Silicon Alley

New York Tech Meetup Debuts Paid Memberships for High Rollers

Pay up, and you get a spot at the front of the ticket line.
6637954211 2e6ae2e73c New York Tech Meetup Debuts Paid Memberships for High Rollers

At the Meetup. (flickr.com/alextorrenegra)

Sick of the last New York Tech Meetup ticket selling out just before you have a chance to get your hands on it? Well, good news if you absolutely must attend every demo: The organization has just announced the launch of a beta-stage annual membership.

In an email sent to members earlier this afternoon (available here in blog form), the NYTM team points out that, while tickets have been $10 since 2008, those big demo nights aren’t exactly getting any cheaper to host:

We haven’t changed the price despite increases in venue rental and overall production costs, or to cover our expenses in becoming a non-profit organization, hiring our first employee, introducing monthly simulcasting, launching the Made in NY program, and a whole host of other projects we’ve implemented to do what we can to support the growing NY tech community.

While raising ticket prices overall would be one way to “help us build our organizational capacity,” the NYTM team would like to keep the gatherings equally affordable for scrappy student startup founders and the wealthy angel investors who’d like to find them.

Hence the memberships, which promise a guaranteed seat at each meetup–or at least, they’re kinda guaranteed. There’ll be an early ticketing process for members, who’ll have two weeks to pay up before their tickets are released for wider purchase. But buying a membership isn’t the same thing as pre-purchasing tickets, nor are the tickets included in the price of the membership.

Members also get access to exclusive events and a chance to provide feedback on the membership itself.

There are only 200 slots up for grabs, and the process by which NYTM has elected to make the tickets available is interesting. The first 100 invites will go to NYTM members who’ve attended 15 or more meetups; then there’ll be a second 100-ticket lottery for NYTM members who haven’t been to as many demo nights but are still enthusiastic enough to cough up the cash. Sounds to us like it might be a little complicated balancing the loyalty of the long-timers and the needs of the hordes of newcomers.

Nor is this exactly free or even ultra-cheap–it’ll set you back $300. Plus, NYTM is asking that everyone “pledge to give something back to the community.” Qualifying examples include volunteering to advise a nonprofit on digital strategy or hosting office hours.

While this is certainly an opportunity for the ultra-devoted, we can’t imagine that blocking off 200 seats a month will make it any easier for the average startup enthusiast to get his hands on a ticket.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com