Verge Meets Nathan Reed

Who is Nathan Reed?? He’s only the king of all things student and fun – undoubtedly as a student, at some point you’ve partied hard thanks to Nathan! He is the MD of Mega Events and the guy who came up with The Big Freshers Icebreaker event concept (as well as Festival Of The Dead, Spring Break Amsterdam, Budafest, The Festival Of Light and more) and transformed the way we do Freshers in the UK. Prior to this, Freshers events were generally organised by local promoters and involved physical reps selling tickets and handing out flyers. Seven years ago, Nathan had the idea to put on the biggest Freshers social event at Kings College Student Union, and promote it using social media and digital marketing. It was a massive success and the Big Freshers Icebreaker parties were born. We caught up with the events genius and picked his brains on all things students, events and marketing.

Can you describe yourself in 3 words?

Excited, energetic and positive.


How would you describe your job ?

I create interesting event ideas with broad public appeal then develop them from conceptual stage, right the way through to running them with the help of my talented team! I try to ensure I don’t get bogged down in the bureaucracy attached with running a company so I can keep myself free for our main objective… creating awesome events. On a day to day basis we evaluate event brands and ideas, create advertising for our current events and then curate the logistics and production needed to make them great.


Where did it all begin?

I guess it really began when I was 13 or 14 where I started an annual rock show for the bands at my secondary school. This gave me the bug to get my teeth into other events and when I was 18 I started my first commercial venture which was a small arts and music festival in some National Trust gardens near my home in Somerset. It was pretty foolish in hindsight but I survived.


What made you want to work in the student line?

Although I chose not to go to university in favour of starting MEGA, I watched all my friends migrate around the country for their various Freshers Week events which gave me an ideal perspective on how big that particular market is… not to mention I had terrible FOMO (fear of missing out) so I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun!

I started a brand called The Big Freshers Icebreaker which was the first social media focused Freshers brand and we cleaned up. Two years later we were backed by Novus Leisure for a national tour and fast forward 8 years and the Icebreaker tour is 70,000 students per year and 26 cities.

As we’ve evolved over half of our business at MEGA is now non-student, however this first experience taught me how to prove up a concept then take it national.


What are your plans for the near future ? What can we look out for?

We’ve been working hard to diversify our portfolio of events which has been an awesomely exciting creative phase. A few of our new projects include a tomato throwing festival like the traditional Spanish one, a tequila festival and a mass fitness event which has gotten me particularly excited. There has been a big shift in the last year towards wellness style events… they’re very much in vogue.


How important has social media been as a tool in the growing of your network?

Our growth has really been based on our ability to hack social media and innovate the ways in which events are marketed and engaged with. Social media platforms are ever evolving so a part of each day is spent trying to develop new ways that we can harness it.


What would be your career highlight to date?

As an events company we constantly get those pinch yourself moments when something special happens so we’re spoilt in that department. In terms of show highlights, hosting the huge thermal spas for Budafest was pretty special, or maybe one of our Festival of the Dead performances, but driving the company to over 150,000 ticket sales in the last 12 months was a real watershed.


What else would you like to achieve?

I have some social enterprise concepts which I feel very passionate about and that I’d love to pursue. I believe it’s the future of charity and a way for people to support others simply with their purchase choices.


What advice would you give any budding event organisers/entrepreneurs?

Make sure whatever you’re working on is a passion project and always test your market!! One thing which has saved our arses so many times is how risk averse we are. We really don’t do anything unless we’ve tested the demand to death and feel sure its a good bet and what this boils down to is whether what you’re trying to sell is a good product or not.


What would you say is the next big party concept?

In general there has been a shift towards more conceptual style events rather than the more traditional artist-led shows and I think things will continue to move in this direction. As for the next big thing, who knows? Mass fitness style events are certainly worth keeping your eye out for.


7 years since your first party what has been the key to your success?

Never standing still. Even in the moments when we’ve been most proud of our work we’re always locked onto the next idea.


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