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Meet Laura Chaibongsai and Melissa Blundell-Osorio of Nerd Nite Miami

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Chaibongsai and Melissa Blundell-Osorio.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Melissa: We actually didn’t know each other before starting Nerd Nite.

Laura: I work in science communication and host science events regularly. I was encouraged to start a Nerd Nite in Miami by a Nerd Nite Boss from another city.

Melissa: I used to attend Nerd Nite when I lived in New York. When I moved to Miami, I checked to see if there was one I could go to and there wasn’t. I reached out to the main Nerd Nite organizer, the Big Boss, about starting one.

Laura: The Big Boss, Matt, introduced the two of us. We met, then walked into Gramps to ask if they’d host us, and they said yes. We’re still going strong more than four years later.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Melissa: There were definitely some bumps in the beginning as we were still figuring things out, but for the most part we’ve been pretty fortunate. Miami nerds are awesome and have been incredibly supportive of us from the beginning, and Gramps has been a great home for us as well.

Nerd Nite Miami – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Laura: Nerd Nite is a monthly event in which several folks give fun-yet-informative presentations, while the audience drinks along. Every Nerd Nite features three people who each give a 15-minute presentation on a wide variety of topics. People can be nerdy about anything: technology, art, literature, biology, music, philosophy, etc.

Melissa: Some past presentation titles have included, “The Physics of Juggling,” “Natural History of the Asshole,” and “The Golden Age of Board Games.”

Laura: I think what sets us apart is that Nerd Nite fills a gap. It’s about learning, and also about having a good time, thinking and drinking. The presentations aren’t formal, stuffy presentations. It’s different in that it’s a casual environment where people can come learn something cool and interesting while also having a fun, social experience. Best of all, it’s a welcoming space where nerds can be nerdy.

Melissa: I think Nerd Nite has done well because there wasn’t anything like it before in Miami. Miami is so well-known for its club scene and party culture, but there are also a lot of people who are intellectually curious, and there wasn’t as much available for them at the time we started Nerd Nite.

I think now there are definitely more options, but at the time we started, it wasn’t nearly as common. A news crew actually came out to our very first Nerd Nite because it seemed like such an unusual event for Miami.

So, what should we be on the lookout for, what’s next in store for you?
Melissa: We’re very excited for our Museum Tour!

Laura: The Nerd Nite Museum Tour, presented by Ironhack, starts in April. From April to August we’ll be at a different Miami museum each month.

Melissa: We’ll be going to PAMM, Frost Science, HistoryMiami, the World Erotic Art Museum, and Vizcaya.

Laura: And we’re still doing our regular Nerd Nite at Gramps the second Thursday of every month, so for those five months you can get a double dose of nerdiness.

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