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Teacher turned eventsprof hopes to turn successful podcast into exhibition for young adults

by Emily Wallin

When Gaby Mendes qualified as a teacher, her sixth form students – just a few years younger than herself – started asking for help in grappling with the demands of the adult world.
Mendes quickly realised there was a gap in the market for genuine helpful information on ‘adulting’.

After leaving education to work in events the idea grew. She launched the Talk Twenties podcast in January 2020 – and now has almost 30,000 listeners.
With her community switched on, she is now on the cusp of launching Talk Twenties Live.

She gave up her job last July, has a team of freelancers on board and held a successful pilot event in October, with the vision of holding her first exhibition in Spring 2023.
While rising through the ranks working on B2B tradeshows at Rapid News her idea continued to grow.
She says: “I thought I want to do this for my idea. On the side I was growing and launching my own online platform. It had to be online platform because by January 2020 I had just launched Talk Twenties and was thinking we could start with some small events, but by March 2020 nothing could happen.
“I still wanted to have the same messaging, so launched the podcast.
We now have nearly 30,000 listeners on the podcast and the community is growing daily. It created this online community but I’m still really passionate about putting it into a large scale event.”
Her dream for Talk Twenties is for her show to be “a festival of 20-something fun where you can learn about adult life and learn about what life has in store
for you.”

No holding back
Nothing is holding Mendes back. She has unwavering belief in her idea and is not daunted by the task ahead of her.
She is already thinking about how the show can be expanded and taken international in future.
“There isn’t anyone else I see who is 26 and trying to launch their own show,” she says.
“I had a lot of responsibility in my old job and was fortunate that my opinions were heard. I’m really confident in the people I want to take on board. They might be younger, but they really believe in it. I just need to get the money to pay them to quit their jobs and come and
do it.
“With them on board I feel very confident we can pull this off.”
Mendes already has the upper had on many established shows by having such an engaged community at her fingertips.
“They might have had a show running for however many years but the pandemic has meant they couldn’t run that show or its changed in the calendar. They have had to pivot to online options. Their audience might not be interested. They are doing it that way round. My way is I have built the online platform, people are used to seeing the 365 content on the podcast. We have built the online side of things and now we want to turn that audience into a show.”

Mentoring
Mendes says she is grateful to have received support from within the exhibitions industry. Mike Seaman, CEO of Racoon Events, is mentoring her, she took part in an EN Roundtable on launching a show in November and says she has been inundated with offers of advice and support.
So now the next steps.
“I know what I need to do to make it happen. I’ve got all my business plans sorted. It’s all there and been read by quite a few influential people in the industry who have loved it, and who event want to invest in it.
“I know I’ve got a really strong network. If I’m struggling I can put feelers out there and someone will help me.”

Why not dream big? 
A pilot event – with 65 attendees- was a huge success, turning a healthy profit and gaining invaluable support.
“We’ve done a successful pilot show, we’ve got the audience, we tick a lot of boxes, but now we need to shift it into funding,” she says.
The last thing she needs from the EN community community? “Support and contacts,” she says to anyone wanting to help.
Then her dreams can take flight.
“It’s happened a lot faster than I ever could have imagined. For me our dreams are massive. Why not dream big? Why not just go for it?”

Picture by Salis Studio.

Read more features on independent organisers in the February issue of Exhibition News.

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