Brandsmith's core competence lies in Brand management, Business advisory & India entry strategy, Corporate communication, Niche events, Product launches, Star endorsements, In-film advertising & promotions, Structured public relations, Media management, Strategic business alliances, Conferencing & exhibitions, Marketing and liaison.
Interview with Mr. Rahul Mittra, CEO, Brandsmith
Interviewed By: Ms. Charu Madan, IBS- Hyb, Campus Editor, The CEO Insights
From being a journalist with Times of India to launching Medianet and then starting your company Brandsmith, what triggered your move to become an entrepreneur when the usual norm is of a salaried job?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: If you notice my career graph, I have been a part of the corporate world for over a decade before starting my own company Brandsmith. My first job was with the Times of India as a Sub editor cum reporter, then Senior Manger-cum-Head Russian operations with Core Healthcare, Head Corporate Communications with Travelite & then Co-founder & COO of the news portal "www.indiareacts.com. My last job was with the Times Group where I was heading Medianet, the inhouse PR & positioning agency. On hindsight, every assignment undertaken helped me acquire a particular core skill set. As a journalist I sharpened my writing skills, as a Public Relations Manager I acquired insights with regard to international business. As I went along I picked up skills in public relations, fund raising, corporate communication, media advisory, etc. and realized that there were a lot of public relations and event agencies but no professional company who would exclusively cater to the positioning of brands. The whole branding space was hitting me hard. It was then that I conceived the idea of Brandsmith which would think on behalf of the client and offer them the right solution.
What challenges did you face while setting up Brandsmith?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: Not intending to be derogatory but I was stepping into an industry in which the event space was equated with ‘Band Baja’ .I had to be careful in positioning myself right and also give Brand smith an impetus. I had to first start with my own branding .Gradually people accepted me, be it the corporate world or bollywood. They realized that I had some ideas and a particular way to go about them. Thus, the biggest challenge was upholding what I stood for and projecting them in the right perspective.
What do you consider the USP of Brand smith?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: The USP of Brandsmith is that we are in between a lot of spaces which includes public relation events, media advisory, brand management and marketing consulting. We can offer a 360 degree solution to clients, specially those clients who are coming into India or launching a fresh campaign. We have just signed up with Grand Venizia mall which is one of the largest retail projects coming up in Greater Noida on the lines of the city of Venice. Brandsmith is actively involved in the spade work and planning of events like road shows and entertainment for clients. We can also ask the clients to reduce the budgets if we consider it necessary. Thus, Brandsmith not only saves money but tries to offer the right solution to its valued clients. Further, synergy is also important for me. Bonding with the client is crucial and brand smith endeavors to go the extra mile to render additional services to the clients even if it is not in our agenda.
Can you throw some light on the events conducted by Brandsmith in recent months?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: Brandsmith conducts a plethora of varied events ranging from lifestyle to corporate events to reduce the monotony. It has conducted a couple of events like training programs for managers at Mother Dairy, organized functions for senior doctors at Fortis hospitals and arranged the Statesman vintage car rally. We have also engineered the launch of online campaign for BJPs New Delhi constituency and a charity exhibition of contemporary art held in New Delhi. Brandsmith has also organized the annual day of Indo French chamber of commerce and Indo Latin American event. Recently, it hosted film “Mohandas” promotion in New Delhi.
Who would you consider as your major competitors?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: I prefer not talking about competitors as I have never bothered about them. Google places Brandsmith at the first or second position when it comes to film promotion and brand promotion companies. However, that doesn’t make our company the biggest. Hence, it’s all about perception. Moreover, I am not in this field for competition but to do my own thing and to enjoy it.
What core competences do you look for in your employees?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: I believe that “small is big”. In the branding business personal networking, synergy and relationships are important. In life there are two things content and relationships. If one has content and no relationships one can’t grow and if you have relationships and no content you take a back seat. I look out for people who have focus and understand brands. The team should have an eye for synergy and should be passionate and enthusiastic about their work. I don’t look for experts as everyone cannot be one and neither am I an expert myself. They need to be indefatigable learners and have a strategic orientation. However, the executions of the strategies are done by associates and partners.
Has Brand smith India been affected by the slowdown?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: Brandsmith has verticals like media services, brand management, consulting etc. With the slowdown fewer events have taken place which has affected certain verticals. However, verticals related to consulting and branding business benefited most during the recession. That was the time when companies needed to set up their shop and establish their presence. Moreover, we capitalized on the slowdown as we ventured into other areas like online business, dynamic websites and branding on the internet. Consulting work increased tremendously during the slowdown which has kept us very busy. Moreover, we have done interesting work during the worst times like the BJP campaign for New Delhi. I am also on the visiting faculty and speak with senior managers of new age media and branding and I can create a need for them and fortunately for the solutions they have to come to Brand smith. This was a strategic decision I took to go and talk to clients as they wanted us to do that. We conducted one day workshops on new age media and branding and how email marketing and social logging are important for ones business. Moreover, now the market is looking up and I am sure that as far as events go we will soon become active. Overall I can say that the recession has not affected us.
Where do u see Brand smith five years from now?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: I am not ambitious from the point of view of money. I am only greedy about one thing i.e. I want everyone associated with Brandsmith to be happy with the arrangement and to view Brandsmith as a credible organization with some bright ideas. I don’t know which vertical would grow in the next five years, but currently we are promoting a lot of films. So, we could be a production house in the coming years and would be catering to a larger client base.
In uncertain times, would you encourage fresh MBA’s to take up entrepreneurship?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: Getting work experience for everyone is very important before starting something of your own. One needs to work to understand the culture and work dynamics. While working one should pick up core skill sets which help you later in running your own company. I am not trained to be a journalist but I am one. Neither I am a trained event manager but I am one. When I was taking such risks a lot of people discouraged me. Fortunately I have been able to prove everyone wrong. However, it is very subjective. When you have a salaried job you don’t have to be concerned about anyone but, when you are an entrepreneur you need to first shoulder the responsibilities of others and then yourself. Hence, do your own thing quietly and keep experimenting on your thoughts but get work experience for sure.
Who is your role model?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: I cannot think of any particular person who has impacted my thinking profoundly. However, my father has ingrained sound middle class values which have kept me grounded. My father used to say that do good to as many people you come across and in times of need even if one person turns back to help, you should consider yourself successful. Moreover, I have been very fortunate to work with the shareholders in whichever capacity possible which has helped me become a good strategist and an efficient crisis manager. It gave me an insight into how shareholders think, how they maximize their profits and what is crucial for them. Such inputs helped me while I was starting my own company.
What kind of opportunities does Brand smith provide MBA graduates?
Mr. Rahul Mittra: Currently, Brand smith is not recruiting. However, in the future Brand smith may get into some specialized areas of marketing where fresh management graduates will be required. But at the moment nothing is happening.
Any message for The CEO Insights
Mr. Rahul Mittra: We all have a moral duty to share our experiences, strengths and weaknesses with the next generation. The CEO Insights provides us the platform where we can impart all that we have done in the corporate world. I would just tell everyone involved with The CEO Insights to go and market it so that a lot more people can draw inspiration and strive to reach the zenith of success.