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How Siri Chakka is disrupting the meeting planning industry

Take the opportunity to get to know people who are not like you. You inadvertently surround yourself with people who generally believe the same things as you — you meet people in the same life stage as you in school, eventually joining a company where you are surrounded by like-minded folks — and become more insular […]

Take the opportunity to get to know people who are not like you. You inadvertently surround yourself with people who generally believe the same things as you — you meet people in the same life stage as you in school, eventually joining a company where you are surrounded by like-minded folks — and become more insular with the way you look at the world and solve problems. I’ve found that stepping out of our comfort zone and putting yourself out there to meet others in different spheres is immensely useful. Simply talking to someone who’s unlike you is incredibly valuable, and learning what they’re passionate about, worrying about, what makes them tick can help you bring new perspective on your own life and what you’re doing and helps you grow your ability to empathize with others.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Siri Chakka. Siri is the co-founder of Reset, a startup disrupting the meeting planning industry. Reset’s technology connects a unique network of meeting and event spaces with businesses seeking innovative and inspiring meeting and offsite events.Prior to founding Reset, Siri was the Chief Strategy Officer of a B2B SaaS startup, and worked in corporate strategy consulting and private equity operational turnarounds for several years. Siri’s work took her to seven countries across four continents in industries like consumer products, mining, and software. Of all the places she’s been to, her favorite was Istanbul and the most unique was Novosibirsk! She holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois — Urbana Champaign and an MBA from the University of Texas — Austin. In her free time, she enjoys the live music scene and finding the best tacos in Austin, TX and loves cooking Indian food for her friends.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ididn’t start grad school with a burning desire to be an entrepreneur, but moving to Austin has that effect on people sometimes. It’s hard not to catch the entrepreneurial bug when you’re surrounded by a community that is constantly innovating and finding solutions to new and existing problems, and that’s really supportive towards female and first time entrepreneurs.

I did have years of experience creating strategies for other companies, but rarely executed on my own. At first, I started by doing small projects for startups in Austin during school and a stint in product management at Amazon, and joined a B2B SaaS startup after I got my MBA working remotely out of Austin.

As others that work remote can tell you, it’s fun for the first month and then you go a little crazy. Little did I know, this was the impetus for Reset. Working remotely was my first introduction to the world of co-working, and found the workplace trends moving towards more remote work and distributed teams fascinating. When it came to finding a solution for my remote work situation, I found co-working to be too expensive for my needs, and it got the wheels turning on how to make workspace more accessible to remote and distributed teams.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

As more companies invest in remote workforce programs, team meetings and offsite gatherings at unique spaces are becoming an increasingly large piece of the employee engagement equation. The executive assistants, marketing professionals, and meeting planners of these companies take on a large part of the burden of planning these meetings, having to painstakingly research, contact, and secure venues, catering, and sometimes even equipment. The venue is usually the first thing that has to be chosen, so it’s really important to get a quality place and get it secured easily, allowing the rest of the pieces to fall in place. Meetings can take anywhere from 2 weeks prior to several months of planning depending on the length and number of people, which can be a large time burden on the planners who typically have other roles to fulfill. Reset helps shoulder the burden and reduce the cost by handling the time-intensive process of finding, book and planning large corporate meetings and are there through the whole planning process until day-of.

On the other side of the equation, Reset helps their space vendors, who are typically local restaurants, bars, and creative venues, monetize their beautiful spaces while they are not being used. Amidst rising labor costs and rent in major cities, this is especially beneficial to them from both top-line and marketing standpoints.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I had this great mentor at my consulting firm when I lived in Chicago. Eric was a new partner at the firm and the project we were starting was going to be his first with us, and I was a newly promoted senior consultant. Moving from a data-focused role to a client-focused role was a big transition for me, and Eric took a front-seat approach to getting me ramped up. He pushed me into new and at-first uncomfortable situations like presenting to people twice my age, building solid and logic-driven decks, and managing my first analyst. Sometimes he did it with no notice (like telling me the night before I was going to be helping him present to the CEO of our Fortune 500 client), but his genuine interest in my professional development is a big reason I was able to continue moving up in that firm and take on the leadership roles I’ve taken more recently in my career. In an industry that can be quite exclusionary, Eric and the rest of the partners at that firm did a fantastic job of creating a highly inclusionary environment based on merit and impact.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Share your journey. I read this in an interview with the CEO of GoldieBlox on Linkedin, where she shared the biggest piece of advice she had recently been given was to write everything down. She spoke about writing about her journey, about the wins and the trials of running a company, about female leadership, and the importance of bringing others along on her journey. My co-founder and I took a page out of her book and started blogging our journey when we first started Reset — we talked about starting a business with your best friend, we wrote about our frustration with the abysmal investment rate in female founders, we shared wins and we shared hardships and we found that people were reading it and finding value! I had people message me thanking me for sharing as they were earlier in their journeys — sharing your journey is a great way of helping others without even realizing it!!

