Another busy week here at TableCrowd with three dinners of diverse subjects. We kicked off the week on Tuesday with a dinner about child-friendly co-working and we were joined by Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council for a discussion about options for flexible childcare. On Wednesday, we had tapas and drinks with Daniel Benamram from BlaBlaCar and guests from the sharing economy, whilst over at Lima Floral we caught up with Sheena Morjaria from TIS Ventures to hear about her role in the start-up adventure.
Co-working and flexible childcare dinner with Cllr Sarah Hayward
We had a great discussion about flexible childcare at The Green on Tuesday night, and we were fortunate to be joined by Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council. Sarah has a special interest in options for women who want to continue to work after having children, and it was great to have a speaker from the political sector to join in the debate.
Sarah spoke about the difficulties of introducing flexible hours in the corporate world. Camden Council are working with small and medium business yet there are still difficulties for these companies to have flexible working hours. Nevertheless, local tech companies are the ones who are more open to workers having flexible hours. Sarah also mentioned how the integration back into the workplace for women after they’ve had children can be difficult, and this isn’t helped by the recession.
Dine with TIS Ventures, seed investors in UK, Middle East & India
Over at Lima Floral, we had the pleasure of dining with Sheena Morjaria from TIS Ventures. TIS Ventures is a Dubai-based venture capital and corporate advisory boutique, and Sheena was in town for just a few days this week so we were glad we caught her!
In the tech world, you either evolve or die.
For Sheena, evolution is very important for start-ups; if something isn’t working, don’t keep banging the drum. She explained how TIS Ventures works, as they are involved in investments from the very beginning. They work from incubation level right to the finish, which can be a very intense relationship. As she says:
We’re like your friends and family, but not as nice!
Despite this, she attests that people are surprisingly approachable in this arena, and encouraged her diners not to be daunted by preconceptions of venture capitalists.
Dine with BlaBlaCar – 2o million members in 18 countries
Last but not least at dinner on Wednesday, we also got the chance to hear about the evolution of BlaBlaCar, Europe’s largest ride-sharing website whose aim is to rival trains on price and convenience. BlaBlaCar’s cost-sharing model means there is no profit involved, and also their initial focus was to concentrate on making their rides cheaper than trains, as they progress, they also become more convenient as more drivers sign up. Daniel said the dream is to connect the whole of Europe so that eventually you will be able to use their service to ride from Scotland to Germany, all in the comfort of a BlaBlaCar!
The concept keeps me motivated all the time.
Daniel has been with BlaBlaCar since their early days and on Wednesday night he shared with us some of his tips on how to grow a business:
- Adapt your product to make it relevant to each country.
- Tackle people’s perception of your business. We worked on our insurance policy to make sure people felt confident using something unfamiliar.
- Invest in your PR. We worked with journalists closely to ensure they understood how it worked.
- Think about specific partnerships. E.g. we launched at music festivals as we knew BlaBlaCar would appeal to students.
- Paid marketing campaigns pay off!
Our speakers were joined by: MyBeautyMatches.com, Aztec Ventures, WellVine, Huntable, MyGravity, Bubblo, movivo, Winkley Studios, Third Door, Unilever, Bloomsbury Beginnings, London Early Years Foundation, Startup Mums, Deutsche Bank, Work&Wellness, Haven+Hive, Officrèche, Harden’s, Localoids, myDriver, Compare and Share, Atomico, and Indusa amongst others.
Special thanks to our speakers, Sarah Hayward, Sheena Morjaria and Daniel Benamran.
Check out our upcoming TableCrowd dinners to see if you’ll be joining us soon.