Our fundraising tour to San Francisco began with a 2-day stopover in Dubai where I met Dr Rajen Kilachand, an early supporter and investor in Eventerprise and a world-renowned businessman and philanthropist.
Dr Rajen invited me to lunch at his home, where I was fortunate to meet some movers and shakers. The luncheon allowed me to engage with people who have the means, insights, and networks to promote our business further, and to reinforce Eventerprise’s value proposition.
One of the people I met with was Santoshkumar Vasudevan, the Principal Investment Officer at ICF, a member of the World Bank Group. Santosh told me that he has been in South Africa many times, which led us to arrange a meeting with Santosh and his lovely wife, Kalyani, when they come to Cape Town again in December.
Networking goes way beyond mere connections.
I find travelling and meeting with people from different cultures and walks of life always broadens horizons for those who are open to engaging, and who are, by definition, genuinely curious.
I thrive on this. Living in Cape Town, I sometimes feel deprived of this privilege as I feel the general way of life too laid back.
Anyway, back to my trip.
Dubai, or rather the UAE, inspires me more with every visit. The people are bold and invest in big dreams. As a result, they have created a vibrant metropolis which has become a global hub.
I don’t care what the critics have to say. All I see and feel is constant stimulation. Who dares wins.
Look at EXPO 2020, Emirates Airlines, the incredible and mind-boggling airport, the skyscrapers, top-notch hotels and entertainment establishments; the list is endless! The UAE has just about everything, and it continues to grow – at scale.
It’s worth remembering that Eventerprise sourced many of our first seed investors from Dubai based business people and icons from the events industry.
Charlie, one of my co-founders at Eventerprise, built one of the region’s most recognised events business. He exited the business when he sold it to one of the world’s biggest turnkey events companies, the Arena Group.
From Dubai, I departed on another 17-hour flight to San Francisco.
San Francisco is a tad older than the UAE but has a similar DNA. The city has evolved from the gold rush that lured pioneers from all over the world into the tech hub of the world. It is very much a place of trailblazing.
Many great ideas driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution stem from Silicon Valley. I have visited San Francisco a few times now, and become acclimatized to the city.
I love the buzz, the openness, and the power of innovation that it generates.
I was joined on the fundraising tour by my co-founder Charlie, who flew in to bolster our efforts. Our primary mission was to support Peter Henry from Act 5 and to present ourselves, in person, to a quorum of investors, influencers, and players from across the event space, who have already shown a serious interest in investing with Eventerprise.
The visit proved invaluable and showed me how excited people are about our business model and the opportunity that we are offering.
Everyone we met with has extensive and relevant event experience, and a particular affiliation to the greater Los Angeles area, which is also Eventerprise’ first launch market in the US. Peerspace, BizBash or The h.wood Group are all complementary to what we do and are aligned to our core purpose. Entering into a Cooperation Partnership with companies like these will certainly raise the bar and ultimately benefit our customers.
We also met with Josh Breinlinger, a founding partner at Jackson Square Ventures, a marketplace-focused VC.
Our team got the opportunity to join Keiretsu’s Angel Capital Expo, the premier gathering of the angel capital community. We were only there as attendees (not to pitch), but by the end of the evening, we had left our mark, and the Eventerprise name was fresh in many minds. Next time we will be on stage pitching Eventerprise!
This Expo brings investors and entrepreneurs together. The event was full of like-minded founders and decision makers, all with the common goal to create something of value that can scale! True pioneer-style.
Amongst them was Carlos Siqueira, an exceptional peak performance coach and motivational speaker. Carlos is out there to inspire, and that transforms lives.
During our stay, the fires in Northern California continued unabated. They had wiped out entire towns, taking the lives of many and leaving many more homeless. Despite being over 300km away, the air was horrendous and left a blanket of thick yellow smoke over the city. But we were undeterred, life went on, and we did our job as everybody else did theirs.
We also picked up on a new trend of co-working spaces, which are sure to give the likes of WeWork a run for their money. Peter introduced Charlie and me to an even cooler concept: Spacious.
Spacious rents space from outlets during their non-operational hours, (think restaurants or wine bars), and equips them with WiFi hotspots, power, and tea & coffee facilities. They then charge a nominal monthly subscription (just like Eventerprise) to members who can work out of any Spacious space. Spacious is super trendy and is radically disruptive and diversified.
From San Francisco, I caught the red-eye to New York to accept the prestigious Stevie Award for the 15th Annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business.
There’s never a dull moment when we travel!
I am exceptionally proud to be recognised by my peers as of one of the top global female entrepreneurs for 2018. More than 700 guests (mostly female), from all over the world attended the awards at the Sheraton Hotel in the middle of Manhattan. And what a vibe that was!
I want to remind everyone about how much diversity matters, not only gender diversity but diversity inclusion in all forms. That is the heart of the matter.
It is no longer good enough to dismiss laws or quotas; they just don’t cut it. It is a sad indictment on society that we actually need them.
Sadly, laws and quotas are required because of the lip service and pretence around political correctness. However, diversity is alive and well. I can assure you that women support women like never before.
It is all about what you do and how you can help. Coincidentally over the same weekend, The Girlboss Rally was taking place in New York.
Pam, who I mentioned earlier, told me what a great event this was when we met the following day.
I met Pam in person for the first time, and that experience alone made the entire trip worthwhile. I am honoured by Pam’s enthusiasm for our business, and her willingness to help create further momentum for Eventerprise.
The cherry on top for the trip was that I was joined by my daughter Lili (18), and Lara (19) one of our French Young Gun interns. Having them there to joined me in New York to accept this award was a truly special experience.
These two young women provided incredible support, and I believe this type of exposure cannot happen early enough. I am committed to fast-tracking young females, and showing them the ropes to become future female leaders. At the same time, learning is a two-way street, and I was fortunate to be able to learn from them both.
It’s all about openness, curiosity, lifelong learning, and the ability to change.
The trip was invaluable on many fronts. Charlie and I make a great team, and there will be many more trips to come as Eventerprise now secures its foothold and begins to scale in the US.