Take the opportunity to get to know people who are not like you. You inadvertently surround yourself with people who generally believe the same things as you — you meet people in the same life stage as you in school, eventually joining a company where you are surrounded by like-minded folks — and become more insular with the way you look at the world and solve problems. I’ve found that stepping out of our comfort zone and putting yourself out there to meet others in different spheres is immensely useful. Simply talking to someone who’s unlike you is incredibly valuable, and learning what they’re passionate about, worrying about, what makes them tick can help you bring new perspective on your own life and what you’re doing and helps you grow your ability to empathize with others.

Keep an open mind and stay nimble. Your first idea or your first draft of your concept is most probably not going to be what you launch with, or what it’ll be 1 year later. Always take customer feedback and iterate quickly. Pivoting is not a sign of defeat, it’s more that you’ve learned something to help your company evolve to its next chapter. This is exactly what we’ve done at Reset, and it’s working. We loved our co-working idea for Reset, but found that we could better impact our partner’s bottom-lines and provide more value to our community by pivoting to meeting spaces.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We are shaking up the hotel meeting industry. No more boring meetings in a stale ballroom. We’re pairing businesses with restaurants, bars, and creative spaces use their underutilized spaces to help companies with their offsite meetings here in Austin. We want to take this business and expand it to other cities like Austin! Tier 2 cities are growing fast and are increasingly becoming destinations for companies and young professionals, and we want to be there to help these cities leverage their existing spaces and grow more sustainably.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Setting the Table was written by restaurateur Danny Meyer in 2006, when Shake Shack was just a single stand within Central Park. The book is about his background, successes, and failures by restaurant in the early nineties and 2000s.

A large theme of his book was that nothing would ever matter more to him than how his team expressed hospitality to one another. I was always under the impression that the customer should come first, but Meyer argued (rightly so) that without respecting and prioritizing his employees, they would be unable to serve their guests, their community, their suppliers, and finally their investors. As we build our team at Reset, this is a huge part of how my co-founder and I work with each other and our venue partners to give our customers the best experience.

Meyer talks a lot about his tenets of hospitality and customer retention. His breakdown of the differences between service and hospitality — service is the technical delivery of a product, hospitality is how that delivery makes its recipients feel — floored me. There are so many faceless products and services out there now and while that’s fine for many cases, Reset wants to be different. My co-founder and I are the product, along with our partners, and we know we’ve delivered a successful product when our customers are thrilled with the outcome, come back, and tell others about us.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In developing and developed countries, access to education is still an issue because of inequailites of sex (54% of the non-schooled population is girls), health, and background. Education is at the root of a lot of society’s predicaments — it reduces poverty, boosts economic growth, reduces disease rates, reduces maternal deaths, and increases life spans.

Many emerging countries don’t have the resources to create schools, build content, and train teachers. In many developed countries (like our own), we don’t pay our teachers enough for the huge value they provide to our future generations.

I would love to inspire a movement for the community to step up and help fill in these gaps, whether it be helping build schools, taking a year to teach in schools (like City Year or Teach For America), donating time to tutor kids in afterschool programs, entrepreneurs building ed-tech solutions, writing letters to our congresspeople to make education a funding priority, etc. Although I know a lot of the responsibility for change sits with local and state governments, there is a lot we can do on the ground to bridge the gap in access to education for our youth.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I read this quote the other day — “If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 letters — 204 if you’re in Japan.” It was by the author Claire Cook in her book Seven Year Switch, a novel about a mother and daughter switching gears when the father pops back up in their lives. While that story doesn’t apply to my life, the quote definitely does. When I was in high school, I thought I would be a journalist traveling abroad, but that plan didn’t even get off the ground and I studied engineering instead. But then I wasn’t even an engineer when I graduated and went into consulting! When I was 23 I thought I would be married and settled down by the time I was 30, probably in the Chicago suburbs somewhere with kids and dogs running around. But life had other plans, some in my control and some not, which led me to eating an unhealthy amount of tacos in Austin while running a startup in hospitality, of all industries!

I think having a plan is great. But being flexible and reminding yourself that there are endless possibilities is even better — you don’t know what life is going to throw at you or when what you want changes, so just buckle in for the ride.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on LinkedIn and @sirichakka on Medium, and follow our company Reset at @resetatx on Instagram and @resetatx on Facebook.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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