‘A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.’ – Jeff Bezos
Brands can indeed undoubtedly make or break a business. And when you are a clueless startup with a brilliant product but no idea how to sell it, a brand consulting firm like Insperme Consulting can fill in all the gaps.
The Tech Panda spoke to Manoj Chandra, Founder and CEO of Insperme Consulting, which is a brand consulting firm, with a vision to help entrepreneurs grow their brand, reach their business objective, and create a profitable venture, by investing less in marketing and more in devising strategies to reach their target audience.
The challenges that most startups face today, Chandra says, is that early-stage businesses are generally developed by technocrats, who are not really brand-savvy or marketing-savvy. While they understand what they’re doing, their technology or functional background hinders their growth. That’s where Insperme steps in.
“Marketing is a very specific skill, you acquire it. Once you have a business model, what is really going to get you above the crowd is customers; and if you need customers, then you need marketing, and you need a brand in which customers can believe in and trust,” he says.
He says to gain traction, once the product model is in place, the next step is marketing and customer acquisition; something every company needs and where the bulk of the money goes. “That’s what people keep raising money for, to keep acquiring customers, because you have to become from tiny to large, enough to be scalable and sustainable,” he adds.
How it started
Chandra became an entrepreneur after he left his corporate career to set up his own venture. Stepping into the startup industry, he took up a project helping a startup and started getting requests for mentorship and advice. Starting with a single project, he became an ‘outsourcee’. Thus, instead of being a full-time employment, he became a contract, where his specific skills were of a chief marketing officer.
After completing his task for one company, and then another, he realised that requirements of a startup differ from that of a large organisation. However, startups often lack the knowledge or resources. Thus, instead of just being a consultant, Insperme decided to go into execution too.
“From an outsourced CMO, I set up this company where, we became like an outsourced marketing department to a startup,” he reminisces.
How they help startups
According to the Insperme model, at the cost of one person, a startup can avail an experienced team of 8 to 10 people, who will manage all the facets of marketing, branding, and communication for a startup; that too, at a fraction of the cost of what would cost if they did it themselves.
They start right from the stage of conceptualising a brand, to creating the logo, to taking on existing businesses, where they refine their own positioning, reposition the startup in the market, and put on a new marketing focus.
In addition, because of the experience he brings, startup founders also find a mentor in Chandra. After all, startups, which often comprise of young people, need help in finding the right talent. Most of them also do not have the skill to hire, since they have no experience with recruitment. Often, they also need help with finance, cash flows, and balance sheets.
On the other hand, there are also business people who are not tech savvy. In such cases, Insperme offers them technology support to help them develop a product or a website, ERP, CRM, and, lead management systems, or e-commerce platforms.
“Our single objective is that whatever the challenges you face in building an organisation and entrepreneurial setup, we become kind of ingrained with the organisation to help you grow. We become part of the organisation, my team becomes their team, and we work hand-in-hand,” he explains.
Advice for startups
Calling India ‘a great entrepreneurial mind set’, Chandra says that while people are setting up businesses every day in India, all of them get stuck at some point of time. His advice to young startups is two key things, which he has seen as the biggest problems in most companies he has worked with.
One is focus, when startups are trying to do too many things. Another is when they’re not even clear who their customer is and are just shooting in the dark or focusing on other things. According to him, once startups start focusing on these two points, the problems go away, things start evolving, and they start getting feedback.
While the market keeps changing, funding keeps changing, and people themselves keep changing, keeping focus on why it all started is significant. “Startups lose their vision, their focus. It is important to be focused on what you set out to do, when you’re a small early stage company and not try to do too many things,” he says.
Also, he says, startups often forget that customers are the ones who make a business run. “A business is a business. It runs on customers, and customers alone. People lose focus of the fact that customers are the real reality, not valuation, not investment, not technology,” he says.
His vision for tomorrow
While Chandra has already worked with about thirty companies, as a personal goal, he intends to take the number up to a hundred. “If I can help such companies and have them go to the next level, I think it will be a small achievement for me as an individual. But for my firm, my vision is that it should become an institution that can service many more early-stage companies and help them.”
Insperme specialises on the front that they are not focused on one or two particular categories of business. In this regard, Chandra says, they are fortunate that they understand everything about any business. For example, they have worked in varied fields like real estate, high-tech, IoT, blockchain, e-commerce, fintech, pharma, hospitality, travel, education, consumer durables, FMCG, retail, and fashion.
“You bring a business space to us, we know what is to be done to help. We have helped people evolve their business model, raise money, and exit businesses. So it’s like running a mini accelerator without being an accelerator. We help incubate businesses,” he says.
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