Can Under 25 Summit 2024 Act as a Catalyst for Youth-Driven Change?

In conversation with Under 25 about the festival's return and what's in store for this year.

There is a certain magic in being under 25. That phase where risks are badges of honour, mistakes are lessons and the belief in making a difference is the driving force. The Under 25 Summit, consistently reigniting this youthful energy, returns on March 9 and 10, 2024, at Bengaluru’s Jayamahal Palace. With a star-studded lineup, including Vikrant Massey and Siddhant Chaturvedi, this intellectual playground for over 100,000 students seeks to redefine the narrative of youth brilliance and independent thought leadership, amplified through The Under 25 Universe—a transformative learning-technology company recently acquired by Collective Artists Network, India’s pop culture marketplace.

We had a chat with the Under 25 team to discuss the festival’s return and showcase what’s in store for this year. Here are the edited highlights:

In a world where virtual connections are becoming more prevalent, how does Under 25 see its role in providing a unique and irreplaceable physical experience, and what aspects of Summit 2024 contribute to this distinctiveness?

The Under 25 Summit is a genre agnostic festival that brings together speakers, performers and artists from all walks of life to engage with the youth through various mediums like keynotes, panels, workshops and performances. The whole festival is built by the students from the ground up, hand in hand with our experienced team. With fresh talent coming in for each edition, in the form of Hustlers Collective, the team get to retain its agile youth-focused method of operations.

What sets the Under 25 Summit 2024 apart from previous editions? Can you highlight some unique aspects or themes that attendees can look forward to?

The theme for the 2024 edition of the Under 25 Summit is Celebrate Confusion. The manifestation of this theme occurs in three ways – Head In the clouds, Heart on their sleeve and Hand in Hand.
Head in the clouds: The phrase “head in the clouds” refers to the state of imagination and endless possibilities that young people often have. They are dreamers who believe in the power of their colorful and imaginative minds.
Heart on their sleeve: The phrase “heart on their sleeve” refers to the way they openly and transparently express their emotions and beliefs without hesitation or reservation. They are not afraid to show their true selves and stand up for what they believe in.
Hand in hand: Hand in hand, they work together to bring their dreams and beliefs into reality. They take action and actively pursue their goals, using their skills and determination to bring out their individuality collectively.

The festival emphasises the discovery of new talent. How does Under 25 support emerging artists, and what can attendees expect in terms of showcasing fresh and innovative talent?

Each year, we reserve a certain amount of slots in our curation exclusively for student talent. We find these names through recommendations from our active student community, our own internal research and our pickings from our previous SACs or Summit At Campus. A SAC is a small-sized version of the Under 25 Summit that takes place within the four walls of a college. In the last four months, we have executed 10 SACs across 4 cities in India. Under 25 Summit also has the unique opportunity of being an established festival, being active in the scene for the last decade. This allows for industry peers to reach out to us with their emerging talent for us to add them to our curation.

The Summit attracts a significant number of students and thought leaders. How does the festival strike a balance between entertainment and education, creating an environment for both enjoyment and learning?

Having done this for the past decade – We believe it all boils down to carefully listening to what the student wants and curating our entire festival around it, while elevating attendee experience each year. The student community is always upto date with the latest trends, the latest music, the latest jobs and sectors – All of these insights are collected over the course of two months, when we’re at the planning phase of the festival. Thanks to our parent company Collective Artist Network, we have access to some of the biggest thoughts leaders in the country and our reach within 100+ campus across India, allows us to carefully listen to the pulse of India’s youth.

From an offline execution POV, every conversation, keynote or panel on the stages is designed with the sole intention of enabling students to learn something new. A slew student performances are sprinkled in the programming to keep the audience engaged. All the experience zones, stalls, art installations and festival look and feel are designed to evoke a feeling of playfulness that supports exploration.

Prajakta Kohli at the Under 25 Summit 2023

Having hosted notable speakers in the past, what can you tell us about the lineup of speakers for Summit 2024? Any surprises or new additions you can share?

