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This Indian Entrepreneur Holds Events Globally From Belgium Through WhatsApp

"We create multiple groups on WhatsApp, all catering to different aspects of the event like speaker co-ordination groups, volunteer management."
This Indian Entrepreneur Holds Events Globally From Belgium Through WhatsApp
Image credit: Kiran Maverick
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When start-up enthusiast Kiran Maverick visited Hyderabad in 2011, he noticed that there were very few entrepreneurial events happening in the city. Entrepreneurs had to travel to other cities for major events. Instead of waiting for things to change, Maverick took matters into his hands and started August Fest – a start-up summit that involves speakers and participants from all across the globe. Kiran has emerged as a true maverick in the sense that he does all this while sitting at home in Brussels, Belgium.

Ideation And Genesis

At the very outset of narrating his story, Kiran told the Entrepreneur India, “August Fest is an event organized by volunteers. When we started, I bounced the idea off a few friends who agreed to come on board as the initial group of volunteers. As we were on a shoestring budget and didn’t have the funds to organize events at cafes and then pay bills there, we started communicating through WhatsApp,” he said, adding, “In fact, for the first edition of August Fest, I arrived in Hyderabad just a day before the event. I had not even met the team until then.”

While one will think that organizing through WhatsApp involves a lot of challenges, Kiran thinks otherwise. “Honestly, there have been no challenges. The only challenge would maybe be connectivity. We create multiple groups on WhatsApp, all catering to different aspects of the event like speaker co-ordination groups, volunteer management,” he said.

The first edition saw 500 participants, but the number soon began to grow and in 2015 the venue was swamped by a crowd of over 4,000 from 50 odd countries and in 2016 the count went up to more than 9,600.  

How Is August Fest Different

Kiran explained that August Fest stood out from others events happening around it because of its content. “If you notice, the problem with events happening annually is their cliché-ridden format and organizers often end up bringing the same kind of speakers. What we try to do is get different speakers from around the world. We had Bibop G Gresta & Derk from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Cheryl Yeoh, who is among top 10 influencers in Malaysia, among many other famous personalities, attend  the event in Hyderabad and that was after I kept following up with them to come and see the Indian start-up ecosystem. I had once met a Finnish investor, whom I convinced to be a speaker at August Fest. We have been growing organically only because we have new content, format and people,” he stressed with confidence.  

Travelling As Part Of Learning Exercise

Kiran stays in Brussels because his wife works there and travels all around the world, attending start-up events to learn from them and inculcate those ideas into his events in India. “I have lost count by now but I must have attended over 300 events in 50 countries,” he said.

What’s In The Offing

Kiran is now working on the event IamTomorrow, which will be held in Barcelona on June 22. It is an interactive multi-city festival that brings together outstanding women in tech, art, sports, business, politics and beyond. At the same time, he also runs a pre-accelerator programme in Algeria for students called Start-up Altitude. This year he will be organizing August Fest in Mumbai and Hyderabad, and again through Whatsapp. “We already have a volunteer working out of Mumbai ,” he added.

Handy Tips

When it comes to attending start-up events, Kiran has a few tips for entrepreneurs. “It’s very important to choose what events you are attending, don’t just get carried away by the size of the event, look at the content. Be very specific about what you want to take away from the event. Try to email the speakers from beforehand, requesting for their time during the event,” he concluded.

 
Edition: May 2017

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