Hey Japan: Meetup is free (as in beer)

After I arrived in New York last month I got to set up camp at Meetup headquarters for a day and get some work done at an actual desk. This was a welcome change of pace after several weeks of laptop-on-lap nomading. Meetup has beautiful offices in a large loft in Manahattan, complete with a pool table, a banana costume, and a nice south-facing view. I was glad to get to spend some time there.

While I was at Meetup, their International Lead mentioned to me that, for a limited time, it is free for organizers in a Japan to create meetups on their site. As I understand it, organizers usually pay up to $19 a month for the service.

This seems like the perfect time to experiment with the possibilities of using Meetup to organize events in Japan.

Currently, one of the most popular ways of organizing events here is Facebook. If you’re like me and dream of an internet where Facebook is not at the center of things, Meetup offers an interesting alternative.

For events, Facebook creates a social bubble effect in which it’s highly unlikely you will ever have guests to your public events who are not closely related to your social circles. I suspect there are many organizers out there who find this to be a heavy limit on the possibilities.

At the same time, one limit of Meetup in Japan is a small user base when compared to Facebook. While anyone can view and join public events on Meetup, if no one is looking there, it doesn’t matter.

Still, if you can remember back to before 2011, Facebook was relatively unknown in Japan outside of the tech and expat communities. Then almost within a month or two it seemed like everyone had a Facebook account.

There’s no reason why a similar shift in popularity couldn’t happen with Meetup here in Japan, but there are challenges. Before mass awareness can happen, Meetup will still need to get their service localized into Japanese.1 But even with the language barrier, there are already quite a number of meetups in the Kansai region, several with over 100 members.

I for one want to experiment to see if Meetup can mix things up a bit. Since Meetup is offering their service for free in Japan at the moment, this a great time to try it out. I look forward to seeing what everyone does with it.

If you’re thinking about getting a meetup started in Osaka and are looking for a unique space to do it in, consider イタチshelter. We regularly host all kinds of events like parties, music, out-of-gallery art exhibitions, pop-up book stores, and English lessons. The space can be rented by the hour or day, and our rates are very reasonable. We want to help you get your community going.

By the way, イタチshelter’s first foray into Meetup events is the second Coffee and Coding Conundrum. If you code, you are welcome to join the Conundrum.

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  1. If you’re looking for an explanation of how to register for Meetup in Japanese, Yuya Furuhashi has you covered
Hey Japan: Meetup is free (as in beer)
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