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How do startups and investors meet and do business amid a pandemic? It has been among the most frequently discussed topics across DealStreetAsia webinars. Several approaches have been suggested to handle delicate issues like due diligence, at a time of severe restrictions on travel.
It is a problem that Freshworks, a customer engagement focused SaaS startup is setting out to address by inviting founders and senior leaders of startups in the region to attend the APAC edition of its Against All Odds Startup Summit. Scheduled for August 14, the live virtual conference aims to bring the APAC startup universe closer to the VC community.
What’s on the agenda
Active discussions: Unlike the usual format of one to many summits and webinars, the Against All Odds Startup Summit is clearly focused on discussion and not passive listening. The summit has 11 roundtables and workshops. They will include only 6 – 8 carefully selected attendees who will participate in conversations with a moderator from Freshworks or from the community.
The discussions will be structured around actual struggle experiences and playbooks from the trenches across verticals like fintech, healthtech, consumer internet and SaaS.
Topics discussed in the roundtables will include consumer internet app marketing, pitfalls, best practices, structuring ESOPs, building traction through the community and more.
Nivas Ravichandran, in charge of startups partnership and growth at Freshworks, said, “The frameworks (workshop sessions) are startup founders opening up their playbooks through a presentation format. The roundtables are candid conversations on the topic with leaders/practitioners who get into the nitty-gritty of things.”
The goal is to get founders to discuss their challenges and seek opinions or feedback from their peers.
Networking: Freshworks is clear that meeting VCs in the current climate has become difficult, due to the lack of physical events. As a result, ‘VC connects’ – meetings that link investors and interested startups are high on the agenda at the Against All Odds Startup Summit.
To closely parallel the real-world networking experience, Freshworks has two different solutions. The first is a scheduled meeting experience via the event’s networking app, where delegates can seek each other out, based on their profiles and interests.
The second is the randomizer – a format akin to speed dating where attendees meet each other for five minutes and can then decide if, when, and how to take a discussion ahead.
Knowledge sharing and inspiration: Freshworks also has a list of engaging keynote and thought leadership speakers including Ajey Gore, the former Gojek CTO who recently joined Sequoia; Carmen Yuen of Vertex Ventures; Chatri Sityodtong of One Championship; Melissa Irene of East Ventures; Roshni Mahtani of theAsianparent and WenYouTan from Ovo.
Who should attend:
Given the sharp focus on networking and productive discussions, Freshworks is looking to draw in founders and senior leaders within startups across different stages of growth.
Speaking about its ambitions for the programme, Freshworks said, “We intend to drive several VC conversations through the event; business development opportunities by meeting other founders and also networking and identifying mentors to grow a startup further.”
Highlights from the India edition of the Against All Odds Startup Summit:
Held on August 6, the first edition of the Against All Odds Startup Summit, focused on India and saw 1,600 registrations, 900 attendees, 2,400 networking meetings + VC meeting requests and 30 VCs in the VC connect initiative.
Speaking about the event, Prateek Singhania, an investment professional at venture and growth capital fund SAIF Partners said, “It was very well structured and thought-through – refreshing even after fatigue of COVID events.” Singhania met a handful of founders of companies he intends to pursue as potential investment opportunities.
Sunitha Vardhan, co-founder of Beyond Plastics, a Bengaluru-based startup focused on building a marketplace for biodegradable alternatives to plastic believes that networking was the highlight of the event. She said, “I would give it 5 stars out of 5. Freshworks made it easy to navigate through all the profiles of the participating startups and VCs, connect instantly and set up meetings.”
According to Gaurav Garg, founder, Sutra Tech Labs, “This is not a Freshworks Sales Event – the best thing about ‘Against All Odds’ is that Team Freshworks is openly sharing their learning curve as a startup – to help others catalyze their progression roadmap. There is no better professor, than the successful student of the same subject.” Garg’s firm connected with eight investors through the event and had three follow up meetings within a week of the summit.
Speaking about the reasons to attend, Vardhan added, “Firstly, it’s a great place for finding potential clients. Secondly, if you are looking for an investor, the profiles pinpoint their interests and would save you the hardship of finding the right one for your startup. Thirdly, you can connect, collaborate and build relationships with other startups that match your requirements and are otherwise hard to find in the ecosystem.”
This content was created in partnership with Freshworks. Please visit the Against All Odds Startup Summit APAC page to register for the event, scheduled for 14 August, 2020