On the up · 20 July 2018

From raving with your kids to remembering an old friend: UK’s best independent festivals

“Attendance is always hard to forecast”

Raver Tots

Mike Pickets, founder of Raver Tots – which is hosting its first family festival this August in Garon Park, Southend – explains why cash flow is so important when starting a festival.

When and why did you want to start your own festival?

Oddly, I’d never actually planned to start a festival, it happened through the natural growth of our events. It was a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

What was key in terms of getting started – how were you able to fund it?

Cash flow is key, so by linking our ticketing through a Stripe account we don’t have to wait until after the event for payment.

Trading for a year on club shows has given us working capital and a fan base, and we are sharing infrastructure costs with another organiser who run a separate show on the site the day before.

What market research did you do beforehand?

Nothing beats getting down to other events and seeing with your own eyes. Meeting people in the same line of work and having conversations has been equally as important.

Has it been easy to forecast costs?

Yes as long as you factor in the variables, like the extra staffing costs for increased numbers. Attendance is always harder to forecast as anyone in events will tell you, there are so many factors.

Do local authorities offer enough support to independent festivals?

That’s always going to vary depending on which area you work but it’s all positive reviews of where we are.

What do you enjoy most about putting on a festival?

Once everyone is in and things are running smoothly, taking a moment to look from the stage at the crowd, you can see how much people are enjoying themselves, for me, that’s the most rewarding part.

What festival do you aspire to be like?

We’re quite unique so I’d hope one day people aspire to be like us!

What is the biggest challenge when hosting a festival?

The first thing I was taught when I started out in event management was “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” so you need to be watertight with everything, have back up staff, back up DJ’s, back up suppliers. Everything needs a plan B, and C so you’re covered for all eventualities, things can change last minute for reasons beyond your control so you need to be able to adapt and react quickly. But where there is a problem, there’s always a solution and challenges can always be overcome if you’re well organised.

Read on to find out more about London’s freshest festival that is all about creative culture.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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