The events and exhibitions market virtually came to a stand still when pandemic induced lockdowns forced people to isolate themselves and stay away from everyone else due to risk of coming in contact with the virus. As we come near the end of 2020, we’ve come to a realization about the importance of physically meeting people for selective things of an important nature; while also understanding when physical meetings are not required. A balance of sorts, so to speak. We’ve started understanding things as they are, rather than what we would like them to be.
Most of the focus with regards to the end of the pandemic hinges on the successful roll out of vaccines, in time reducing the infective capacity of the virus to a normal seasonal flu. Yet, the precautions are unlikely to go away and we find ourselves focusing more on hygiene and sanitation for the better. Events and exhibitions are likely to go the same route as other businesses who have people meeting other people as a crucial business touch point. Like restaurants, physical shopping and the like.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Mini Jacob & George Mohan, the founders of Oddbox, a corporate events company focused on development of the Food and Beverage sector. As the sector begins to come back towards its pre-pandemic revenue figures, stakeholders in the sector need to understand the changes underway in their consumers’ mindsets and make changes for the same. Below are the excerpts from our interaction.
Give a brief info about your startup?
We are a corporate events start-up called Oddbox founded in 2017. Our current focus is within the F&B industry, specifically Fast Food, Cafes, Bars & Breweries, and we run business conferences for this sector. We keep our focus niche within the sector, focusing on innovation, fresh perspectives and unique value across the platforms we provide – namely The Fast Food & Café Convention and The Pub Convention. The events bring together founders and senior management of all international as well as domestic brands, all under one roof, to discuss the various challenges they face in their daily operations. They also get an opportunity to meet with vendors and get an idea of the latest offerings in the market.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
We found our niche early in our journey when we tapped into the lack of a pan-India B2B conference for top-level executives of the ever-growing fast food industry. By focusing on community, we have been creating a space for important business and knowledge exchanges for this industry that has proven to be valuable – we see it in the feedback we’ve been receiving from patrons of The Fast Food & Café Convention and The Pub Convention. Our focus definitely lies in filling unique sector needs and providing the flexibility and creativity needed to achieve this.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
We both have extensive conference & exhibition backgrounds, having worked in this field, in India and abroad. When we met, we not only aligned on our professional values and work styles, but also on a shared vision – leading to the birth of Oddbox.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Even though we are based out of Bangalore, we operate in multiple locations and have a pan India focus on the sector we service. We created this model so that we can be a cohesive platform for the fast-food, café and pub industry to grow and innovate in the right directions specific to the vast and complex Indian context. We aim to amplify the conversations across the country. As yet we have organized our events in Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Our team has been small since the conception of Oddbox. We started as just 2 co-founders – leaning on friends and family to support on-site operations of our early events. Our team has since grown a little, but we believe in taking it slow. We take on a heavy chunk of the work ourselves and let the adrenaline rushes of our wins drive us!
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Of course the pandemic situation has been worrisome but on the whole, we both have always had a positive mindset and more importantly, belief in each other and ourselves. These two factors help us sleep well at night! ☺
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
As a start-up founder, there is the constant tension to do more and grow more – the company is literally your baby and there is no end to how much work one can put into it. This is something we try to be mindful of – with success also comes the added pressure to deliver more but we take on only what allows us peace of mind – and hardly allow business to control our personal lives!
What gets you excited about this company?
Both of us have an incredibly personal style of operating in business and value that personal touch as vital to our company’s mission. And so, the community built through the Fast Food & Café Convention and The Pub Convention is not simply a result of a successful business model or fool-proof strategies – but also honest efforts on more personal aspects of the corporate-events industry that we have discovered to be valuable through our joint experience.
Knowing that we operate out of an authentic and purpose-driven model that remains flexible to the needs of all stakeholders we provide services to, while also holding the reigns of creativity to fulfil this vision is what excites us the most about being a young corporate-events company in 2020, when the need is high for communication, cohesion and support across the board.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
We know of other F&B focused events in this space but don’t consider them to be competitors – as we operate in the QSR & Cafe niche and offer hybrid conference + expo formats with offerings focused towards the unique needs of this space.
Know a great startup story or want to share your own? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you. For more updates follow Bangalore Insider on Facebook and Instagram.