Juice Labs

Vancouver Tech Community
Tech Community Meetup Event

(tLDR version)

Project Overview

Juice Labs is a community committed to developing each other by sharing our skills and knowledge in design, development, and digital marketing. We do this by hosting evening dinner events and inviting local industry experts to share their victories and challenges as well as run workshops to adopt industry best practices. We value being real and authentic and believe that by building each other up, we can help impact the people and businesses we care about.

The Challenge

One of the biggest frustrations people keep saying is how awkward it is when meeting new people at networking events. I was surprised that even seasoned designers who have been in the industry for over 10 years still find it to be true. Based on my local research and conversations with other freelancers in Vancouver, I found that there aren't a lot of places where freelancers can come and learn from each other but instead just did their own thing.

The Solution

I assembled a team and decided to apply UX principles to event planning. We created an event experience that redesigned the way people connected. We wanted a casual environment so people would feel comfortable to be themselves and make it easy to meet new people as well as catch up with old friends. We also decided to start the evening with a warm family style dinner to ease our guests into the environment after a busy day at work. One thing we wanted to give to our guests was something tangible and practical to take home after leaving the event so we try to include an activity or exercise to physically put into practice what the guest speaker was sharing that evening. We didn't want our guests to leave feeling inspired but with no plan of action. After each event, we would receive feedback from our guests saying how interactive and engaging the evening was for them and gained an average rating of 8/10. Not bad from something that started from a simple idea!


UX application to Event Planning | Project Management | Public Speaking

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The Scope

Project Background

Juice Labs was birthed out of a curiosity to "experiment" new ways to connect people together while at the same time inspire others to get their "creative juices" flowing and share their ideas. It started with a simple idea. "What if we can create a community where designers, developers, and digital marketers can come together and share our knowledge and resources to raise the standard in our craft?" The idea quickly picked up momentum and within a year, Juice Labs has successfully hosted 5 evening events with up to 40 participants attending through word of mouth. We bring industry experts as guest speakers to share on topics the community wants to grow in and have a great time meeting new people over a family style dinner.

The Problem

One of the first challenges of entering into a new industry is the lack of connections of people, resources, and knowledge of other disciplines within the field. During the time of my early bootcamp days as a designer, I found it challenging to find enough time to understand what developers and digital marketers did exactly but realized that since our interaction overlapped so often on projects, it would benefit to learn how they think and operate so we can better collaborate. I found that there were plenty of meetup groups within our own disciplines but there weren't a lot of multi-discipline groups to learn from. The more I looked into it, the more I realized how uncomfortable people found networking events to be and the missed opportunity of building collaborative relationships. One fairly new occurrence that is taking shape in the tech industry is the increasing amount of new grads from tech bootcamps flooding into the market and the lack of available resources or platforms for continual professional development.


The purpose and goals of Juice Labs are threefold:

  1. To create a space where other disciplines can cross pollinate and strengthen their understanding of how each discipline holistically works together.
  2. To apply UX principles and redesign the way people connect by creating a casual and welcoming environment where people can genuinely be themselves and not experience all the things that make networking awkward.
  3. To have others connect and collaborate and ultimately impact the people and businesses that matter to us most.

The Design Process

Research & Findings

As the saying goes, "Practice makes perfect". These were lessons we learned along the way as we iterated and improved after each event.

Juice Labs_001 | The Wealth of Giving by Alpha Kirabira
  • Alpha shared on the wealth of giving and how our work can make a positive impact if we focus on being a contribution to others.
  • With the inaugural event, people had no past experience to compare it to so there were no major feedback on improvement at this moment.
Juice Labs_002 | Logo Design by Jenny Lam
  • Jenny shared on do's and don'ts when it comes to logo design and later did a group exercise on creating logos in various forms.
  • We booked the event at a private space at a craft brewery and found that it wasn't financially sustainable to book for future events.
  • We created an initial logo and colour scheme for Juice Labs but knew we had to create a proper brand strategy in the future.
Juice Labs_003 | The Journey of Freelancing by Karen Lo and Brittany Kopetsch
  • This was one of our most favourite events according to regular guests. Karen and Brittany shared their stories of freelancing the the lessons they learned along the way. The Q&A session was very useful for learning valuable advice on freelancing.
  • This was our largest attendance so far and quickly ran out of food due to non-guests coming in to take "free samples". We learned to place the food at a secure location and to ensure early registration for anticipating the amount of food to get for future events.
  • The setup prior to the event was a bit of a last minute rush and I realized that I needed to follow up with team members earlier on to ensure if they have completed preparing for the day of the event.
Juice Labs_004 | Stepping into your PM shoes by Magdalena Blasiak, Andre Moura, and Humad Ali
  • We had a panel discussion with 3 project and product managers who shared on the difference and similarities between the two followed by a Q&A.
  • This was our lowest attendance due to a lack of marketing and advertising. Up until this point, all our attendance has been through word of mouth. We realized that we needed to set up a social media presence and website going forward.
  • Guests were not welcomed and spoken to as much as we have before due to old volunteers leaving and new volunteers not being trained. We realized that we needed to establish a minimum level of commitment and training for future volunteers so we can uphold the "Juice Labs Experience" at our events.
Juice Labs_005 | The Art of Communication by Karina Daukaeva and David Kohler
  • Karina and David shared a powerful session on giving and receiving feedback and distinguished the difference between morality-based feedback and performance-based feedback. This was our first interactive workshop and it was a great success.
  • All the lessons learned along the way from previous iterations finally paid off and this was the event where I felt everything just clicked. We launched our instagram handle (@juicelabscreative) and gained 28 followers on the first night. We were within budget and 90% of participants gave the event a 9/10.
  • Due to the tight schedule to fit in two 1-hour sessions plus dinner and mingling, we didn't do an ice breaker at the start and as a result we received some feedback that new guests found it a little disorienting to relate to others at the start of the event. We've learned how important it is to keep an ice breaker to set the social tone and to plan our schedule more efficiently.
Design Planning

A big part of making these events happen is having a system and being organized with the logistics of planning. This is where the inner nerd in me loves designing the operations of all the tasks on my new favourite app, Notion. It's google drive, notes, and Trello all into one...and then some. Below is an overview of how I created the engine behind Juice Labs.


Prototyping & Testing

Please refer to events above.

Insights Learned

When it all comes down to it, it's all about the people. I learned that although it's important to utilize technology and create systems in place, it's more important to focus on how it can improve the experience of the people. In this case, we applied UX principles to quickly identify the problems people had with networking events and iterated and improved upon the feedback until people was satisfied with the events. At Juice Labs, we'll continually learn to improve and innovate the way people connect.

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