Events ban over coronavirus to have a ‘significant’ impact says Heavy Chef founder

Featured image: Heavy Chef CEO Fred Roed speaking onstage last night at Workshop 17 in Cape Town (Sandras J Phiri via Twitter)

The SA government’s ban on all events with over 100 people because of the coronavirus (Covid-19), will have a “significant” impact on Heavy Chef’s revenue, the organisation’s founder and CEO Fred Roed said today.

Roed (pictured above) announced in a newsletter to subscribers earlier today that due to the coronavirus, Heavy Chef was cancelling its The Futurists events featuring Dion Chang among others, which was expected to be held on 31 March.

“Over the next 24 hours, we will be emailing everyone who bought tickets shortly with details of refunds,” Roed said in the newsletter.

In addition, All Heavy Chef’s big gatherings for the next three months have been cancelled, he said. “We will still be holding select workshops for paying members, but anyone who has bought tickets will be refunded their ticket price in full,” said Roed in the newsletter.

Each month Heavy Chef hosts a number of events across the country aimed at startups, with anything between 150 and 450 people attending, depending on topic and speaker. Tickets to each event cost R250.

Heavy Chef is fast tracking the development of a digital learning platform following the SA government’s ban on events of over 100 people

However, Roed told Ventureburn today that Heavy Chef has other revenue streams, which he said the company will leverage “heavily” over the next six months. These include book sales, content partnerships and research partners.

“We just turned three years old as a company, and our plan has always been to offer membership to entrepreneurs who want to access our learning platform. As a result of this, we’re fast-tracking the development and rollout of this platform,” he added.

In addition the company is considering offering digital-only events.

Said Roed: “We do this (offer digital events) anyway for specific members. We’re chatting with our speakers, partners and venue providers as to how we can do this in a more innovative way,” he said.

South Africa’s first coronavirus case was confirmed on 5 March, but Roed told Ventureburn today that Heavy Chef had seen no drop off in attendance at events before the ban.

“Heavy Chef was a silver partner at the Yoco Exchange event on Saturday at Fox Junction in Johannesburg. There were around 500 SME owners and entrepreneurs in attendance. No masks, but a lot of foot tapping and elbow knocking,” he aded.

He said to his knowledge no one had fallen ill that was suspected of coronavirus at any of the events.

Roed reckons that business owner can expect to see a slowdown in business in general, but not because of the lack of events.

“This crisis is going to have a profound impact on the startup scene in general. This is primarily because of the knock-on effect of travel restrictions,” he pointed out.

Editor’s note (16 March 2020): In the initial version of this story we described Heavy Chef as an “events organisation”. However, following the publication of this article, the organisation’s founder Fred Roed said it was more accurate to describe Heavy Chef as an “entrepreneur organisation”.

“Our revenue is derived from education classes, research, workshops and content — and events form part of that,” he explained.

Read more: SA tech startups put in place measures to tackle coronavirus
Read more: How Startup Grind chapters in SA are responding to the coronavirus threat

Featured image: Heavy Chef CEO Fred Roed speaking onstage last night at Workshop 17 in Cape Town (Sandras J Phiri via Twitter)



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