I still don’t believe that PRAXIS is a big deal the way some friends and well-wishers make it out to be. For me, success is about hitting the pillow and falling asleep in the quickest possible time. Nothing else matters.
Well, this past week the number of registered delegates to the fifth edition of PRAXIS crossed 500 – the highest ever and also, the most expensive ever.
We did a few things consciously from the word go. These principles have stood the test of time and have taken us past the milestones we had not set for ourselves. I’m sharing these secrets that are in the public domain so that someone somewhere can learn and do this better.
- We took a call to not repeat a venue in the first ten years. This was risky and also proves expensive at times but this has worked for us because we have ensured that the summit travels to the three key zones in a cyclical manner. We started in Pondicherry, then moved to Lavasa, moved up to Agra, went down to Mysore and now are heading to Aamby Valley. This has been a novelty factor. If all goes well we will do the next five in Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi and one more in the West. PRAXIS may also get an international edition.
- We have been brave enough not to repeat speakers and this has largely gone down well. We also have not paid any speakers as they see this as giving back and we all derive value mutually. That being said, we admit to having paid two speakers in four years. That is two paid speakers out of a 100 that we have had till date. We also ensure that young emerging leaders get a chance to speak at every edition.
- We do not sell speaking slots. So you’ll see six new sponsors this year – Spag, PR Hub, Media Mantra, Kaizzen, First Partners and Viacom 18. None of them are speaking this year. Similarly, the usual suspects will attend but if they have been up on stage they will not get a chance again. The idea was to give everyone a chance. A couple of years ago we listed 300 potential speakers. We felt that at an average of 30 speakers per edition, we can give each of the 300 speakers a chance over the next 10 years.
- We ensure a good live concert and never repeat a performer, however good. Again, the principle is to offer new talent a chance and to ensure novelty. So from Swarathma to Sivamani to Ambili Menon and Indian Ocean we have had great performances year on year.
- The way we manage finances has been unique and the main reason for what we have achieved. We do not have a bank account. We only created an entity this year and a handful of sponsors transfer money there that helps us pay for contingencies. Most large sponsors pay our vendors and suppliers directly based on deals we negotiate.
- The registration model is also unique. We ensure that all companies that partner make a commitment to send a certain number of delegates. This is built into the sponsorship proposal. So, 50% of delegates come from partner companies. It is a win-win. We also do not charge a registration fee until about 50 days before the event. We ensure we sell the room and food cost to delegates on actuals, thereby locking in people at great deals. So the summit itself is a bonus.
All this has made the PRAXIS experience unique. At every edition we have atleast 40% attendees who have been to one more previous editions. That is validation enough that this was an idea whose time had come.