Interview: Leela Sai Dev

Event Linked interview with Leela Sai Dev
Leela Sai Dev
Lead Marketing and Events, CIAR Software Solutions


Leela Sai Dev has been organizing events since high school. Today, he is an ecosystem enabler & a marketing professional by day, and a writer and cook by night. He is involved with quite a few Non Profits, working to support entrepreneurship in the country. He is also a public speaker and loves networking with passionate and driven people. Team EventLinked (EL) had the pleasure of interviewing him.


EL: We noticed that you have a history of organizing and managing Events. How has the journey been thus far?
LSD: I have been organising events since my high school days, and during college I was part of the Entrepreneurship cell, raising sponsorships and building comprehensive partnerships. The journey has been amazing so far, delivering more value and ROI to our partners who believe in us.


EL: How has Events, as a medium, helped organizations and brands that you have worked with/ for?
LSD: Events as a medium is a marketing tool that needs to be handled with care. Networking events, trade shows, conferences help you gain 3 things – branding, sales leads and meaningful partnerships. At CIAR we constantly attend trade shows and throw networking meetups, so that we have a faithful community who knows about our product offering and helps with a consistently good word-of-mouth.


EL: What are the challenges/ pain points that you face or have faced as an Event Organizer?
LSD: Having lasting relationships with the Sponsors
Crowd Management
Budget allocated to PR
Good Locations to conduct the event
Having the Right people
Time constraints
Environmental and Technology Hassles


EL: You have been in an active role in raising sponsorship for events. How was the process… was it simple or tedious?
LSD: I have helped raise sponsorship several times during the last three years. To be honest, if the sponsor is a B2C business it always looks for three things – Engagement, Reach and Virality. If your event is all these things, the sponsorship is just an MOU away. It is tedious when we have to reiterate the Mutual deliverables while partnering with a big player, but mostly the challenge is exciting for me. If you want to be an event organiser you have to live and breathe event listing sites, while always keeping the budget in mind.


EL: Compared to other media, such as Print, Radio, TV, Online etc., what do you like about Events?
LSD: The above mentioned Media, excluding Online, are too diverse and vague; they may or may not reach the target audience and the ROI is usually under 10%. A physical event on the other hand allows the consumer/customer to touch/feel your product offering, or at least have a firsthand understanding about your company. Events have a relatively large ROI and bring in qualified leads.


EL: What changes do you wish to see in the Events space in India?
LSD: We need people who can think on their feet; problem solvers who don’t panic in tricky situations and also the events need to be result-oriented and the organisers need to get feedback from the attendees to constantly improve. Communication to your target crowd through the channel that most suits your event is a very important aspect in making it successful. Social Media influencers can help spread the word out; this avenue needs to be ventured into more.


EL: What is your message for Brands that sponsor and Event Organizers?
For Sponsors
Do a thorough background check about the event and the average age group that’ll attend.
While discussing the deliverable, be very clear and invest in people more than the event.

For Event Organisers
Dress sharp. Brush up on that accent. Only promise what you can deliver. Be truthful.
Have a solid team in place. Remember the deal is not done until that cheque clears the bank.


EL: EventLinked is an online platform that helps Event Organizers reach out to interested Brands and raise event sponsorship money online. Listing (creating an Event Sponsorship Proposal) is free and the only fee charged to Event Organizers is 2% of the total sponsorship money raised.

What is your take on EventLinked?
LSD: I love the fact that you charge only 2% which is very low than the other players. I would love to know more about how you guys vary from the others, in this space.


EL: Would you ever consider listing an event on EventLinked?
LSD: Yes, I would definitely consider it when the scale of the event demands it 🙂


EL: What is your most memorable moment from an event and what makes it such?
LSD: It was back in college, for our Entrepreneurship summit, and I was in charge of Hospitality. We had a partner, MOU signed, discount negotiated, all in place, but he backed out at the last minute, a day before the big day. I was on the phone with him around 19 times that day. I begged, pleaded, threatened, argued and finally convinced the Front end manager to finally agree to the previous. Interestingly, and no one knows this, that hotel chain ended up offering me a job, which I politely declined, though positively elated!

Leela Sai Dev can be reached via LinkedIn and on Facebook.

Please note: the opinions expressed in this interview are those of the respondent and do not reflect the views of the company to which he is affiliated.