Dhirubhai Ambani and the creation of Reliance Industries is a real life fairytale. A rags to riches tale about a man who was desperate to push himself out of the drudgery, Dhirubhai built Reliance from scratch. The son of a school teacher from a tiny village in Gujarat, Ambani worked every day to make sure he did not live the life his parents did. Through overcoming struggles and hard work one day at a time, Dhirubhai Ambani rose from a one bedroom chawl to having a personal valuation of over $ 3 billion. Ranked as the 138th richest person in the world by Forbes in 2002, these success lessons from Ambani are worth noticing!
1. Always think of how to be revolutionary
One of the reasons Dhirubhai Ambani was able to make Reliance Industries so great was because of how he kept looking for the next big thing. When he was working in Yemen at the age of 16, he realised oil as a field would work really well in India. However, oil wasn’t the only field in which Ambani excelled. One of the other steps he took to be a revolutionary leader was making communication through cell phones not just a luxury, but an affordable commodity. Known for tapping into fields which people didn’t think a viable source of revenue, Ambani started turning one idea after another to a massive success! If he had not thought of tapping into unexplored ideas, he would not have become the forebringer of change in India!
2. Think big, start small
One of the primary rules Ambani lived by was to think big, but start small. While Reliance is a massive conglomerate today, it had a very different beginning. The first Reliance corporate office was a 350 square feet room. Armed with one telephone, one table, three chairs and two office assistants, the first office was a partnership between Ambani and his cousin, Champaklal Damani. Despite the failure of the partnership, Ambani refused to stop working on making his dreams come true. A year later, undaunted by the failure, Ambani founded Reliance Industries. If he had gone all out and started the Reliance Industries from the very word go, success may not have been the same had it not been for Ambani testing the waters first!
3. You can learn the most from the risks you take
Some of the greatest lessons you can learn in life is by taking risks. Just like Ambani said, “The person who doesn’t take risks will not have major growth in their life.” From the very moment he came to Mumbai only with Rs. 500 and a family to take care of, he realised things won’t go forward without taking risks. If he hadn’t taken the chance and gone through with the idea of starting his own company, Reliance would not be what it is today!
4. Bet on the people around you
The people you have in your team are there because you want them to be a part of your business.They are working with you because they believe in your leadership skills. Dhirubhai realised early on in life that he had to give the people on his team a reason to believe in him and in the company. The philosophy of “arm around the shoulder type leader” was made popular by him and with time, this has become a widely popular form of leadership. Furthermore, not only did he believe in his employees, he also made sure his employees had safety nets in place for them when things went wrong. Every great leader reaches greatness because of the amount of trust they place in the people around them.
4. Do not worry about change
Every time Ambani saw things changing, he knew he would have to adapt with the times, otherwise things do not go the right way. If Ambani hadn’t realised the best way to make a difference in the communications world was by making incoming calls free, Reliance would have been on quite a different path. Embrace that things will evolve constantly and the only way you as a leader can grow, is by keeping with the times.
5. Create a niche for yourself
One of the reasons Ambani is one of the greatest leaders in the Country is because of how he discovered a niche for himself. In a life which spanned over a period of 69 years, he managed to hold onto his ideas and managed to turn each idea into a success. From the oil industry to the communications world, Dhirubhai Ambani monopolised markets which people did not think were viable industries at the time. The niche he created for himself was so strong and great, no one had the guts to penetrate, leaving Reliance as the sole leader in these fields for the longest time!
Dhirubhai Ambani’s story is an inspirational one. He led an inspirational life and every choice he took, was for the betterment of the Country as a whole! If Dhirubhai Ambani has taught you any other lessons, comment and let us know!
5 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women
The workplace has undergone massive changes in the last century. At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, any workplace was dominated by men while the women were delegated to run the homes. However, with the advent of the internet and new and exciting technologies, workplaces have undergone a tectonic shift. Women are no longer comfortable staying at home and are instead opting to lead teams and organisations. As every year passes, we get closer to true gender equality, women have proven time and again that they are equally capable to get the job done if not better in some instances. Names like Wolfe Herd (Bumble founder,) Kylie Jenner (Kylie Cosmetics founder,) Masaba Gupta (Masaba clothing label founder) are just some of the names who are known for leading world famous brands with their unique style of leadership.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we bring to you five women founders who run world famous and successful startups.
1) Upasana Taku-MobiKwik
If you are an Indian and are used to doing online shopping, more often than not at the time of payment, you would be directed to a payment gateway. One of these gateways would normally be MobiKwik. The startup is a well known name in the digital payments and digital wallet space. MobiKwik was founded by Upasana Taku in 2009, who prior to founding MobiKwik used to work with PayPal. Today Upasana Taku is also in charge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik.
2) Richa Kar-Zivame
An enthusiastic MBA student, Richa Kar, developed an online lingerie shopping platform in the year 2011. Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a valuation of more than $ 100 million. The brilliant idea for her own lingerie business came to light when Richa tracked Victoria’s Secret’s sales, who was one of her clients when she was working at SAP. She observed the lingerie sales figures reached peaks overseas but, Indian women were not provided with the similar innerwear. While Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, she realized the social embarrassment in India surrounding lingerie shopping. Today Richa Kar could be credited with destigmatising the uneasiness surrounding lingerie shopping in India.
3) Falguna Nayar-Nykaa
After a long stint as an investment banker, Falguni Nayar founded Nykaa.com in the year 2013. An online one stop shop for beauty products from Indian and international brands, Nykaa changed the world of online shopping. Who would have ever thought buying makeup online would be so easy? Falguni Nayar proved many critics wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.
ALSO READ: Zivame: Founding Story
4) Sabina Chopra-Yatra.com
Yatra.com is a popular Indian website for making flight and hotel bookings. Sabina Chopra was instrumental in identifying the potential for travel commerce in India and people moving towards cheaper or easier travel. By the time, people started looking to make bookings, Sabina made sure Yatra.com was already in place. Sabina was the former Head of India Operations of eBookers, which is also an online travel company based in Europe. Along with this, she was also working with Japan Airlines which further adds to her experience in the travel industry.
5) Rashmi Sinha-SlideShare
SlideShare allows people to upload and access their presentations online. While this feature is presently available everywhere, SlideShare was one of the first players in making this happen. Rashmi Sinha was one of the founders of the presentation sharing platform SlideShare. The company became so successful that in 2012, LinkedIn acquired the company for an amount of $100 million.
Let us know in the comments if you know any other wonderful women who have become leaders of their right or have started up and are doing extraordinary things. We at Startup Stories wish a wonderful Women’s Day to all the women in the world who are changemakers.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
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