What’s the future of marketing, retail & commerce? Q&A with Rupa Ganatra of Millennial 20/20

Rupa Ganatra is a Founding Partner of Millennial 20/20, the global summit series that brings together over 3,000 brands, retailers, service providers, investors, media and start-ups to explore the future of retail, marketing and commerce in Singapore, New York, London and Sydney.

Millennial 20/20 will be hosted at the ArtScience Museum on 25th-26th October 2017. The Summit is about the future vision of marketing, retail and commerce driven by the “millennial mind-set” of today’s customers who shop, travel, interact with brands and consume content differently.

Rupa is also founder, investor and partner in a series of other businesses including GiftGuidePortal.com, the CIJ Festival and Unlimited Brewing and has won several awards including Management Today and the Sunday Times 35 under 35 Women in the UK and Top 100 in UK Tech, as well as being the Founding Board Member of the UK Guild of Entrepreneurs and Board Director at the Ashraya Initiative for Children charity since 2008.

 Melissa Lim of LadyBoss interviewed Rupa about Millennial 20/20.

The world is changing at such a rapid pace that it’s transforming 3 major spheres of influence – retail, marketing and commerce.

Q:Tell us more about your role at M20/20 and why was M20/20 founded?

A: The idea really started with the realisation that today’s consumers have adopted a millennial mindset, which is changing everything – from the way they shop and the way they interact with brands, to how they consume content, to their decision-making processes.

As a result, the world is changing at such a rapid pace that it’s transforming 3 major spheres of influence – retail, marketing and commerce. So, no matter whether you are a large high street retailer or an innovative start-up, everyone is facing the same opportunities and challenges. As a business today, you simply can’t afford to stand still, you have to continue to evolve to stay relevant.

When my business partner Simon Berger and I looked around for business events to address this, we couldn’t find anything that existed and that’s when we decided to launch M20/20 in London in 2016. My role has evolved as the company and size of the team has grown but I’m still involved in many aspects of the day-to-day operations. I genuinely feel passionate about the content and through every meeting and interaction with our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, media partners and delegates, I feel like I get to learn something new.

Whether it’s the evolving role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it can help them to understanding their customers better, building new partnerships with start-ups that can drive future growth and innovation, or the future marketing experiences for today’s customers, each Summit aims to provide inspiration and real-life case studies

Q:How is M20/20 different from other tech and business conferences?

A: M20/20 is very specific to brands, retailers and corporates who are looking to understand their future marketing, retail and commerce strategy.

Whether it’s the evolving role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it can help them to understanding their customers better, building new partnerships with start-ups that can drive future growth and innovation, or the future marketing experiences for today’s customers, each Summit aims to provide inspiration and real-life case studies of what works and what doesn’t.

We do this through a curated conference programme of 200+ speakers across 8 conference tracks. We also believe wholeheartedly in the future of immersive experiences. It’s no longer sufficient to just talk conceptually about trends. Being able to see and experience interactive exhibits in-person is much more valuable to brands.

Our sponsors and partners host a series of immersive showcases on-site to bring ideas such as the future of stores or the future of food to life. We also provide an online matching portal and curated exhibition guide to help brands, retailers and corporates discover service providers and start-ups that they can connect with as part of a commerce toolkit.

Q:Who should attend M20/20? M20/20 is an event for anyone interested in the future of retail, marketing and commerce.

A: Our delegates include like-minded and innovative brands, retailers, corporates, start-ups, solution providers, media and investors from across the Asia region.

Q:Who is your favourite speaker of the upcoming M20/20?

A:That’s a really tough one. There are so many incredible speakers who give their time to share their stories and experiences on stage – it would be hard to pick just one! If I had to pick one that I’m looking forward to, I would have to say it’s worth checking out the keynote happening on the morning of 26th October called “How AI will Humanise Every Customer Journey” by Salesforce. AI is having such an impact in every aspect of our future and I am looking forward to hear Salesforce’s take on how this will change customer experience as we know it.

Q:What percentage of local startups as compared to international startups will be presenting at M20/20?

A:I would say two thirds of the start-ups attending the conference are either local or international businesses with offices established in Asia. Another one third will include start-ups from abroad who are coming over to explore the region through our Summit.

Q:I see from your profile that you are also an investor, do you wish there were more female-led businesses to invest in?

A:It is encouraging to see so many up and coming women entrepreneurs making a change. More female-led businesses means that there are even more great minds developing great ideas, which is something that I’m always on the lookout for!

Q:What do you look for in a business, before investing in them?

A:Before investing in a company, some key aspects I look out for include:

The founder/founders of the company
What their dynamic is like and whether they have the ability to execute their vision

The X-factor
How unique the company’s proposition and business model is versus how it compares to what’s already in the market;

Their commercial traction to-date
What’s the full size of the opportunity? Data points which demonstrates growth trajectory such as the percentage of repeat customers/retention are important to share too.

Mining insights will enable you to understand how you’re doing in the online landscape, establish what’s happening in a real-time environment and can be used to drive more growth.

Q:There are many aspiring female entrepreneurs here in Singapore and Asia, what advice would you give them?

A: DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY VEERING OFF YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

There’s always a fear about launching a business and then changing track. But a trial and error process is part and parcel of finding out what works. I think sometimes pivoting your business model can be the smartest thing you can do. If your business model is failing, try something else. We speak to so many incredible start-ups and companies and the ones that succeed don’t always do what they started off with.

RECOGNISE THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA

One of the things we have today that entrepreneurs didn’t have 15 or 20 years ago is the opportunity to leverage on data, or as I’d like to call it, a business’ best friend. Mining insights will enable you to understand how you’re doing in the online landscape, establish what’s happening in a real-time environment and can be used to drive more growth. Today, we can understand our customers better than ever before, but unless you know how to use the data and apply it, it’s useless.

It’s really competitive out there! Everyone’s got ideas but in the end, it’s all about the execution.

FIND A MENTOR

When I first sought a mentor, I was quite afraid to ask for their help, but you’d be surprised at how willing people are to offer assistance and advice. Also, it’s important to remember that mentorship can be two-way street too. There’s a lot that we can learn from young and disruptive entrepreneurs!

BUILD YOUR NETWORK BEFORE YOU NEED IT

This is a piece of advice I received when I was starting out and it’s proved invaluable over time. Just get out there, whether your business is up and running or not. I went from having a very senior role on my business card to giving out my gmail address. I’m sure there were people who must’ve thought ‘who are you?’ but I put myself out there and spoke to as many people as possible. You never know who you might call on later or who may call on you. In fact, I actually met my business partner about a year before I got back in touch with him.

BE WILLING TO STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

It’s really competitive out there! Everyone’s got ideas but in the end, it’s all about the execution. So push yourself as an entrepreneur, embrace uncertainty and always look for new opportunities. If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re not really innovating and trying.

Written By

Co-founder and Business Development Director of LadyBoss, Melissa is a multi-hyphenate. Her other role is at BiTS (a business intelligence tech startup in Singapore) as their chief marketer and consults for various other startups. She dreams of saving the world. When she's not working, you'll find her soaking up the sun at the beach or enjoying a strong cocktail at a fancy bar! Connect with her on LinkedIn:

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