more value for, for their time and their efforts and their investment being there? That was a big one for me as like, Hey, this, this thing that we thought would be secondary was like a very, very primary focus of the event.
Pat Flynn: For sure. And then, you know, there was a lot of learnings about food, right?
Food is important at events like this. And I'm grateful that there was food available. However, there were some comments about the food and the cost. I mean, the merch might have been a little bit too expensive. And, you know, we're going to readjust for Gen 2 and a lot of this comes from feedback from the attendees and the creators.
And this is something that it's really important to be open to that feedback. I know that me by default after something like this, we'll just want to not hear anything because I'm like tired and I'm exhausted and I'm like, I don't want to hear about anything bad because like, you know, I just just want to walk away from it.
But that's the time, especially to step forward and be like, okay, give it to me. Like, I want to listen. I want to know what what happened and what I could do better for next year. And so we're literally in the middle of that process right now. And we'll be incorporating a lot of things into Gen 2.
What's maybe one thing that we know we want to do again for next year, you think, and why?
Dan Franks: Yeah, we definitely want something that's a centrally located, like, place that people can come. And if they want to come there and stay from, you know, Thursday or Friday all the way through the end of Sunday, like, they can.
So, you know, treat it like we're at this year, like a hotel setting where a lot of people stayed on site and a lot of people wish they had stayed on site. That direction is something that we... Going into the event, we weren't sure, like, hey, does Gen 2 need to be at a convention center? Does it need to be at some other kind of place?
Like, does it really need to be at a hotel? And then, having been there and seeing so many people hang out, like, literally all hours of the night, I don't know when the last person on, you know, Thursday, Friday, Saturday night went back to their room. But like all hours of the night, people were trading on the, like you said, on the floor and every couch, every surface.
So that like reinforced, like, no, no, no. And you and I talked about that pretty early on, like after the event was like, okay, that is a feeling that we want to recreate and keep going. So that was like my, you know, one of my biggest takeaways was like, Hey, that feeling of like, Hey, we're all here. Almost like a summer camp kind of thing that that needs to go on and we can't do anything that like pulls away from that.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, like just a large convention hall is not going to have that same feeling, which makes it more challenging for us. But again, it just shows that we're trying to keep it great as we go along and not just grow because it can grow. I think that's a big problem that a lot of other events have had that I've seen where it just it grows so fast because they can.
And they've proven it. And now it's. It's not even the same thing anymore and, and, you know, people start leaving it. So anyway, we could talk for days about this, Dan, I want to respect your time and I got a lot of things to do as well, but hopefully this was very insightful and inspiring and, you know, informational, educational for everybody listening.
What might be one final tip you have for somebody out there who's like, Oh, this sounds interesting. And I think there's definitely room in my space for it, my niche for it. What's one tip you would have for them as they start to begin to think about creating an event like something like what we've created for their community?
Dan Franks: A start small, but just start. That's very basic, but like podcast movement. And I didn't quite get into this, but like the first thing Jared and I, before we ever did anything at New Media Expo was we did a meetup. He was coming to town. to Dallas for an event. He had a little listener base here and I had a little podcast and he's like, Hey, let's just do this meetup and get people together.
That was the first event Jared and I ever did. I think that was 2012 or 2013. And it's led to this conversation we're having now. So like, like you said, that power of in person events, whether you call it networking, whether you call it, you know, whatever you want to call it. Just the power of like doing something.
And to your point about if anyone wants to start something for their community, for their show, for there's something like, don't be afraid to start small and don't be afraid to do it at a restaurant on a Saturday and not tell the restaurant you're going to do it because they might say no, like just do something, put a free event, right together, put a meetup page together and just see what happens.
Cause you never know where it's going to lead.
Pat Flynn: I love it, man. Dan, thank you so much. Where can people go to follow up on your work or, you know, where do you want to point them to?
Dan Franks: Yeah, everything we do, the big stuff we do is at podcastmovement.com. And then of course, stay tuned to card.party because lots of fun stuff coming there in the the days, months, weeks, years, all that.
Pat Flynn: Thank you, brother. I appreciate you.
Dan Franks: Thanks, Pat.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that podcast and conversation with Dan Franks. Thank you so much for coming on. And it's been really, really a pleasure to, over the past year, get to know you even more. I mean, we've worked together. You've always been really helpful.
That you and your team would do an amazing job with Card Party, but I don't think anybody knew how well organized you and your team are. And if any of you have a chance to go to Podcast Movement, it's an amazing event, especially if you're a podcaster, obviously. But a lot of people who aren't podcasters go there because they want to meet podcasters and those creators and be guests on their show.
And, of course, don't just go there and ask. Go there to serve and befriend people, and those opportunities might happen. Card Party Gen 2 coming up, Card.party if you wanna check it out. Anyway, thank you so much. I appreciate you. If you wanna get all the links and resources mentioned here in this episode, head on over to smartpassiveincome.com/session709.
Again, smartpassiveincome.com/session709. Peace. Thank you so much and be sure to subscribe 'cause we've got a lot of great stuff coming up for you now that we're in the seven hundreds of Smart Passive Income, which is absolutely wild and we're not stopping anytime soon. So I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!