Orate is a Startup to Connect Speakers with Speaking Gigs

May 23, 2015

6:00 pm

When our startup moved into a cool new shared office space in Tysons Corner, we took it upon ourselves to do something every startup joining a new office should do: find out who the neighbors are. In our case, we ran into a celebration in the kitchen where our startup neighbors Orate were celebrating a mention in Inc Magazine.

Orate is a Washington DC area-based startup that helps event and conference organizers find speakers. Speakers can create a profile for free and wait for the speaking gis to roll in. I speak at a few conferences every year and most of my speaking comes from referrals or conference organizers themselves, so I thought it was a neat idea to have something like an exchange where event organizers and speakers can be in one database.

In what turned out to be a impromptu interview with Sara Capra, cofounder of Orate, I learnt that unlike traditional speaker bureaus, Orate is not exclusive to fee-based minimum. Sara told me that they are doing a good job finding speakers, especially related to Women in Technology. Since many of my friends may be reading this who are excellent speakers on this topic, I would recommend registering at Orate.

Orate Founders Veronica and Sara


Back to the celebration which lead me to discover Orate – Chris Heivly, cofounder of MapQuest and now managing director of Startup Factory, wrote the story What’s All This Mess About Building Your Personal Brand?  in Inc Magazine. In it, Heivly advises using the branding tools that are easily available such as blogs, Twitter, guest posting, and of course… seeking speaking engagements. It is a good list and you should read the article.



I asked Sara about 3 pieces of advice she could pass on to other startups on building branding awareness. Here’s what she said:


  • Be ready to strategically communicate your idea to any audience. Whether at a networking event or on a train, have your message, and call-to-action ready.
  • Create valuable content that educates, inspires, and creates awareness
  • Have multiple (but targeted) promotion channels for your brand (hint: create a list of champions you can call on to help get the word out about milestones, etc.)

The advice to have your message ready is on target. Whether you are a startup or a big brand, everyone needs to know and believe what exactly the company does. The advice to have a “call to action” ready is new for me but it makes complete sense. You never know who you will meet on your next Metro ride. I have actually interviewed startups in elevators and also taken videos of them in the 30 second elevator ride, so be ready.

Event planners, PR folks, and speakers, your call to action is to check out Orate and I’ll see you at the next event with a speaker from Orate. We love our neighbors and our shared Metro Offices in Tysons Corner.


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Shashi Bellamkonda is the Chief Marketing Officer at Surefire Social. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Shashi is passionate about helping startups and small business and has been recognized twice as one of the Top 100 Tech Titans by the Washingtonian and Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champion 2011 by Small Business Trends. Follow him on Twitter @shashib.

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