World Vegan Day and World Vegan Month are just around the corner (kicking off November 1st) so who better to talk to that the duo behind Vevolution? We discuss the idea behind the inspiring event and how far it has come in such a short space of time. Damien and Judy are such positive changemakers themseleves who have built a loyal community.
Founded in late 2016, Vevolution is a movement at the heart of the acceleration of plant-powered positive change.
Vevolution holds regular events including their annual showcase Vevolution Festival and publishes articles, podcasts and videos to inspire people to make the world a better place.
We wanted to create a global education movement with plant-powered living at its heart. Damien worked on the very first Veganuary campaign and was inspired by the success of that movement.
The first Vevolution Festival was in November 2016 and it has been incredible to see what an inclusive, thriving global movement for change Vevolution has become. The conversation at our festivals and in all the media we produce is very much centred around change-making and how we can live on the planet in a sustainable way.
What skills did you come to the business with already and how has this helped grow your community?
Damien’s background was in digital marketing and journalism, where he had spent 5 years working with NGO’s on mostly climate-related campaigns. Damien came with an understanding of social movements and how to tell stories in a way that would capture people’s attention.
Judy worked in events in both the arts and tech worlds, so she brought a wealth of operational experience. Judy’s skills have been crucial as the events grew really quickly and required a huge amount of organisation.
How do you pick the speakers for the event?
This is the hardest part of our job because there are so many talented people who deserve to have their ideas heard. The curation of the line-up very much still comes from us as founders but increasingly our talented team feed in ideas for speakers.
In the early days, the speakers very much came from our network of friends but over the years partnerships with organisations like Eat Drink Vegan have meant we now attract an international audience of plant-powered positive change-makers.
Whittling down the list of speakers every year is a challenge as so many people get in touch with us wanting to share their story.
What’s the most challenging thing about setting up your own event business?
We are first and foremost an educational movement for positive change in the world who also run events.
We started Vevolution with zero investment and very little savings which meant that we had to make sure our events were profitable from the start. Both of us worked other jobs for the first 18 months of running Vevolution, which meant a lot of long days working from 9-6 and then coming home to work on Vevolution.
It is very difficult to run profitable consumer events in London because the cost of hiring high-quality venues is incredibly high.
For us, we rely heavily on brand partnerships to make our events work. My advice would be to try and secure partners who believe in your vision and want to be involved in creating something new and innovating in the industry.
We wanted to put plant-powered living in the spotlight and showcase all the incredibly talented people we met who were creating positive change in the world.
For us, it was important that we found beautiful venues and made the events inspiring and educational first and foremost.
We started Vevolution because we had a passion for sharing inspiring education, we have been lucky to have lots of success but also have had to learn a lot of hard business lessons along the way.
We have had to grow a lot as entrepreneurs and it has been a steep learning curve. Recently we have been getting more advisors and people with an outside perspective to feed into what we are doing, that we both wish we did earlier.
What is the most worthwhile investment (time, energy, money) that you have made?
Vevolution has been an incredible life-changing experience for both of us. I am really pleased that we followed our passion and vision for what it could become.
We’ve invested a lot of time into Vevolution and despite Vevolution doing lots of different things we have remained focused on this business. This has meant we haven’t done some of the other things we both would have liked to pursue but that sacrifice has meant Vevolution has continued to thrive.
What is one failure are you glad you experienced?
We thought that our online library of talks would be more popular than they have proven to be. This, however, made us think about how we could use all this incredible content in different ways.
This led us to take this content to create the Vevolution podcast. This has proven to be very successful and I am not sure we would have done this if we the videos had performed better. You can watch the videos and listen to our weekly podcast at www.vevolution.co/media.
When it comes to the event, what are you most excited by?
It is our biggest ever Vevolution Festival and people are travelling from all over the world to talk, attend and be a part of this incredible community.
At every festival, we meet incredible people who tell us how Vevolution has played an important role in their life. This is what gives us the most joy and is all the motivation we need.