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Success at the Biscuit Factory (SE16)

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I still remember approaching Ved Sen, CEO of ThinkPLANK, after one of his famous Convergence Conversations, a popular event, organised in partnership with Intellect Institute, and suggesting we should meet for a quick coffee. It must have been about a year ago. At the time I was working alongside Paul Dowling on DreamStake.net, which we founded together, trying to figure out how to most effectively deliver value to a community of about 4k members (mostly tech media and creative entrepreneurs). We had already organised a few networking events adopting a traditional format (a series of short talks or pitches, alternatively a workshop followed by drinks and loose networking). I was really attracted to Ved’s fresh and interesting approach to tech events. With Convergence Conversation he introduced a new formula that would see a few carefully selected industry experts presenting their point of view – each slightly different – on a particular topic, such as Internet of Things. Their views would often, but not always, be rooted in their background, professional experience or position they held within a major player of a specific industry. Speakers would be sitting in the semi circular audience, among other participants and their few-minutes-long talks acted as inspiration or trigger for other participants to join in with their opinions and questions.

What the “quick coffee” turned out to be was a good brainstorming session between three people on the side of DreamStake and two on the side of ThinkPLANK. We decided it was possible to adapt Ved’s formula to the world of startup events. Months of discussions followed until DreamStake, having partnered with the Workspace Group was finally in a really good position to facilitate the first Startup Conversation 2.0. The result was outstanding with speakers Iolo Jones (TV Everywhere), Peter Tegelaar (ex Newcope), and Jeanine Athas (Waterbridge Capital) merely instigating a heated discussion about entrepreneurial conditions in London as compared to those in Silicon Valley and other parts of Europe (such as Israel). The debate lasted longer that anybody could ever predict, with the grand finale (after every one of the attendees had a chanced to briefly introduce themselves) being the moderator of the discussion stating “my name is Ved and I really need a drink now”.

It seems that Ved’s event formula was meant for startup do. I look forward to seeing how Startup Conversations 2.0 develop.

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