Friday, May 30, 2014

50+ Mentors at Great Indian Marketing Weekend, 13-14th June, The Leela Ambience Gurgaon

Monday, May 19, 2014

How I met Kapil Dev at Asian Paints

Just a while back as I was watching comedy night with kapil, I could not help recall a memorable experience in June/July of 2006 I had as a Brand Manager at Asian Paints. It was annual sales of Asian Paints where all the people in sales and marketing team across India gather in a 5 star hotel to make strategies to win markets in the upcoming season, and leave with lots of inspiration and action. The star attraction for us was THE KAPIL DEV - the cricket legend I used to adore for years!
Photo - Who am I - the 5th from right/left in the back row, next to me is Andrew Williams, my dear friend who used to head the corporate communications function, and currently the Marketing Manager.

The experience with Kapil paaji was awesome! The man who brought the world cup home for first time, and a successful cricketer turned entrepreneur (he owns a hotel in Chandigarh) and he was most down to earth while interacting with all of us at Asian Paints that time. He wasted very little time about his own story, and directly switched on the audience, urging them to ask what they want. Someone in the sales team asked him, "How did you feel when you ran 20 yards backwards to catch the ball to get out Viv Richards out (this was the turning point of 1983 world cup final)?" And quick came the reply, "Bhai, sochta kaun hai? I was just running and caught it. There is no time for thinking on the cricket field, just action. The ball was in the air, I just had to get there :-)".
Photo - The great man, Kapil Dev in this picture is on 2nd row, and to his right is CEO of Asian Paints, to his left is Deputy - CEO (earlier VP of Sales and Marketing) and extreme left is the founding family member of Asian Paints.

Kapil ji's witty and candid answers carried on. Someone asked him why he used his left arm to rub and shine the ball (Indian cricket fans are crazy, then can analyze everything!). Kapil solved the puzzle for all of us, "I use all my strength from right hand to bowl the best, and do it six times an over, for 10 overs in a match and about 25 overs in practice sessions throughout the year. This makes my right side strong, but left side gets neglected. I have to strengthen left hand too, so I can have a balance, hence, I always use the left hand to shine the ball against my trouser." Wow, that was a revelation for me.
Photo - In front row of this pic are Vivek Subramaniam, VP - Sales that time (he was the one who took my interview at IIM Indore campus), and sitting with him are Rohit Malkani, Vinay Bhopatkar (stalwarts in AP marketing team)

Kapil's aura is so much that we were all impatient to have a snap with him but he was in no hurry and obliged each of us as his own. One thing about a sales and marketing organization is variety - you have all kinds of people asking all kind of questions. One of the serious types asked Kapil, "Why does India not have a sports culture?" Kapil asked him back, "do you have a pair of sports shoe?". He asked the same thing to almost 600 of us in the conference. Hardly 10 hands went up. Then he asked another question, "How many of you have a pair of formal shoes?" Every one of us raised our hands, and realized the answer for lack of India's sports culture the next moment.
Photo - Many more of my friends in this picture - Praveer Shrivastava (who is the Head of Marketing at Unitech now), Vivek Neb (who is the Global Head in Integreon) and Pranoy Kapoor (who is Regional Manager in Asian Paints) (Tag more if you recall)

Well, I spend a little less than 2 years with Asian Paints, and had the best of experiences in those years. And shaking hands with Kapil Dev was a dream come true.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Almaconnect's Founder shares his journey with StartupYatra participants

In a lazy Saturday morning, exciting professionals, startups and students met at Almaconnect office to listen to how Swapnil Khandelwal, founder, is building a platform for alumni to connect across colleges in India. Check out the many photos captured by the camera's eyes, and a selfie too!

Pics of Startup Connect event in Hotel Crowne Plaza Delhi

It was good to see the Delhi NCR startup junta coming together to listen to some inspiring talk. Anurag Batra started with an inspiring talk with 1 key message, "do not walk out inspired, walk out to inspire." Check out what the camera's eye caught during the event.

Friday, May 16, 2014

StartupYatra @BoringBrands Digital Marketing Venture with Aakriti Bhargava

It was a fun evening at the Boring Brands office with husband - wife founder duo Aakriti Bhargava and Anshul Sushil hosting StartupYatra participants and sharing their experiences of working on innovative digital marketing practices. Here are the 5 tools they shared which can be of use for entrepreneurs:
1. 99designs
2. Pickmonkey
3. Mention.net
4. Paintsumo
5. Google Fonts
Try exploring and share more tools that can be used for design and marketing.
Check out the awesome pics of the get together.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My tryst with Anurag Batra, Chairman of Businessworld and Exchange4Media

In movies, when someone becomes a huge star like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth or Kamal Haasan, they tend to play multiple roles to give their fans more - double role, triple role. Imagine an entrepreneur who plays many roles - editor, writer, angel investor, event organizer, besides ofcourse being a businessman of one of the largest media property in India - thats Anurag Batra for you.
It was about 6 months back in Gurgaon during a StartupSaturday event that I had met him. *Technically, it was not our first meeting - we had connected few years back during an online course on business plan which he was taking for budding entrepreneurs and I had done a short pre-session on funding sources for startups.*

He spoke passionately about Indian marketing and advertising landscape, and it seemed he had seen things evolve for years. The depth and breadth of his experiences were tremendous - running a publishing business, online portals, ecommerce websites and still being able to make time to connect with young and aspiring entrepreneurs is a knack that only he can have.

