Social Entrepreneurship Akademie (SEA) is a German organisation promoting societal change. It offers a variety of study programmes, workshops and certificates, both offline and online, that are aimed at students and aspiring entrepreneurs. Based in Munich, SEA is educator, incubator and accelerator in one.
In spring 2019, SEA teamed up with BMW Foundation during MünchnerStiftungsFrühling, an event for foundations in Munich. SEA organised both a pitch festival and a subsequent discussion about what failure can mean to startups and projects.
The pitch festival had social initiatives and startups pitch their social change ideas for a chance to win €1,000 as well as support from the SEA incubator. The event was accompanied by a social wall and two hashtags: #msf2019pitch and #msf2019fail.
We had a chat with Anja Graßl, Communication and Marketing Manager at Social Entrepreneurship Akademie, to find out more about the pitch festival and how they used hashtags and the social wall.
Communication and Marketing Manager at Social Entrepreneurship Akademie
We organized a pitch festival about social innovations with a subsequent event on failing in the context of MünchnerStiftungsFrühling 2019. MSF aims to show people how foundations can contribute to a society worth living in and how they enrich life in the city of Munich.
We used our social media wall to provide a platform for all of the social startups and projects that were selected to present their ideas. This way, they and we could communicate with both the audience on-site and the world outside at the same time.
Throughout the whole event, the startups could promote themselves by using our two hashtags #msf2019pitch and #msf2019fail. Their posts then showed up on our huge social media wall situated in the center of our location behind the main stage.
Setting up the social wall wasn’t a big deal at all. We simply provided the technician team at BMW World with the link to our social wall and they set it up for us.
Each of them referred to one of the two parts of our event. In the morning, 20 social startups and projects had the opportunity to present their ideas to a renowned jury and an audience of around 100 people in a 90-second pitch.
This is where the hashtag #msf2019pitch came into play. The project with the highest impact and feasibility won prize money of 1,000 Euros. In addition, we accepted two social startups into our program SEA:incubate, which includes support, counseling and coaching for the projects throughout a longer period of time.
We also organized a session on failure in the afternoon: we gave people the chance to share their failure experience on their way to success with the audience. We did not focus on the downside of failure but tried to look at the opportunities that can arise when choosing the right perspective after an experience of failure. Therefore, the verb fail was included in our second hashtag.
Nevertheless, the startups could and did use both hashtags throughout the whole event.
How did startups react to the fail hashtag? Wasn’t it perceived as negative? Was there hesitation in using it?
The startups used the hashtag #MSF2019fail as well, even though they did use the other hashtag more often. Maybe there was some hesitation in using it in the beginning.
After our session on failure, however, they shouldn’t have perceived the hashtag as negative anymore. We highlighted that the right mindset during and after an experience of failure can lead to more success than the experience of mere achievement.
We had informed them beforehand via email and had also integrated the hashtags in our social media posts which promoted the event.
On top of that, we shared them in our briefing at the beginning of the MSF and displayed them on various posters at the site of the event.
A wall for two events? It can work!
If you’re taking part in a trade show or a bigger event, you’ll sometimes need to cover multiple workshops, talks or events with one social wall. This is easily done by adding multiple hashtags to your wall, the way Social Entrepreneurship Akademie has done with #msf2019pitch and #msf2019fail.
Just keep in mind that this only works if your events are at least topically related. It doesn’t look great if you have two completely unrelated topics on the same social wall.
For those cases, I’d recommend setting up multiple walls, which you can do with the Walls.io Premium account.
Display your wall on a screen and encourage your audience to participate