Interview: Shreyas Narayanan Kutty

Shreyas Narayanan Kutty
Community Manager, HasGeek

Team EventLinked (EL) recently had the pleasure of interviewing Shreyas Narayanan Kutty, a community manager currently residing in Bengaluru, India.
A computer science engineer by education, in his words, he ‘succumbed to the lure of all things social’ and took up community management as a full-time profession. He has been building communities as a volunteer with the Mozilla Foundation for almost 5 years and has been a full-time community manager with Belong (Scrollback) for almost 2 years. Currently, Shreyas manages communities at HasGeek.

EL: Please tell us more about CMX Series Bangalore.
SNK: CMX is a global community for community managers. We recently started CMX Series Bangalore to connect with other community professionals in the city, provide them with tools, resources and most importantly, experiences to succeed as a community manager. This is a platform to share resources and learnings about community management.


EL: How has Events, as a medium, helped organizations that you have worked with/ for?
SNK: Events for me was never a medium for marketing. It was always about community and what people wanted. I’ve organized several events in my personal and professional journey. All of these were focussed on providing value to the attendees. I think of an event as an experience to connect with your community on a personal level, especially when you run an online community where people largely interact on forums or mailing lists.


EL: What are the challenges/ pain points that you face or have faced as an Event Organizer?
SNK: I’ve faced different challenges with different community events. They’re never the same.

  • When it’s a small or relatively unknown brand/individual conducting an event, although a large number of people register or RSVP for the event, a lot of them don’t turn up and hence planning logistics becomes really hard.
  • When you do knowledge meetups and have the reputation of conducting meetups with good content, finding more people to come talk at your meetups are a problem. It’s usually the same set of speakers, unless the community is huge.
  • When you think you’ve finally managed to solve the first two problems, you realize that you don’t have the ‘right’ crowd at the event.

These are generally some known challenges. Then there are other challenges that are beyond your control like bad weather, countrywide bandh, festivals etc. that happens and people just don’t turn up!


EL: Have you ever helped raise sponsorship for an event? If yes, how was the process… was it simple or tedious?
SNK: I’ve raised sponsorships for Makerparty Chennai. I thought it was comparatively easier just because we had big names like Mozilla, Wikimedia, Google etc. involved. But nevertheless, the going back and forth to arrive on some decisions were just time consuming. Everything at a sponsorship level eventually boils down to what their ROIs are.


EL: Compared to other media, such as Print, Radio, TV, Online etc., what do you like about Events?
SNK: All the above-mentioned are marketing channels. For me, events were never about marketing. It was about community and what people want. The main difference here is that all these channels involve one-to-many communication – they are your audience. Events allow many-to-many communication – which is your community.


EL: What changes do you wish to see in the Events space in India/ Bengaluru?
SNK: I have a dream to see everyone who RSVPs to go to an event, actually turn up at that event. 🙂
On a serious note, it’d be great to see events that add real value to the attendees and are able to map their growth not in terms of number of attendees at their events, but through the journey of their attendees. For example, if I’m organizing a meetup for the JavaScript community, I’d like to eventually see how many attendees of my meetups have grown to become speakers, or maybe got better job opportunities through these meetups.


EL: What is your message for Brands that sponsor and Event Organizers?
SNK: I’d like brands to have a clear ROI plan for sponsoring events and convey it to the organizers. This helps set the expectations right for both parties.

Events are really exciting opportunities. However, event organizers should never lose track of their north star – why did they start doing this event?


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?
SNK: Looks good.
EL: Would you ever consider listing an event on EventLinked?
SNK: Right now, CMX Bangalore is just 3 months old. Most of our attendees are people who’ve connected with us online because they are managing communities. We hope to grow gradually. But if we reach a stage at which we need to use a platform like EventLinked, I see no reason to not do it.

EL: What is your most memorable moment from an event and what makes it such?
SNK: I was invited to speak at an event in Munnar. The day before my talk, I had the opportunity to attend Daya Bai’s talk which was super inspiring. It wasn’t a normal talk, it was about her journey. Post the talk, I also had the opportunity to interact with her, which went down on my ‘most memorable interactions’ book of life.

Shreyas Narayanan Kutty can be reached on Twitter.
Community managers in and around Bangalore can follow CMX Bangalore on Twitter and 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.