Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Meetups We Love: Scaling a local meetup into an international conference

Elaine Greenberg (Fastly)
4:15pm4:55pm Thursday, May 11, 2017
Collaboration and Community
Location: Meeting Room 9C
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 3 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Community managers, software engineers, open source contributors, and academic researchers

What you'll learn

  • Understand how to start a successful meetup and how to sustain growth and build a global community


Three years ago, a group of friends started Papers We Love, a meetup focusing on the intersection between the tech industry and academia. Each month, a speaker would discuss an academic paper that inspired them, their career, or their work. Topics ranged from distributed systems to design to physics and math, sometimes incorporating philosophy and history. While the first meetup took place with just over 30 people in New York, the idea of the meetup quickly propagated. It only took a month after the first meetup in New York for a new Papers We Love chapter to start in San Francisco.

Soon after these meetups started publishing their event videos online, more Papers We Love meetups started popping up around the world, first in Toronto and Los Angeles then quickly expanding to London and Stockholm. After just two years, Papers We Love could be found in over 25 cities, each contributing their own flavor and opinion on technology and academia. Three years after the first meetup, Papers We Love Conf took place in September 2016, with over 200 attendees from around the world. The talks yielded hundreds of tweets, thousands of video views, and an excited and energized global community.

Elaine Greenberg delves into how this modest meetup gained such strong traction and sustained incredible growth. It is clear that this community’s success is not a coincidence. There’s a desire to understand and relate to academic and industry research. Elaine explains how the community aims to build a body of resources to help practitioners refine and explore ideas and topics and their connections.

Topics include:

  • How to build a strong brand and strong content on a regular basis
  • The logistics of starting a meetup event
  • Using GitHub has a central, global papers repository and preconference discussion ground
  • How to expand the meetup brand to new cities and countries
  • How to connect with other meetup chapter organizers
  • How to leverage Slack and Twitter to connect with the global meetup community
  • How to raise funds for sponsorship without being an exclusively corporate-backed entity
Photo of Elaine Greenberg

Elaine Greenberg


Elaine Greenberg is the senior communications manager at Fastly and coorganizer for Papers We Love SF. Trilingual in Russian, French, and English, Elaine holds a BA in neuroscience from Wellesley College. In her free time, she obsesses over dogs, textured neutrals, and well-arranged florals.