[WATCH] 'A testament to Malta’s rich entrepreneurial spirit' | Michael Azzopardi

Ahead of their second networking event on October 9, Hey Disco organizer Michael Azzopardi speaks to us about ‘Make A Scene’, which will bring speakers from a variety of startups together under one roof to talk shop and share their experiences

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
22 September 2015, 8:30am
The crowd from the previous edition of Hey Disco
The crowd from the previous edition of Hey Disco
Michael Azzopardi
Michael Azzopardi
What did you learn from your previous event, and how did you apply that to this edition of Hey Disco?

​We learned that people love listening to others tell their stories in the relaxed atmosphere that we provided. So with this edition we wanted to give them more of that, with a diverse line up of creatives giving concise, informative talks. From our previous event we now know that under the right circumstances, creatives will meet up on a Friday night, shoot the breeze over a few drinks and that good comes out of that. That ultimately is what Hey Disco is all about.

Hey Disco #2 is entitled Make A Scene. It’s bringing together creators who are building things around the music, culinary and design scene, making these industries stronger by generating good products. Our aim is to show our audience how their trade can return a profit or something of great value, even in smaller economies. We’re also excited to feature the first non-profit organisation.

These sorts of events are becoming important to local creatives. Making connections amongst up-and-coming talent tips the scale in their favour – our partners recognise this too.

Hey Disco #2 is ​gaining​ some wonderful support from Arts Council Malta, who share our vision ​in bringing the creative community together. Hey Disco will help highlight #create2020, the Arts Council’s proactive strategy for 2020. We’re also supported by Casumo an innovative Gaming startup eager to discover Malta’s best talent in web design and development. Thanks to these partnerships, Hey Disco remains free to attend.

Finally, we’re upgrading the ‘informal networking’ part: the bar will again be fully stocked, we’re giving out more free merchandise and the music will be spot on. It’ll be a memorable Friday night.

What would you say is the prevailing attitude amongst local startups (or those run by Maltese people)? Are there any particular challenges that they face, and how do you think an event like Hey Disco would help them overcome them?

The size of the island doesn’t dampen spirits. Everything being considered, the startup scene is thriving. What we aim to do with Hey Disco is give the protagonists a stage to showcase their work, tell their story and influence others in starting up.

On the flip side, there’s a lack of a physical hub, places to meet and share ideas. It is important to discuss and engage in public speaking when starting up, it gives founders valuable feedback and confidence in their product. So we’ll keep putting founders on stages because they deserve to be heard.

We also notice a gap between companies and talent. Employees don’t meet employers through vacancy ads anymore, they meet in social settings. We set up Hey Disco with this in mind, we want people to bump into each other and present their authentic selves to potential colleagues.

 

What can you tell us about the participants this time around? What kind of picture of local startups do they paint?

The new line up is a tasty one. We’re joined by a chef, a tearoom owner, musicians and a fabulous Non-profit, MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), which is literally saving lives. This lineup was carefully selected to present a diverse set of disciplines and backgrounds. We’re proud to have MOAS represented, a young NGO that’s full of purpose and creativity that will surely inspire those present.

Most of these individuals are at the early days of their ventures, and testament to the island’s rich entrepreneurial spirit. They are betting on their strengths and understand what their audiences expect. They’re a truly inspiring group of people.

 

What’s next for you?

A bigger and better Hey Disco. With help from our partners we’ve been able to add layers to the event, but the next challenge is reaching the wider audience, make it as inclusive as possible and more importantly, keep it free to attend.

Next, we’ll be organising workshops and lectures delivered by other local and international creators. We will continue to shine a light on homegrown talent and give everyone the opportunity to talk about their work, whatever that may be, you never know who’s listening.

‘Make A Scene’ will take place on October 9 at Blitz, St Lucy Street, Valletta at 19:00. Get your free ticket from: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hey-disco-2-make-a-scene-tickets-18099163084. Follow Hey Disco on Facebook: http://facebook.com/heydayofficial

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The full line-up:

Dani Vella (Tearoom owner at Flora’s)

Carlo Muscat (Jazz Artist)

Ian Schranz & Alison Galea (Musicians, Singer/songwriters)

David Darmanin (Chef, Streetfood trader at PFGT.co.uk)

Matthew Attard (Artist/designer at NO.ME)

Christina Lejman (Fundraising Officer at MOAS)

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...