Few months later in January 2014, he hosted a StartupYatra session in the office of Businessworld. And here he spoke about personal experiences that you never get to listen in public forums. He was candid unlike many successful entrepreneurs - there are lot many failures in business and what is more important is to enjoy life and have fun at work. Entrepreneurs are very selfish in that sense - though they do lot of public services, create jobs, unveil new opportunities, bring about change - but all the while they are working for their own.
He led the group of 25 young startups around his office and was keen to take suggestions from each - one of them suggested the Businessworld office is a little less colorful and he immediately hired her for some interior design work. While we were talking business and startup challenges, he gave us another surprising offer - lets have a beer party next week! And the group really hit it off at Charlie's Bar in Saket!

As many people who know him would admit, there is a certain warmth to him and he makes you feel comfortable whatever be the situation. He is right in the middle of the marketing and advertising world - with exchange4media and Businessworld pulling in all kind of marketing professionals, advertisers, media experts, planners, freelancers, designers and entrepreneurs and giving them the best of knowledge, networking or events.

Last month, I was fortunate to be there at the launch of Businessworld's Marketing Whitebook and the energy in the conference hall was awesome - more because of the people in the room than because of the Delhi heat! And people from all ages had turned up - from young startups to old CEOs. I am sure not even one of them felt out of place being in company of Anurag and team.

What I have learned from Anurag Batra?

1. Speed - he shared his story of acquiring Businessworld - it was decided in 3 days flat. Imagine a deal worth crores happening in that time - some of the famous angel networks and venture capital investors in India take atleast 6 months to do a deal worth few lakhs!

2. Commitment - when you commit something, put full heart into it. No ifs and buts, just do it as your own thing. Lot of times you would meet people playing with their mobiles while you are presenting to them or sharing your ideas - its a signal that person is half-interested and better to walk out rather than be ignored! Anurag has been one of those people who listen intently and act fast.

3. Follow up - many times I feel how can a person who has 100 things to do still does a follow up for the little things, and I admire Anurag for this. I am not able to focus on all stuff at times, and I think I have a lot to improve on this aspect.

I have met 1000s of people in my life, and many have influenced me in lot of ways. I will be sharing my experiences with these people in my blog.

If you wish to connect to Anurag Batra or Exchange4media/Businessworld team, feel free to ask and I will be glad to make an email introduction.


Till next time, be awesome!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Times Education Boutique guest talk and panel discussion on entrepreneurship

I spend a cozy Saturday on 10th May with young students and their parents at the Times Education expo in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The topic was my favorite - "Entrepreneurship as a Career". I shared my own journey and experiences at Nurture Talent and showed the students few clips from the movie "Band Baaja Baraat", a typical bollywood entertainer but with lot of lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Do check out few of the photos from the event below:

Students clarifying myths and doubts from panel members - Prasoon Gupta, Kapil Garg, Darpan Majumdar ( not in picture)

Look at the full house at the conference hall in Pragati Maidan - and all engrossed in the session!

Its not all about serious education stuff - Fashion show preparations going on in parallel :-)

Students of a leading fashion institute preparing for the fashion show - that is practical implementation of the education they had for few years!

For more event updates, and upcoming events, check out www.meetup.com/startup-yatra

Thursday, May 8, 2014

StartupYatra @Adglobal360 Gurgaon Office with Rakesh Yadav, Co-founder

It was a wonderful evening of networking and learning at StartupYatra session organized by Amit Grover of Nurture Talent and hosted by Rakesh Yadav of Adglobal360. The first thing that set the informal tone of the evening was when Rakesh told the startups, "I dont know why I am called the founder, when I am still trying to find things as an entrepreneur". For a person running India's leading media agency and heading a team of 200 people, this is a humble way to share his experiences with budding startups. Check out the photos and share with your friends. For the upcoming sessions of StartupYatra, join www.meetup.com/startup-yatra.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My chance encounter with Murugavel, CEO of Bharatmatrimony.com

Any eligible bachelor in India must have come across Bharatmatrimony.com at least once in their life time, either creating a profile on their own or their parents making it for them and start forcing them to look for a partner (I find it miraculous that parents who otherwise cannot even type on keyboards are able to create accounts, upload pics, browse pages, search and send messages!)

