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Client Q&A

Q&A with Dorothy Kelso Global Head of SuperReturn

It has been incredibly helpful to have BackBay partner with SuperReturn, leveraging their expertise and network in private capital to amplify our own marketing efforts, raise the profile of our conferences, and be a trusted advisor.

The SuperReturn series runs the world’s leading private equity, private credit, and venture capital events. What three things have changed the most in how you conduct your business since your first event in 1998?

SuperReturn launched its first conference, SuperReturn International, in 1998. It was designed to serve the private equity community, providing a platform for senior professionals and industry specialists to meet, network, share intelligence, learn and return to their businesses with more connections and knowledge.

In tandem with the growth of the private capital industry over the years, and the increasing demand for its offering, the SuperReturn series has expanded the number, size and type of events. Today, the SuperReturn brand includes over 15 specialist annual events across 4 continents in the fields of private equity, venture capital, private credit, private infrastructure and energy.

COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of digitization within private equity, with the virtual conference format coming to the fore. How did you shift gears to keep event attendance and engagement up?

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, we were singularly focused on keeping the private capital community connected and informed. We launched a brand-new virtual conference, SuperReturn Virtual, within 12 weeks of the start of lockdown in the United Kingdom, providing an online platform for senior executives to share insights and have virtual meetings. The conference was the first of its type in the industry, attracting over 500 institutional investors, fund managers and service providers, and included a keynote by David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group.

Throughout the remainder of 2020 and the first half of 2021, we continued to focus on providing high-quality virtual events for our audience, differentiated from other providers in the industry by the scale of the conferences (some had over 1,300 registered attendees), the seniority of speakers and registrants, the technology platforms we used and the breadth of topics, geographies and market segments we covered.

As competition in the fundraising landscape continues to intensify, have you noticed an amplified focus on networking events like SuperReturn? How important is it for the private capital community to attend industry events in person?

The trillion-dollar private capital industry has resolutely remained a people business even as it has grown in size and scope. At its core, institutional investors still look to find and invest in high-performing fund teams for significant periods of time. As such, we have seen more demand than ever before to meet face-to-face and network at our conferences as fundraising has intensified.

The pandemic further resulted in a pent-up demand for face-to-face networking and meetings. As the world opened up again in the second half of 2021, we successfully ran 10 face-to-face conferences across the world in just 13 weeks, including SuperInvestor in London in September, SuperReturn North America in Boston in October, SuperReturn International in Berlin in November and SuperReturn Asia in Hong Kong in December.

How important is the role of public relations and marketing in raising awareness and attendance for your events?

It has been incredibly helpful to have BackBay partner with SuperReturn on a number of our conferences, leveraging their knowledge, expertise and network in private capital to amplify our own marketing efforts, raise the profile of our conferences, and be a trusted sounding board and advisor.

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