What it takes to be an “Event Manager”: Ritesh Marwadi
The epic debate about book smarts being better than street smarts or the other way around has been raging on forever. We’ve been undecided on the matter, but Ritesh’s story definitely tips the scales in favor of the latter. The director and founder of We Fear Silence Nepal started off scribbling ideas on scrap paper sitting in the last bench during Economics lectures. Considering that he had close to 15 back papers by that time the opportunity cost was insignificant. However, it took some deliberated decision making to quit school. Coming from a fairly strict Marwadi family, this news didn’t go down well and Ritesh was kicked out of home for a month.
That was a few years ago. Today he heads one of the most prominent event management companies in the country: We Fear Silence and is setting up to host events in London. Event management appears to be a really exciting profession to take up, considering your job is to… party. But there is more to it than what meets the eye. We catch up with Ritesh and dig in to find out what it takes to be an event manager.
TNM: You’ve had a lot on your plate lately, and you’ve been involved in so many different things from business to event management? What would you like people to think of as in terms of profession?
RM: I guess being called an entertainer wouldn’t sound too bad. It’s my job to entertain people, although there is a more commercial side to it all. But what I do basically revolves around making people enjoy themselves through parties and events.
TNM: So you relate more to being an event manager?
RM: Yes. I ran a chain of cafes called Mr. Beans and I was involved with four other companies in a span of 4-5 years. But my heart still remains in events. So I’ve moved my attention to just that and opened up an event company in London under the name of Live Entertainment. I’m planning to open one in Australia too in the next two years.
With events, I’m happy when I do it. I cherish the moments that people enjoy and recall even years down the line.
TNM: Tell us how it all started and what got you to decide on dropping out?
RM: Back when I was studying in India, I used to party a lot. Here, the party scene was a dud. The few parties I attended were a letdown. I guess that had something to do with it.
I had ideas brewing for quite some time before I thought of doing an event, and hopefully making some money out of it; which I did, Rs. 3000 of it to be exact. But, more importantly, people loved the party and I began improvising myself in it. Soon the profits started to increase. Three to eight, eight to twenty, twenty to eighty, eighty to two lakhs.
But college was an obstacle. Half the day I was struggling through classes and the rest of the day I was thinking about how I would survive the next day in college. I was never a good student and I had failed in 15 subjects by the fourth semester. All I did in my classes was plan the name of my next event, where I would do it, how I would do it. There was little point “ in continuing with the classes anyways so I decided to go with my heart.
TNM: That worked out well for you.
RM: Not at first. My parents were not happy about it one bit. Making people drink and smoke and party wasn’t in their list of things they wanted their son to make a living out of. So I had to leave my house and live with my friends for a month.
But that month I did two huge events, out of which, one was the first Hangover. These two events led me to an interview which my mom happened to read. And she was really proud of what I had been able to achieve in such a short period of time; they never expected that from me. Then, it so happened, they called me back home.
TNM: What is the difference in your field of work?
RM: I wanted a good team who shared the same passion about work as I did, and this is very important. It’s not your every day 9 to 5 grind. There are no set timings. You might be free the entire day, but then you end up working two nights straight. Having the right people is very important; luckily I have been blessed with some of the best and most capable people in my team.
Money is important for everyone. I know it because I don’t come from a wealthy family and every rupee has counted for me in the past three years.
TNM: You do have a good team, but you are pretty competent yourself too. Tell us about the awards you bagged.
RM: It was the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. Anybody from around the world studying in their Bachelor levels can apply for it. A friend suggested that I give it a shot, so I did. I won the first award in 2013 where
I represented Nepal in the Semi Finals. We came amongst the top 10, but our figures weren’t good enough to take us to the finals in Washington.
This is where I got lucky, and I did an event for EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) where the investors noticed me as someone with potential. They invested in me and we started Mr. Beans, and today with the same investors we have a company in London: Live Entertainment.
With the help of the investors I started Mr. Beans and we had 5 outlets in the span of seven months and they were raking in more than Rs.1 crore in a year. All this while I was preparing myself for next year’s award and this time I had the best scores out of the seven contestants. So, I was directly sent to Washington DC where I cleared the semifinals and came in seventh in the finals. And that’s being amongst the top seven in the entire world.
I might not have won, but that wasn’t the idea. The competition helped create global links for our company and now we have friends in 48 countries of the world.
TNM: Despite all the success that Mr. Beans was enjoying, you ultimately decided to step away from it.
RM: Food never really was my thing, and in spite of the success, my heart wasn’t in it. I’m sure someone who was more passionate about it could have done a better job with it. And especially after the earthquake, blockade and even some labor issues we decided it was better to close down Mr. Beans. And I wasn’t too miserable about it because it gave me the opportunity to be more focused on what I love most.
TNM: There are plenty of event management companies in the market. What does it take to stand out as an event management company?
RM: Money is important for everyone. I know it because I don’t come from a wealthy family and every rupee has counted for me in the past three years. However, compromising heavily on quality for the sake of money is a mistake that people make too often. Also, you’re never going to be able to sacrifice money if you’re not passionate about what you do; and this is exactly what is needed to be noticed.
The first and foremost formula for us has been to look at the even from a customer’s point of view and determine what they want. Most companies make the mistake of forgoing services due to lack of sponsorship and funds, such as compromising on the lights, sound quality etc. We try to build something that people will love and will be willing to pay anything to enjoy.
Secondly, you need to always keep your vendors happy. If your vendors are unhappy, they will do the job but they won’t do it to their best ability.
Also, smart marketing is a must. Properly designed marketing is the image that represents you to the people. Then, that brings us to creating and maintaining a good PR. I spend my Friday nights 7pm to 3 in the morning just connecting to people and exchanging cards. That helps me build a PR and also helps to send updates about events. This has been very effective and there has always been a 5% to 6% increment in the number of people in our events.
TNM: What do you do when things don’t go as planned?
RM: Work ahead of time and always have a plan B. We have our own generator if things don’t work properly at the venue, we have our own bartenders. Things can go wrong when you’re working on a tight schedule, so it’s imperative that you are well prepared for it beforehand.
And when you make mistakes, you learn from them and become better.
TNM: What would you say has been your best event till date?
RM: The Sunburn, definitely. It was our biggest event in our portfolio and it set a benchmark in Nepal. No one had expected
it to come to Nepal and no one even tried bringing it in because it caused was too big of a cost. But it looked like a worthy investment to us. Even if it didn’t reap any profits, it helped create a great link with the people. Today, they trust us with any event that is taken care of by We Fear Silence, regardless of whether the ticket is priced at Rs. 1000 or Rs. 10,000.
Bringing Anupam Kher to perform in Nepal was also memorable and it made a lot of noise; we were sold out a month before the event took place.
In terms of sheer mass, Hangover 4 was the biggest with 3278 coming to our event.