Same went for me too - and though I was aware of Bharatmatrimony's brand for few years, meeting the great founder who build it was an experience in itself. It was a chance encounter during GSF 2011, in November 2011 at Gurgaon. There were 150+ investors and 40+ entrepreneurs present (one of the only event which I have seen that has more investors than entrepreneurs otherwise most events are sold on the premise that there will be few investors present and a large number of entrepreneurs turn up to see these celebrities :-).

While I was completing my registration, I saw the person standing next to me giving his details at the same desk - and this person was Mr Murugavel Janakiraman, the CEO and Founder of BharatMatrimony.com (he owns lot many leading ventures though this one is the flagship brand, apart from being an active angel investor).

I went up to him and gave a quick introduction. He had a perpetual smile on his face, and listened intently. I told him about my entrepreneur training programs and he genuinely appreciated the efforts. This conversation lasted for about 1 minute, and he left me on a note that if I do anything in Chennai, he will be there to help me. Like many other events where people just exchange cards, offer to help and then do not even reply to email or calls just the next day, I remained skeptical. But the admiration I had for his humble nature was tremendous at that moment. Rarely do you come across CEOs who own 1000s of crores worth businesses, who are ready to have even a small talk with unknown startups.

Any my belief in good things and good people came true in July 2013. We had planned a mentor meetup in IIT Madras Research Park for our college workshop winners. I just send out a short email requesting his presence for half an hour as a keynote speaker. Within 5 minutes, I got a yes (successful people are also fast email responders :-) And at the mentor bootcamp, he stayed for the full day, enthralling the students with his experiences and giving personal attention too!

Few months later, he hosted in his Chennai office StartupYatra, an initiative by Nurture Talent for early stage entrepreneurs and it was another awesome occasion where people could learn and share experiences of starting a venture.

Meanwhile, I keep reading about his talks, his success and makes me feel so happy whenever I see the Bharatmatrimony ads on TV these days. It always brings a smile on my face, and I am sure to many other people who go through tough times - whether entrepreneurs or married folks ;-)

I have met 1000s of people in my life, and many have influenced me in lot of ways. I will be sharing my experiences with these people in my blog.

If you wish to connect to Murugavel or Bharatmatrimony team, feel free to ask and I will be glad to make an email introduction.


Till next time, be awesome!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Usual Suspects, Businessworld Marketing Whitebook and Great Indian Marketing Weekend!

We had a great time doing the soft launch of GIMW - Great Indian Marketing Weekend at the event of Businessworld Marketing Whitebook in Gurgaon on 30th April. It seemed the whole marketing world was there - clients, agencies, brand managers, CEOs, buyers and sellers!
Over the last 10-15 years, I have been to 1000s of events, and organized an equal number as a host.

And one thing that I always recall in any event is one of my favorite movies - The Usual Suspects (also Reservoir Dogs, and few others with similar elements). The script is simple - whenever there is a crime that takes place, the police catches the same guys - "The Usual Suspects", no matter what the nature of crime is. It happens very often in Indian police stations as well - whether there is a theft, robbery, murder, rape - the police gets the few known criminals and starts its preliminary inquiry.

This is exactly what happens in many 5-star events - similar line up of speakers on stage, similar audience attending the event, same networking, same talks and also the same jokes shared ;-)

Fortunately, the Businessworld Marketing Whitebook launch was a pretty different format, and here are my quick shots at what happened:
1. Started with 3 CEOs taking their "selfie" on stage, and went to discuss how and why is the trend of selfie, personalization, individualism, show-off etc. is taking the marketing and consumer world by the storm. Marketing genius from Canon, Samsung and Max talked shared their views.
2. Victor or victim - Arnab Goswami (yes, that very loud, loved + hated journalist) was interviewed by Sam Balsara (Chairman of Madison whom I met a very long time back when I took an entrepreneurship course for WZCC members). I really loved the emotions and honest talk by Arnab - and could really feel his energy on the stage. Do not miss him on May 16th when the next government gets announced.
3. And then there was a panel discussion on digital marketing, with some big shots (it was getting chilled inside so I went out of the ballroom).
4. Then we had a pretty interesting discussion between Philips MD and Luminous Chairman on entrepreneurial companies vs process led MNCs. One company has Ranbir Kapoor as brand ambassador and the other has Sachin Tendulkar - both getting India's best entertainers to sell in boring categories like inverters, water purifiers and LED lights!
5. And then followed an ok session on creative advertising by an O&M and a Google guy. They showed some ad videos but it I felt it was out of context.
6. Last but not the least, we had the keynote talk by Coca Cola head, Venkatesh Kini, who shamelessly held a coke bottle throughout his speech (and I was later told he has been doing it for last 10-15 years at all events). But what he talked about was well worth the evening spend - using digital media for engagement, running offline campaigns, Coke studio for connecting to the selfie and millennial generation.

I am trying to be as selective for the events I go to, and wish more quality emerges from the quantity floating around. Check out the slideshow of the few pics I took on and off stage. And do visit www.gimw.in for being a part of the next big event we are planning for you!