“Digital advertising has come of age and it has only one way to go – upwards and outwards”loa
Anjali Hegde is the CEO of Reprise Media India Pvt. Ltd – a JV between IPG Mediabrands – a global Media Network and Interactive Avenues. Reprise Media is part of the Mediabrands Audience Platform which provides data driven solutions to find, buy and engage the right audience for a business.
Anjali is an alumnus of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies from where she completed MMS (Master of Management Studies) in 1988. Anjali is also a post graduate in Business Economics from M. S. University of Baroda, 1986.
With over 23 years of working experience, she has an in-depth understanding of the media / advertising industry having worked for seven years with Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd and with Mediaturf (now Connecturf) for six years. She has worked closely on digital marketing initiatives of companies like Coca-Cola India, Sony India, HCL, American Express, Toyota, Britannia, ITC Foods, Aditya Birla Financial Services Group, NIIT & ESPN among others during her 12 years of Digital marketing experience. Anjali lives in Delhi. She is passionate about dogs, books and theatre and not necessarily in that order. Here, Anjali shares her experiences with Thinking Aloud!
TA: What inspired you to start this business? How and where did you get this idea for a business? What need did you see?
Anjali: To be able to do something which one is passionate about is a blessing but doing it for oneself is truly awesome. I am a great believer in the digital medium. However, having come from a background of salaried professionals, I was not really thinking about enterprise. The five of us (all founders of Interactive Avenues) worked well together for many years and respected each other’s unique skills. What started out as cafeteria conversation which was largely wishful thinking slowly developed into the idea of enterprise. I was indeed fortunate to have had likeminded and right thinking partners.
The time was just right and the market was getting ready for more digital action. We started out at a certain scale from day 1 - Two offices and 23 people on board.
TA: How did you finance the business? Was it difficult to gain investors confidence being a woman entrepreneur?
Anjali: We met up with a lot of people, individual investors, VC firms as well as other large agency networks looking to consolidate their Indian digital offerings. Getting finance was not a worry – we were particular about working with likeminded professionals. It is very important when one is starting out the business to work with investors who truly facilitate and open doors for you, who appreciate your strengths and give an honest feedback on areas of improvement and do not interfere only support and guide. We started out with a small sum of 25lakhs taken from a friend, duly returned within 40 days and within a few weeks, we got our first investment from an angel investor. Within the first quarter, Sequoia came on board.
It is believed that women entrepreneurs initially face some issues of gaining investor confidence, I believe they bring a unique combination of IQ and EQ which is extremely important when one is working with people and taking them along.
TA: What are your marketing strategies for this business?
Anjali: Doing good work and letting happy clients provide references is the best marketing strategy that one can put together and that comes naturally to us at Interactive Avenues.
TA: How are you managing your time?
Anjali: My roles have changed many times over in the last six years of our existence. I started out with putting together the Delhi/ north operations – so it was essentially business development as well as getting the teams and infrastructure in place. Those were tough but heady days. It took me nearly two years to get a good team together and a dependable and capable second line.
In the meanwhile, we were working on creating a second agency – the only way to go out and expand our market. In the meanwhile, Shashi Sinha reached out to us with a proposal of working together for providing digital solutions to Lodestar UM’s clients. We tossed up between us on who was going to work on this new entity and the mantle fell on my shoulders. The next two years went in making the partnership work across various agency partners and global relationships of LUM. I was straddling two boats for nearly one year – assisting Interactive Avenues and steering Interactive Universal – the new entity as it was christened. Then in April 2011, we formally shook hands with IPG and Interactive Universal was renamed Reprise Media. It’s has been one year of Reprise Media and It has been a really busy time once again setting up the business from scratch and managing agency partnerships.
TA: What was the most difficult part of starting the business?
Anjali: Getting good people is the most difficult part of starting the business and our business is all about people. Finding promising talent is difficult and training them can be exhausting but also rewarding. In the initial years, till the agency becomes a certain size, it is also a tight rope walk in managing client expectations.
TA: What are your expectations for the future with regards to this business?
Anjali: Digital advertising has come of age and it has only one way to go – upwards and outwards. This industry has too many marginal players who are all squabbling for a small share of advertising revenue. I expect consolidation in order to realize better market shares for everyone.
I also expect that as an industry, digital agencies and publishers would need to collaborate and work together in common interest to create strong industry bodies which protect our interests. Currently, we do not have bodies like INS which give us any teeth for enforcing good credit practices in the industry.
I also expect that the industry would definitely develop better measurement tools and research in order to provide more credibility and thereby more budgets for digital.
TA: What are the problems faced by women entrepreneurs in business, especially from small towns?
Anjali: People from smaller towns all face issues of scale, depth and availability of resources and thereby resulting efficiencies. Women face the same issues. There are also instances of gender insensitivity but they are getting rarer as more and more women are striking out on their own as entrepreneurs and leaders. More than women, the men are now learning how to work well with their female colleagues and bosses.
TA: What lessons would do you like to give to other aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Anjali: Be fixed on your goal. There would be enough personal and professional issues which will make you question your decisions and test your resolve. But remember that true happiness lies in doing what you do well and making a positive contribution in this world. Remember that the sun always rises bright and shining every morning.stallmentloansbhxzcinstallment loansfastloanfjmufast loanpaydayloansfoy