I had a chance to see the agenda for 6 startup events that are taking place over the next 2 months. NASSCOM Product conclave, TIE Con Delhi, TechCrunch India and 3 other media events by local folks.
As part of our work at the accelerator we also track the top 137 key “startup speakers” in India. Just so we know who the most frequent, popular and the most sought after speakers are.
Here’s the headline. The same 35 – 40 folks are speaking at all these events. Its almost as if we have run out of ideas in terms of speakers. There are possibly 2-3 reasons for this I think. One, event organizers feel if they get a top name speaker, then the attendees have a reason to come. Two, they probably do not want to “upset” the important folks so we end up having panels of 5-6 people on a 30 min slot and by the time we finish intros and a 2 min spiel by each panelist, we are done. Third, we really dont have too many articulate, insightful speakers so they same names come up all the time.
The second part of the problem is the format and structure of the event. There is a “same-ness” to every one of these – panels, reverse pitches, fireside chats. Throw in 10 “startup pitches” a-la American Idol and you have a $100K profit event.
Most of these events are fairly formulaic, now it seems. Throw in a few ecosystem partners, you will be guaranteed about 300-500 attendees and most likely this event is churning at the low end $50K to $100K or more if the event is larger.
While many event organizers will tell you this is what folks are asking for and signing up for, they are also looking for fresh ideas on how to change the format.
I think the number of events is going to increase not decrease in India because most folks running these events are making good money. While I used to think that 50% of the folks attending these events are the same that appear in each event, I have been told otherwise. Many of the folks (over 50%) are putting their toe into entrepreneurship and looking at ways to network with prime movers who are those 30+ speakers I mentioned above.
I would love to get some ideas on both topics and formats that you think we should experiment on.
P.S. I am as guilty as the others in helping program manage some of these events or help put the structure together for these, so I am as much a part of the problem. Which is why seeking help possibly redeems me.