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Learn how to recession-proof your startup and more with these Disrupt roundtables

·6-min read

I tell you what, folks. The roundtable discussions at TechCrunch Disrupt — coming to you live and in person on October 18-20 in San Francisco with an online day October 21 — will be off the hook.

We asked you to weigh in on our roundtable poll and vote for the topics you want at Disrupt. The winners you selected truly put the choice in “Audience Choice.” We’ve already told you about the first, second and third sets of winners, and we’re ready to reveal the next. But first…

Disrupt for less: You can more than $1,000 — if you buy your pass to Disrupt before prices go up on Friday, August 5 at 11:59 pm PDT.

Disrupt attendees love roundtables — 30-minute, expert-led discussions designed for up to 20 attendees who share an interest in a particular subject. The format allows for deeper conversation, questions and answers and time for attendees to connect and explore collaborative opportunities.

These five roundtables cover a range of interesting topics, including the power of combining your company’s data and culture, focusing on revenue growth during an economic downturn, investing in diversity, funding student founders and learning the essential art of persuasion.

Harnessing data and culture at scale

Speaker: Christine Spang, the co-founder and CTO at Nylas

At the end of the day, great businesses serve two groups — their customers and their people. For companies pursuing growth, operational scale and transformational product innovation, these two groups must be in sync and woven into the fabric of the company and how it makes strategic decisions.

During this roundtable, Spang and participants will discuss how founders and business leaders can harness the power of their data and their culture in order to make the best decisions possible for their customers and their people.

How to recession-proof your SaaS startup

Speaker: Haseeb Budhani, the co-founder and CEO at Rafay Systems

During economic downturns, and when resources are in short supply, companies must find ways to reduce costs and still deliver on business goals. In such situations, B2B SaaS companies are in a prime position not to just stay afloat but also to find avenues of growth. How? Consuming critical capabilities as SaaS allows for quick and easy scaling of services — net-net, organizations can better use their resources for innovation and to reduce costs and deliver on company goals in times of economic distress.

In this roundtable, we'll discuss why SaaS startups must rethink their strategy during economic downturns and evolve their go-to-market strategies to focus on revenue growth while reducing their overall total cost of ownership.

Making venture more accessible

Speaker: Ryan Nece, the co-founder and managing partner at Next Play Capital

Has the actual flow of capital and the makeup of teams at VC funds caught up to the press releases and sound bites? Despite increased awareness about the inequities in venture funding, many barriers remain for both women- and POC-led startups seeking financing — and for job seekers hoping to land a coveted opportunity at a VC firm.

Although a record number of VCs have shared their intentions to better support underrepresented founders, VC remains an exclusive insider's club. Meanwhile, as the trend of athlete VCs continues to rise, many of these often diverse investors are leading by example — by backing diverse founders and teams.

During this roundtable session, we'll discuss:

  • Steps for change

  • The best ways to vet opportunities

  • A playbook for investing in diversity

Starting early: The how-tos of investing in student founders

Speaker: Melissa Li, the head of community and managing partner at Dorm Room Fund

Melissa Li will speak about the importance of investing in student founders to rescue the future of tech — by closing the persistent gender and diversity gap and addressing geographic inequalities and network asymmetries facing founders.

In this roundtable, we'll discuss:

  • Why universities are a crucial touchpoint for transforming representation, diversity and inclusion across VC and startups

  • Ways to structure university-based or alumni-focused mentoring programs and accelerators/incubators to uplift diverse founders and promote a range of business types

  • How to structure campus-first initiatives — like seed funds, alumni angel groups or crowdfunded small-business loan programs — to place emerging tech hub cities and growing local ecosystems on the map

Art of persuasion: How to convince people to work with you

Speaker: Trisha Bantigue, the co-founder and CEO at Queenly

As a founder, the most important lesson I've learned is mastering the art of persuasion. It allows you to convince just about anyone to work with you and to believe in your ability to execute a vision. It lets you pitch confidently to show investors your company’s big picture and convince them that you are worth investing in.

Getting a co-founder to sacrifice their current stability and work with you for no pay requires proving you're a trustworthy partner and that you won't quit on them when the going gets tough. Recruiting top talent and building out a team means selling the potential upside of joining early and inspiring them to follow you as their leader.

These essential interpersonal skills are often overlooked when the topic of "what makes a great founder" comes up in tech articles, TED talks, podcasts, etc. You frequently hear about grit and technical skills, but those are useless if you can't convince anyone to be on your team.

In this roundtable, we’ll discuss tools and tactics that can help you convince others to be your advocate, stick with you till the very end — success or failure — and be better equipped as you build your company.

TechCrunch Disrupt takes place in person on October 18-20 in San Francisco with an online day October 21. Buy your pass before the early-bird pricing disappears on Friday, August 5 at 11:59 pm PDT, and you can save more than $1,000.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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