2016 AGM Re-Cap
On Thursday, September 15th, Mamas & Co. held our first Annual General Meeting. The following provides a summary of discussions for those members who could not attend.
We will be celebrating our 2nd anniversary in November (yay!). Mamas & Co. started as a small community stemming from a Facebook post in East Toronto Young Mothers. We had informal meet-ups around a restaurant table with 8 people, then 15, then 20 - 30. 2016 saw us moving to a more formalized schedule with expert speakers and great content. We started charging a nominal fee to help cover costs of running events.
Meet-ups are hosted the first Wednesday of every month, with networking as a key component plus content alternating between business and lifestyle.
This year has been all about experimenting, trying new ideas to see what works and what doesn't. We added Learning Labs to help members get tangible building lessons at low cost; and have tried a few Social Events. Our goal is to have a thriving online discussion with respect and in-person meetings that stay fresh and exciting.
Thanks to Linnea for the hard work on creating our website as a home-base for people to learn more about what we're about and manage our events. Our website went live in May to help facilitate event registration. This became a necessity as we grew larger. We have developed good relationships with local venues, but we had several events with lower than expected attendance and expenditures on food and drink. This lead to some venues not wanting to work with us. Moving to registration online and ensuring our venues received sufficient business has made it much easier to find affordable and willing partner venues.
Nobody has taken an income from Mamas & Co. leadership to-date. As the responsibilities and time commitment has grown significantly, we do hope to pay ourselves in the future.
Our public Facebook page was created to help get our member info out to a wider audience (400+ FB and 900+ IG followers).
Member Survey Results
In August, we issued a member survey to solicit feedback on how we're doing and what you want to see moving forward. Thank you to those who took the time to share your comments! Here's a summary of the results.
- 40 responses.
- Most people are satisfied overall with their experience. We got no "unsatisfied" responses on any questions - which is great!
- We're seeing about 60 - 80% extremely satisfied rates.
- Event timing: Good as it allows for bedtime and to travel for most people.
- Daytime events. We will try it again, but we've run several over the summer and had either low turnout or had to cancel them entirely.
- Central locations - If you have any suggestions please let us know! It is tough to find venues that are affordable so we can keep our costs down. The more central we go, the more expensive venues are and therefore we'd have to increase the cost of events. While we are seeing an increasing number of members coming from the west end, we are still primarily east-enders so we want to try to offer locations that are most accessible to the most people.
- Topic Suggestions: social media, accounting/taxes, business day-to-day, marketing. Also several requests for content especially for new businesses. We are going to be looking at doing a new business bootcamp for winter 2017.
- Online ticketing: There were some great suggestions to improve the event details and email notifications - some of this is limited to our website at the moment, but we will look into making location and cost more clear.
- Live Streaming: We are looking into offering online learning in the future, not sure about the live streaming at this point but will keep it in mind. We understand it can be difficult for moms to get out of the house, but one of the core values is community and we really want to make sure we provide quality events to help you network and grow. So we will try to balance our efforts to deliver quality events, while increasing accessibility.
Networking will continue to be a focus. While our events are for members only, we do allow not-yet-members to try one event before joining. We also plan to continue hosting 2 free meet & mingle events per year (the next one in November).
We are pleased with how the Forum is going and will continue to monitor and promote it as a safe and supportive space. Each new member gets a personal note from us with instructions to join the Forum and info about upcoming events. New members are given the opportunity to introduce themselves.
We have members from Guelph, Barrie, Kingston, and may ultimately franchise into other regions. We want to double our membership in 2017 to increase everyone's network and create the most opportunities for our members. Our primary focus is to make sure the group continues to grow while maintaining our community feel.
Fees will increase, likely in the $40 - $50 range for annual fee, which is still highly affordable compared to other networking groups in the city. Event prices will likely increase slightly as well. We will focus on high quality events during times that more people are available (i.e. scaling back in the summer and holidays).
We will be incorporating in 2016. We won't be entering the Not-For-Profit space at this time, largely due to the increased regulation and requirements.
Our first annual conference, MamaCon, was born out of a dream to provide a day to get around the table and learn from fabulous speakers and celebrate and get excited about our businesses.The following other events are planned for the rest of the year - be sure to check our website for more details and to register!
- October Meet-Up - Your Style and Professional Image + MamaCon
- October Learning Lab - Instagram 101
- October Social - Clothing Swap
- November Meet & Mingle - Free
- November Learning Lab - Setting Sales Targets
- November Social - Kids Cookie Baking
- December Meet-Up - Holiday Party
Mamas & Co. Council
The purpose of the Council is to act as a sounding board and contribute to the group. Lianne "voluntold" a handful of early Mamas & Co. members into an initial council. She wishes to acknowledge and appeciate Heather Kenter, Annie Bernatchez, and Julie O for their time and energy earlier this year. Moving forward, we have issued an application for those interested in joining.
Beth Yarzab spoke a few words about why she'd like to join the council, and Reena Parekh provided an overview which was read by Emma at the meeting. We will be sharing more details about the Council selections this fall.
Q & A
To wrap up the meeting, we had an open forum for members to ask questions and provide feedback. Here are some of the items discussed.
- An idea to do a bit of a networking activity at the start of meet-ups to try to bring back some of the round-table feel of our smaller meetings.
- Question: It seems that the group has the same demographic, young families with young children. Is this true?
- Since the group started out of ETYM, members began as young mothers. We do have some members with older children. We don't have an age restriction.
- We are looking at ways to be more inclusive and maybe host some events for women in general, but our focus for now is for moms.
- How interesting is the group to more established businesses?
- We try to balance the networking and education components that will benefit all levels. Businesses of all ages and experiences can benefit from the collective lessons and networks of others.
- Are you open to non-member speakers?
- If we have an expert in the group, we prefer to use them if they're keen and a great speaker. However, we want to have really great speakers and fresh content so outside speakers are definitely an option.
- Are Learning Labs always Wednesdays?
- No, we try to mix it up on Tuesday or Thursday.
- Have Lawyers been approached to speak?
- Yes, are hoping to book something in 2017.
- Would you consider a referral program?
- We talked about it, but given that word-of-mouth is our primary mode of growth and people are often referred by multiple people, it would be too difficult to implement successfully.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about our AGM. We welcome any feedback, any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're excited what 2017 and beyond has in store, and look forward to sharing in your success! Thank you for being part of the Mamas & Co. Community.
Lianne, Emma, and Linnea