Some of the notable Thought Leaders coming down are Nikhil Kamath, Tanmay Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Niharika Nm, Vikrant Massey among others and these are just part of our Phase 1 & 2 lineup, we are in the midst of our bonus lineup launch and that’s happening over at @under25official so do check it out!

We don’t have specific speakers we’re looking forward to hosting, we’re excited for each and every one of them to come have a fantastic time at the Summit. Some crowd favourites we’re excited to host is Kenny Sebastian, a fellow Bangalore boy who hosted the very first Under 25 Summit back in 2014, then there is Sidhant Bendi, an incredible acoustic signer from Hyderabad who has a regular sight on the Summit lineup. He is a personal favourite of the crew here at office and we look forward to seeing him everytime he takes the stage.

Crowd at the Under 25 Summit 2023 Photo: Under 25

The festival venue at Jayamahal Palace in Bangalore is iconic. Can you provide some tips and tricks for navigating the various venues and making the most out of the festival experience?

Jayamahal Palace will easily go down as one of the most iconic Under 25 Summit venues having hosted the 2018, 2019, 2020 Summits. The best part of the venue is access – Located right near the heart of Bangalore, it’s very easily accessible to students. The location is important as it plays a major role in overall attendee satisfaction and experience. Considering the Summit is happening in the second week of March, wear sunscreen and carry your caps/umbrellas unless you want to face the full wrath of the Bangalore heat.

For all the attendees attending the 2024 Summit at Jayamahal Palace, we urge them to ditch their personal vehicles and use public transport/carpool to get to the venue. Just like any other part of Bangalore, this one is also highly susceptible to traffic Jams. Every Summit veteran knows that each Summit day comes with its own unique fit check so we recommend taking this week to fully plan out what you want to wear. Apart from this, we invite you to fully explore the festival grounds, look at the schedule and make it your own. We also have unique curation of experience zones, enabling each attendee to feel “young” at every moment.

In addition to the scheduled events, how does Under 25 encourage networking and interaction among attendees, fostering a sense of community and collaboration?

Because the festival is entirely build by students, they develop a sense of ownership towards the Summit. It is theirs as much as it is ours. As soon as the first set of attendees step foot into the festival site, who are also most likely to be students just like them, they greet them with a deep sense of relatability, while keeping in mind the concept of personal space. In fact, we train out hustlers to ask solo attendees if they’ve come to experience the festival also and if yes, with their consent, join them to ensure they have a beautiful summit experience.

All of our activities cater to a wide range of interests, like Art & Culture, adventure, finance, dating and networking etc, that allows attendees to meet a wide range of people with similar interests. Some of these are adult colouring book zones, rage rooms, adult bouncy castle, face painting etc. When its comes to the programming, all artists and their topics are very carefully curated to keep the student at the core. The entire festival addresses the youth, as a community, all the time. They have built it, it is for them and it’s only possible with their participation and collaboration.

Reflecting on feedback from the previous year, how has the team worked to enhance the overall festival experience, particularly in terms of attendee comfort and facilities such as cleanliness and accessibility?

Based on the invaluable feedback from last year, we’ve made significant enhancements to elevate the experience at this year’s event. We’ve returned to Jayamahal Palace, our home ground, which is a more accessible venue with a compact layout for easier navigation. We are running a three stage setup this year and have spent a lot of time meticulous planning for attendee well-being.

Connectivity issues and difficulty in processing online transactions were raised as a concern by some attendees last year. Can you share any improvements or measures taken to address network-related challenges, ensuring that attendees can stay connected and engaged throughout the festival?

Recognising that the venue played a significant role in these issues, we’re pleased to inform you that this year’s festival will take place at Jayamahal Palace. Situated in a well-connected area of the city, we anticipate that this change in venue will substantially alleviate the connectivity concerns raised last year, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable online experience for all attendees.

For those attending the Under 25 Summit for the first time, what advice or recommendations would you give to ensure they have an unforgettable and enriching experience over the two days?

Be curious and go explore.

For more articles on festivals in India, check out our Read section of this website.

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