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Creative Digital Marketing Startup 'The Small Big Idea' is "Onam meets Baisakhi meets Makarsankranti"

Meet the funniest social media management guys you will ever meet: “Every pitch we are not invited to is heart-breaking. We wear black on those days and mourn silently.”

Their work is associated with the epic Big Boss series and the 2015 ICC World Cup. They don’t make cold calls and they don’t need angel (or demon) investors. They don’t have to because the founders were super stars in the marketing scene with Zee TV, Reliance, Times Television network and Videocon d2h.

When a digital marketer comes out with lines like, “Take a crazy idea. Break it into two. See what’s inside. Let your audience see it too.” You just have to find out more about them.

Harikrishnan Pillai and Manish Solanki, the cofounders, introduces us to their TSBI (The Small Big Idea)

Why did you decide to found this venture?

If you’re expecting answers that discuss market shares and excel sheets, you would probably be disappointed. It was gut, instinct and hunger. (PS: This will be the title of our book, if we ever write one). 1st February, 2014, was our launch date. We launched on that day for two reasons: 1. It was cofounder Harikrishnan Pillai’s birthday the very next day and 2. Because we had enough foresight to know it was a smart way to only spend on one party every February for the rest of our lives.

Share with us what’s special about this venture and how it’s different from its competitors?

The endeavor is to be creative, service oriented and outcome driven, and all that at the same time at the right price. I am sure every agency strives to achieve the same. Some of us get their early and some of us get there late. We guess that’s the only difference.

How did you manage to fund this idea?

We were lucky to start the business with a client on board. But we were very frugal. We worked out of coffee shops, friend’s offices, taxis and once we even sat in a mall loo to complete a presentation on time. (PS: loos are damn peaceful). We used the money from client wins to expand the business. We have no angel (or demon) investors and the business sustains itself.

What are/what will be your monetization paths?

The cash cow remains Social Media Management. Video forms a big chunk of our revenue now. And then there is obviously media planning and buying, insights and ORM.

What marketing strategies and plans are in place to grow the business?

Mostly, our work has attracted a lot of referrals and guess our good karma from our previous jobs helps us. We don’t do cold calls, yet. And then there are angels like you guys who like to profile us. What more do we need?

What is the market size and opportunity?

Every brand, small, medium big is going digital to varied extents. Even the serial-non-advertisers are dabbling with digital. Government policies are pro-digital. Platforms, telecom companies, device manufacturers are running on full throttle. Content creators and aggregators are flourishing. Audience wants convenience and is thirsty for content.

It’s Onam meets Baisakhi meets Makarsankranti for the people involved.

Any challenges faced setting up? Anything unique to your situation?

Yes. That we no longer were marketing leads of TV channels. We were now cofounders of the one millionth digital startup. We were not from an agency background and lacked humility.

We didn’t know how to keep a straight face while being said no to, as the client rejected the idea we thought had the potential to save mankind. But we learnt. And fast. Our background as marketing leads came to our rescue as we could empathise better. We also are turning into yogis and can now dispassionately trash our own ideas. Aparigraha is not far away.

Share with us some best and worst memories while running the business

Best memories are made daily. Every client win, every industry story, every employee added, every new chair bought in the office, every new brief, excites us as much as it excited us 3 years back.

Every pitch we are not invited to is heart-breaking. We wear black on those days and mourn silently.



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