1. My Story: Against all odds

My Story: Against all odds

I have been a start-up person since 1992! First, as a person starting up a new business in an existing organisation (media buying in Lintas in 1992) and later, setting up a new function in a sunrise industry (a sales and marketing company for Zee TV in 1994).

Published: March 8, 2016 12:04 AM

I took the plunge without dwelling on what-ifs : Chraneeta Mann, Co-Founder, The Mob

The Mob was announced two days after I moved on from Rediffusion. The fastest shift ever from employee to entrepreneur — the idea being to take the plunge without much dwelling on ‘what-ifs’.

There is nothing more daunting than a whiteboard that still has to have a client’s name scribbled across it. And perhaps no greater adrenaline rush than to see that board fill up. Over eight months, The Mob has taken precedence over all things else. In this roller coaster ride of triumphs and trials, of building an organisation bit by bit, we have been fortunate to put out campaigns like Videocon’s Rakhi ad and Vistara’s Pehli Diwali campaign.

We saw many ‘friends’ just fade away when we announced the start-up, but we were fortunate to have the infrastructure in place and talent which moved with us from our earlier organisations. A couple of former clients backed their faith in us by trusting us with their business from the day we opened shop. A couple of large brands did not even ask us how large our team or office was, plunging into the journey with us because they liked the passion and quality of ideation we brought to the table.

With Sandeep Goyal investing in us, we could offer proprietary mobile targeted communication through Mobocracy, India’s first mobile solutions agency. His tie up with Israeli company Idomoo helped us offer unprecedented solutions like mobile personalised videos. This access to tech and our penchant for creative coexisting with the latest innovations in the social media space are really what make us a mobile-first agency, communicating in line with the future and not at odds with it.

Today, we operate from Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. We have created India’s first mobile catalogue for Titan. We work with highly targeted Twitter tools like TagDash, provide creative support to Star Star, a revolutionary CTA connecting brands to their audiences and have expanded our client list.

Nitin Suri, co-founder at The Mob, has partnered me for 17 years now and no matter what the crisis, there’s always one of us telling the other to shake it off and stay the course. Time is scarce; my children just have to be more independent, and I live out of jeans rather than spend time deciding what to wear. But given the choice between adding on a couple of worry lines as proof of what I’ve accomplished and adding on a spa visit, I’d choose the former anytime!

Entrepreneurs are adrenaline junkies: Meenakshi Menon, Chairman, Spatial Access

I have been a start-up person since 1992! First, as a person starting up a new business in an existing organisation (media buying in Lintas in 1992) and later, setting up a new function in a sunrise industry (a sales and marketing company for Zee TV in 1994).

In 1997, I set up India’s first media planning and buying independent, Carat. Industry leaders ganged up against me. Fortunately, the ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers) which was headed by J C Chopra took a more reasonable view and supported the need for media independents. There were a few media people like Pradeep Guha (then head of responses at The TOI), I Venkat of Eenadu and Subhash Chandra of Zee who stood by me and gave me the confidence to stand firm. Very soon, the rest of the industry followed suit and every one of the vocal detractors launched their own media specialists.

I launched Spatial Access later, India’s first media audit and analytics venture. It was déjà vu — resistance, industry pushback, lobbying and politics. A decade later, not only has Spatial Access grown from strength to strength, but our ever expanding client list of over 150 advertisers is proof that marketers have come to rely on our services.

It has been difficult. I have made less money, made more enemies and agencies unhappy thanks to demands for increased accountability from their clients. Yet, given the option, I would do it all over again. I have put my money at risk but more importantly, I have staked my professional reputation on my ventures. It has been a big gamble but it has paid off.

Today, after 35 years in the industry, I know I am still inventing new games and playing by my rules; that’s a heady feeling. One of my biggest strengths has been the ability to attract and retain talent. Alyque Padamsee, one of my mentors, would always tell people who left Lintas that they were welcome back. He called this the rubberband effect. I have team members at Spatial who left and came back. They are my stars today. I truly believe that an organisation is only as good as its weakest link.

A lot has changed since I set up my first venture in 1997. Start-ups are the flavour of the season, the stakes have increased dramatically and age/experience is no longer a required ingredient.

However, what has stayed constant is the fact that entrepreneurs are adrenaline junkies who boldly go where no man or woman has gone before.

I never thought I would start my own venture: Priti Nair, Director, Curry-Nation

The start-up journey was something I thought I would never do since I have always been a ‘be safe and comfortable’ kind of a person. A job always sounded secure. Many people, including many of my clients, had also asked me to start something of my own. Frankly, I was not sure if I had the sensibility to manage a business.

By the time I decided that I do not want to spend the rest of my life in advertising feeling miserable, I was more than ready and happy to take the step. It was difficult, yes! I was on my own. I had completely stopped thinking of anything creative at that time. MOA, AOA and more terms like these that I had never heard in my life had become routine conversations. I learnt a lot in the process.

Running from pillar to post, completing all the formalities/paperwork was all thanks to the help my family and friends provided me with. Finally, in a matter of two months, I actually had Curry-Nation Brand Conversations registered and ready. I will never forget the day when I got the call on December 31, 2010. My company secretary gave me the news and said, “Happy new year!”

And then Nagessh Pannaswami, my partner, happened. His confidence and assurance when he said he would partner me was the best push I could get. I was ready to now face whatever came, with him by my side.

The next big question mark that was scary for me was, will I get people to join our start-up? Will talent leave secure jobs and come to something that has just started? I was really surprised by the number of people who wanted to join. We had about 10 people on our team in a month-and-a-half, with a resume coming in everyday. I was thrilled and truly humbled.

The one thing I believe in is, how happy you are everyday because nothing is worth not being happy. The day I stopped being happy doing what I was doing, I knew I had to be on my own.

I am a hugely religious person and I have tremendous faith in God. I knew what was happening or was going to happen would only be for the good.

Today the one thing I can say with my hand on my heart is that I feel happy walking into work every single day. We have a fabulous bunch of mad, passionate and hard-working people; this place is my home and the people are my family. We are all one little world trying to make a difference, and along the way, laughing and truly enjoying what we are doing. What more can you ask for? I feel blessed.

Authored by:
Chraneeta Mann, Co-Founder, The Mob
Meenakshi Menon, Chairman, Spatial Access
Priti Nair, Director, Curry-Nation

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