The other day I had a talk in a entrepreneurship cell event at KJ Somaiya college. I spoke about Branding for Startups…

Having worked with a large number of startups at DigiWhirl in different stages – one person startups, 5 – 10 people, 25-30 people and then of course bigger companies as well – Branding is an interesting topic for startups because a lot of times they don’t really do any major branding. A lot of people that met me after the talk were wondering about what branding to put in place when they were really Early Stage startups – like just a few months into their company.

Typically in early stage the focus of the startup should be on fine tuning their deliverable whether it is product or service. Also unless already funded, there won’t be any employees or just the bare minimum employee strength which means the founding team is doing everything. So practically in terms of time and money it is never possible to put in a great branding in place.

So what I suggest to them is to set up a really, basic branding in place. This shouldn’t take more than a days brainstorming within the team. Request an experienced entrepreneur or marketing person to be part of this session if possible. Then you can just quickly wrap this up. Because the most important thing in early days is speed so you can test out your product/service and get enough market feedback to ensure this is a viable venture.

Quote for Early Stage Startups

Remember, all your branding elements need to be created keeping in mind the person it is intended for.

 

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A long time since I penned down a post on this blog.

I have many insights into work, entrepreneurship and marketing but I find it difficult to post it, somehow.

I take year end reviews seriously, so I am pushing myself to write this post,

The Year 2014-2015 was a thrill ride when I look back at it. And a very hard one at that. In Jan 2014 I setup an office for DigiWhirl, my digital marketing company. Managed an offline team for the first time.

Offline Team Management: is different from virtual one. In virtual work setups – deliverables are central and socializing takes a back seat. I did socialize and set up some HR engagement aspects when I had a virtual team but honestly it is all a lot lighter than when you are offline. In the office all the time there is some level of socializing going on and every personal hit to any team member affects everyone as the setup is small. So as usual had a whole bunch of mad experiences with my team.

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Lately I have been spending a lot of time in office, which happens to be a co-working space. So I have gotten some insight and experience into the woes of an employee. One insight that has lately been growing on me is that – people end up spoiling relations or quitting because they fail to speak up and have a simple conversation.

Here are some situations where I feel, the situation would be much better handled if the employee speaks up….

1) Non-core activities are sucking the life out of the Job

Most employees are hired for one core purpose. Apart from that core work they are also given many non-core responsibilities. In a startup often the non-core responsibilities can be many! Firstly, identify your core job – discuss with boss if needed. Any tasks which are non-core, if they are really obstructing your peace – just raise the issue and get it out of the way. Make it clear that you will do your core job to the best of your ability – and ensure that it is getting done well. So once you are doing your main work, the company will be more than happy to sort the other stuff for you.

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I have been thinking about the Non-Compete clause of the social media agency. This is the clause which mentions that the agency may not take up work of another competing business, until the term the contract is valid and a year hence.

I spoke to many PR, design, web and other companies about taking up the project of a brand and its competitor at the same time. Most of them claimed that they did not really worry too much about that. They had some way of justifying taking up a competitors work too.

However, in social media, it is more that just marketing. One has to get into the sphere, the industry, connect with influencers and just be like a spokesperson of the brand on social media. Because of the deeper involvement that the community manager has with the client brand – it would be very difficult to do the same marketing for a competing brand.

I am sure any community manager would have a conflict of interest in managing two competing brands. And, especially because DigiWhirl is a small company, there would inevitably be an overlap in the team that is working on the two projects.

So clearly for us currently, managing two competitors at the same time would be a No-No. Morally, ethically and generally for loyalty and heart. Maybe when the company is big enough that the people working on the project are completely different and both teams can maintain some confidentiality internally, only then maybe, it would make sense.

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I find writing year end overview posts really relaxing. It allows me to take my time and think about various stuffs that happened over the year. So even though its already end of Jan, 2015 I am still into writing the year overview. So two big things in my entrepreneurial life in 2014,

1) Office, Office

Oh yea, DigiWhirl is not a virtual setup anymore. I don’t take my laptop and travel for months across South India. I now have an office and that too at some distance from my house – so commuting is a daily part of life. It has been an enriching experience to go to office, setup a team, having a team around to work with, consider all the various things that come with having a more stable life. It’s also interesting to be stationary.

Some traveling happened in 2014. Since its less and so hard won, I tend to make the most of it. 🙂

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Every Indian when you say ‘Pakistan’ .. something will flair in his or her heart. Anger, Passion, Sorrow, Hurt, Victory, Hope, Dream, Desire – whether positive or negative but something will flair in his/her heart. The passion and craze that surrounds any sporting activity between the two countries is testimony to this.

I am just an Indian like this. Today the turn of events on Twitter have touched my heart.

I want to document this here, for people who may miss it and just because it needs to be said,

A couple of days back, Pakistan had a tragedy. Over 100 school kids were slaughtered by Taliban terrorists in Peshawar. The world was shocked and everyone condemned this attack. Naturally what the Peshawari people must be going through is difficult to imagine.

People in India also rallied and most of us buried any ill feelings and just wanted to pray and support Pakistan in this tragedy. The ensuing hashtag #IndiawithPakistan was trending on Twitter for a day or so. (don’t know exact stats there)

The trending hashtag implies the large number of people who subscribed to that sentiment. Hence, it is important that a large mass of India was behind it and they truly in their hearts were with Pakistan in this tragedy.

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Educational institutions need to work on imparting meaningful life skills in students. Not just rote learning and some academic knowledge. If the student chooses a field of academics – teaching or PhD, then the academics help. For most of us who have gone into a different field of work after studies have found that, the work has pretty much nothing to do with all the stats, facts and theories we learnt in school. Now, for the last few months, I have been actively interviewing many candidates and hiring for @DigiWhirl and I find bizarre interactions happening. I have identified three very fundamental life skills that a large number of candidates especially freshers just don’t have. And I am now trying to figure our a ‘good’ way of imparting them on the job, but only the smarter ones will pick them up…

1) Make a to-do

I see the basic to-do list as the fundamental block towards organized working. Take it a few notches further and actual professions like ‘project manager’ or ‘co-ordinator’ and so on develop.

The problem is not that some freshers don’t make a list of tasks that need to be – the problem is the sheer strangeness to it. It is palpable that never has there been a culture of ‘organized working’ built into them. Some have an inate flair for it, so they come for work and pick it up. Rest however, they hopelessly flounder because just the simple task of writing down what all needs to be done and then do it one after the other is not there.

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