From a media café to creating sonic identities for brands to corporate fitness – our domain has bred many entrepreneurs who are venturing out with new ideas, a different approach and a fresh outlook to ‘work’. In the last six to eight months, we have seen a number of such exits – people leaving their cushy jobs and big salaries to follow their dreams and ‘start something new’. What is different this year from a similar trend noticed a couple of years ago is that this time, the scope of concepts and business is not limited to the media and entertainment industry. People are exploring newer pastures and unexplored territories.
‘Freedom of ideas’, ‘being one’s own boss’ to ‘doing great work while having fun’ are common reasons for the bunch of new domain entrepreneurs to leave their jobs. This heralds the beginning of ageing of big corporates and the birth of new ‘venturists’ in the industry.
As our industry grows to the size of $ 24,778 million in 2012 and is projected to grow at 14.3% in the next five years (according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2012-2016) we are also seeing the industry mature in terms of the kind of new ventures and start-ups that are mushrooming.
In this feature, we have tried to profile some of these start-ups and the calling of their founders for the new ventures.
WHAT BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD DO
Sandeep Goyal, Founder Chairman and former stakeholder, Dentsu India, is currently Chairman of Mogae Media, launched by him and his wife Tanya in early 2012. Always a successful entrepreneur, Goyal shares some insights and tips for people starting out on their own
You have started a new venture in Mobile and Digital, seen as the most lucrative field in the coming years. What was your calling when you ventured out?
Entrepreneurship is all about spotting opportunities ahead of others and making the most of them before the space fills out. I was amongst the first few to be introduced to Mobile as a category in 1994, when I helped launch Airtel at Rediffusion. But I was too engrossed in running the ad agency at that time and missed the first wave of VAS in the late 90s. By the time I launched Mogae Digital in 2008, the VAS space was crowded and dog-eat-dog. We made some headway but it was a difficult market. With Mogae Media now, our timing is just right. Smartphones are proliferating. Internet-on-mobile is all set to overtake Internet-on-PC. So mobile will be the lead Internet device of the future. E-commerce is thriving. But m-commerce will soon be ahead. Tablets are gaining volume, shedding price. Rural India will no longer be media dark, thanks to mobile reach. Tomorrow, brands that do not have a mobile-connect strategy will look dull, ill-at-ease and anachronistic. So, with our Airtel relationship, we are uniquely positioned to pioneer the monetization of the wireless screen. We have 180+ million addressable, connected customers. We know these customers well… and we can connect them to brands seamlessly, cost-efficiently and profitably. I am doing this new enterprise because I enjoy the energy in the business. I love the connect between technology and the day-to-day lives of consumers. Most importantly I am really enjoying doing something new, enjoying new horizons … new mountains to climb.
What were the challenges you had to face while setting up Dentsu in India?
I was a first time entrepreneur. I did not have enough personal cash. That dampened my risk appetite. I was always looking to do everything with the least cost burn, shortest ROI cycle and wanted to minimize risk. It was not, and never will be, a bad philosophy to run a business conservatively but it also puts brakes on the growth trajectory. Dentsu itself, though the world’s largest agency, was then relatively unknown in these parts. Professionals who came to work at Dentsu came because I was there and I had a track record of success, not to join a world-leader. Clients gave us business because I would service them, not because Dentsu was a formidable global agency. That put a lot of pressure on me personally. We won business relentlessly. We opened new offices. We hired, and hired. We set up new businesses. We took measured risks. We entered new domains. We grew every single day … in size and in stature … to Rs 1,200 crore in billings by the time I exited the JV eight years later. But while it was exciting, it was very, very tiring.
Looking back, what do you think have been crucial mistakes? How would you have changed any particular move now, given a chance?
Not very many mistakes. At Dentsu, we should have invested much more in businesses like Events, Design, Digital, Customer Loyalty, PR … but in avatars that were more contemporary. We did try that with “iki” a large-format design agency where we did, for example, a 22,000 sq feet anchor store for Maruti Suzuki at New Delhi. We also did tens of Canon and Panasonic hero-stores. But it wasn’t enough. We needed a company like DentsuTech which has maybe a couple of thousand employees and does a billion dollars in BTL revenues. I think I should have set myself a Rs 5000 crore target in seven years rather than a Rs 1000-1200 crore one. Then, I would have built the media business far more aggressively. We tried being a good creative agency and a good media agency. We did not endeavour to achieve greatness, superlative greatness. It was possible. I had the best agency team, without a doubt, under my roof. They were capable of far, far more. I am to be faulted for perhaps not dreaming big enough.
What are the key things one should keep in mind while starting a new venture?
• Dream big
• Aspire to global size
• Don’t hesitate to experiment
• Don’t fear to fail
• Try, try, try … it will work out
• Every day is a new day. Never give up hope
What is your advice to people starting out on their own?
• There is no greater freedom than to be your own boss. Enjoy entrepreneurship
• Build a business for profit, not for valuation
• Know when to enter a business. Equally, know when to exit a business
(Mogae Media handles the mobile business of Airtel, India’s largest telecom company, for monetization of all its advertising assets including mCouponing and mCommerce)