Exploring the Power of Community with Playbook
A recurring topic that captivates the current zeitgeist among LinkedIn content creators is the undeniable and transformative influence of community. The bridge to growing this community is networking. It’s about establishing connections and building relationships with like minded individuals or those with diverse perspectives, across various industries and age groups. This can prove to be the linchpin that propels your careers through various life phases. LinkedIn is replete with stories that underscore the importance of fostering these connections to shape your career trajectory.
Enter Playbook - a digital platform whose founders grasp the profound importance of community dynamics. It has evolved into a formidable learning community specifically designed for women, by women - serving as a catalyst in shaping their career paths. But how do they do this?
In an exclusive conversation with Shreya Rammohan, the Co-Founder & CMO of Playbook, we uncover the massive impact they achieved in a remarkably short span through their engaging digital platform. Let’s delve in.
Nurturing a digital community
Over the past decade, the MENA region has made significant strides in redefining the role of women within the professional landscape. Encouraging statistics appear, portraying a reality where women actively embrace entrepreneurial roles and ascend to leadership positions. However, the journey is far from complete. Despite the progress, there still exists a substantial gap that must be bridged for women to occupy more expansive roles across all professional spheres. Central to this endeavour is a robust and supportive community that they can rely on. This is what the founders of Playbook sought to actualise.
Shreya shares, “The inspiration behind starting Playbook was rooted in the founders' recognition of the need for a comprehensive platform that addresses the unique challenges faced by women in the professional landscape. We were driven by a commitment to transform leadership dynamics, foster diversity, and create an ecosystem that empowers women globally.”
The founders envisioned Playbook not merely as a networking platform but as a holistic learning ecosystem where women could access valuable resources, mentorship, and opportunities across various industries and geographies. And today, their digital space serves this exact purpose.
The initial manifestation of this vision was their offline MVP event, titled as the “Women Power Summit”, which pulled in incredible engagement - 6000+ attendees, 300+ live masterclasses & panel discussions, delivered by over 400+ Arab women leaders - proving that they were on the right track.
What’s different - A multifaceted approach
Playbook seeks to set themselves apart in the MENA region by offering a multifaceted approach to career development. They do this largely through their diverse range of services:
Gamified masterclasses: Playbook's masterclasses use storytelling and real-world experiences from relatable role models. The gamified approach not only makes learning engaging but also rewards completion with certificates and the opportunity to book 1:1 sessions with industry leaders.
Hybrid networking: Playbook's networking approach is hybrid, fostering a collaborative environment where members soundboard off one another, arrive at solutions, and expand their professional networks.
Membership benefits that go beyond traditional networking: Playbook's exclusive membership offers a well-stacked library of educational content, virtual lounges for networking, curated resources, and marketplaces for jobs and perks.
The definitions of success are plenty
For the founders, success is more than just numbers. Shreya believes, “It is a sum of the achievements of the individuals that make up our community, women who have leveraged Playbook’s resources to advance their careers, get promoted, secure jobs, find internships, make friends in a new country, get recognised for awards, receive interview opportunities, promote their business/products etc. The Testimonials page on our website highlights their transformative experiences”.
Playbook’s impact is not just anecdotal; it’s backed by numerous awards and accolades. Shreya proudly shares the numbers with us, “The platform has witnessed significant growth, boasting 4,000+ members in 200+ cities across 50+ countries and 26 industry verticals.”
Playbook has been awarded the Female Founder track at GITEX Global 2022, TIE Dubai GITEX 2023, TIE Global KSA 2023, and has emerged as the National Winner of the Entrepreneurship World Cup.
Arab News has even acknowledged Playbook as the "Startup of the Week," featuring the platform in their key article "Made in KSA - the female entrepreneurs helping to grow Saudi Arabia's economy."
Community-led investment & exciting collaborations
Despite a substantial $3 billion raised by startups in the MENA region in 2021, less than 1% of that capital flowed to women-led startups, states WAMDA. But despite these funding challenges, Playbook navigated these frontiers with resilience. It successfully raised a $700K Pre-Seed Round in January 2022, backed by prominent investors, such as 500 Global, Faith Capital, Sanabil Investments, and more.
The digital platform has now opened its $1.5 million Seed Round, deliberately creating smaller ticket sizes to encourage first-time female angel investors to participate. An impressive milestone is the investment from 17 of Playbook’s own members, showcasing belief in the platform's capabilities.
Playbook is already in strategic collaborations with government organisations and private entities. Shreya informs us of a very crucial partnership, “We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with FutureX to support integration and access to E-learning and Training content in KSA. FutureX is the National eLearning Platform and is one of NELC's initiatives to empower the eLearning sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by providing services and initiatives to achieve integration in the ecosystem through local and global partnerships. Through this partnership Playbook’s educational content will be available throughout the Kingdom’s universities on the FutureX platform and aims to provide adaptive, efficient and relevant learning.”
Mentorship as the cornerstone
Perhaps one of the most compelling USPs of being part of the Playbook community is the exclusive access it provides to a robust network of professional mentors on the platform. The right mentor can single-handedly navigate individuals toward career success through seasoned advice and gentle guidance. Mentorship is truly the cornerstone of Playbook’s services and that is why they never compromise with the curation of their mentorship network.
“The mentor selection process at Playbook is rigorous, ensuring that mentors bring diverse expertise and experiences.”, Shreya affirms. “Mentors and Masters alike are reviewed through application processes, checklist reviews, strategic committee reviews and confirmed accordingly based on tenure, proven expertise, etc. Some mentors and masters are invited to the platform given their tremendous impact in their field.”
Looking forward to an expansive vision
As Playbook looks towards the future, its founders envision continuous evolution. Shreya shares their focus, stating, "A key focus in the upcoming year will be financial wellbeing and independence for women." Playbook aims not only to introduce innovative features but also to expand its geographical reach, ensuring women globally have access to empowering resources and a dynamic, inclusive space for career excellence.
Beyond the virtual handshakes and exchanged insights, Playbook represents a shift from networking to net impact. It's not just about building connections and learning lessons; it's about forging a collective force, a supportive ecosystem, that propels women globally towards achieving success in their respective careers with the right guidance and resources.