Interview with Vivek Sridhar, Business Head, Piedpiper Events
Paradigm shift in the event space… is part of various live series that the team.i is conducting wherein experts of the events industry join over a live virtual chat. The whole agenda of these series is to answer the commonly asked question, queries and concerns regarding the future of event spaces due to the pandemic, and what better way to do it than the events experts themselves answering it.
On a peaceful Thursday evening at around 8pm on June 18th, 2020, we had Mr. Vivek Sridhar, Business head, Piedpiper Events, to join our CEO Mr. Arvind Jyot Sabhaney for this series’s 18th session.
Tell us about yourself
The Journey of Mr. Viven started off during the summer holidays of his 11th grade, when he took up a part time job at an events firm. Slowly he started getting interested in this line, and started doing more manpower in this field. This is when he came across an ad of team.i for which his reaction was “And I was like, man, event management as an industry exists and I can go and learn something related to it!”. This is where he learnt more about events, he started participating in a lot of outdoor related projects.
In 2008, he met Sarah Lob, his current business partner. She had a lot of product projects in her mind and she wanted a helping hand, and that’s when Mr. Vivek joined the bandwagon with her.
But Mr. Vivek still hadn’t considered events as a serious career option for him.
“Yeah. Is it fine now? Okay. So then over a period of time, I used to do a lot of manpower and it was just for fun. Then I saw an ad of your Institute in, uh, in the newspaper. And I was like, man, event management, the industry exists and I can go and learn something.
So again, I, uh, joined your Institute and even over there, it was more of fun for me, you know, like going out. And there was a lot of learning, in fact. So any event that was there, I used to be like the first one to go out and, you know, uh, take care of production and work outdoors work four days and stuff like that.
Then in 2008, uh, again, my man powering business and stuff was going well. So I met, uh, Sarah Lobo, who is my business partner now. “It was just fun for me. I was not serious and I didn’t want to really start a company. So initially after the course and stuff I wanted to do freelancing.”
But 2 years into the business, their company started picking up a reputation. They started making a good name for themselves in the industry, and they started getting more and bigger clients. Thus this is when he became serious about his passion and profession.
This passion and professionalism lead him and his partner to make their company go through events coaching, and since then there’s been no looking back in providing quality service to their clients.
How have you handled the lockdown period?
Mr. Vivek got married in February this year, and when the lockdown was announced he was in Sri Lanka with his wife. “Honestly In the first week I thought it really didn’t affect me. I was thinking that, okay, this may be a small phase, like a month or 2 maximum and then things are going to be better.”
But then it was a frantic call from his business partner Sarah Lobo that brought him to reality. “I got a call from her saying, “Hey, you know what, things are not happening. Like there’s going to be a shutdown and every single corporate client has either postponed or canceled the event or wedding claims.””.
This is when Mr. Vivek realised that there was some way he had to keep his money coming in and rolling. Thus, this is when he started trading on his existing demat account all over again.
Once he landed in Bengaluru, he started doing a lot of research regarding the situation and possible future course of action. As a team they came up with different ideas and themes and then they contacted their clients.
So during all of these, they started considering virtual events seriously and pondered over different creative ideas that can be used for while conducting virtual events.
Any virtual events?
“So virtual events, we’ve got a lot of inquiries. We’ve been sending quotes to clients and, but nothing is finalized yet. We haven’t done anything yet, but the process is that we’ve been connecting to a lot of our clients.”. For Vivek and his team, the last event they conducted was back in March of this year.
When do you expect to do your next event?
“We have a couple of events that are confirmed for this year which we will start working on from next month.”.
Speaking further, he tells us that both these events are corporate events.
So do you think that this on ground space is going to open up soon enough? And is it going to open up like the way it was once upon a time?
“In terms of wedding things will open up soon. The number of people allowed will increase too over a period of time” says a hopeful Mr. Vivek regarding the wedding industry in the country. But at the same time he feels corporate events will take a lot of time to get back to the normal mode.
But talking about when he feels things will open up, Mr. Vivek estimates that by the next financial year everything will hopefully open up. Until then most events will have to be done over online or virtually.
How are you holding up with regards to your employees during this lockdown situation?
Mr. Vivek with a team of 4 people, and the company is not letting go of anyone. “We are making sure we pay them 100% salary. But right now due to the situation we are paying 70% and we promise to pay the rest 30% as soon as everything comes back to normal over a period of time.”
What is your advice to people who want to take up events as a career? And what is your advice for employees who have just joined the events industry?
Mr. Vivek feels that this is the best time for students to join this illustrious industry. He advises students right now to contact different event management firms for part time jobs and internships.
He believes that students should not look at or focus on the amount or stipend being paid to them for the internship. Rather they should focus more on enquiring the type of work they will be doing. It’s all about upgrading one’s skill.
“It’s not how much you are getting paid. It’s all about getting into the grind and getting to upgrade their skills.
Coming to the question regarding the new employees, he feels that it’s a must and important for them to go through all sorts of training provided to them by the company.
He suggests that they should talk to their respective employers or any experienced employee of their firm and build a healthy relationship with them. “If you stand with them, they will stand with you too”.
Mr. Vivek also highly suggests the new comers and even the students to use this time to learn something new through online courses.