Case Study: The Red Elephant Foundation - MyWorld / Post 2015 Agenda

Social Media has the power to change how civil society participates and influences causes and issues they deeply care about.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: Inception Business Services, Inception Day, Case Study, Social Media, Uncategorized

Case Study: Paper Boat - Quenching thirst by rekindling memories

What was the campaign about?
Paper Boat is a brand of traditional Indian juices and drinks by Hector Beverages. What caught our key about this young, vibrant brand is the emotional connect it has made with consumers in a short span of time. Not an easy task, given the large budgets of some alternate / competitor brands. In terms of new age marketing, we find Paper Boat has trumped in their use of story-telling to create engaging content that has not just built brand awareness but a special kind of emotional connect and loyalty with its target audience. What we find works well in this brand is that the Paper Boat stories spring from the very essence of the brand and its philosophy.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: Inception Business Services, Inception Day, Marketing, Case Study, Uncategorized

Brand Platforms – Some Indian Examples

In an earlier post, we explained how we believe Brand Platforms can be leveraged in the era of social media. In this post, we share specific examples of Brand Platforms, which have worked very well in India and have captured public imagination in recent times.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: CMO, Inception Business Services, Inception Day, Marketing, BrandPlatform, communication, Ideas for business, Importance of Marketing, Social Media, target market

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS

At Inception Day, the People Panel saw a lot of interesting aspects of attracting, managing and retaining talent for start-ups and growing organisations being discussed. Moving on from gender diversity, the discussion also looked at diversity of other kinds – religion, language and origin. This prompted this blog on what workforce diversity really does for your business.
Organisations today, are supposedly more aware of the need for gender diversity. (At IBS, we are guilty of maintaining a rather skewed one which not surprisingly is currenty in favour of women!) Are women more suitable for working in start-ups or early growth companies because of their inherent instinct and emotional make-up? Perhaps more women are at liberty to opt for alternate careers or perhaps they rate smaller companies and start ups higher because of flexibility options? Whatever the reasons, there was no doubt that a healthy gender balance is a very good standard to work with. As our Keynote speaker K Pandia Rajan shared, at Ma Foi, they had always strived, from Day one, to keep the gender ratio at 48-52% at all times. This he felt had been an important rule while building a world class HR services organization.
But diversity of the workforce is not only split two ways by gender. Especially in India, diversity by means of religion, language or mother tongue, origin state – the list is quite interesting.
Here is a quick cheat sheet of sorts for you to know what Workforce diversity can or should be doing for your business.
·         As are your customers, so be your employees:
      One of the key learnings at my earlier organization (HSBC) was that customers are a diverse lot. And in any direct to customer business, a similar diversity in the workforce is often a useful tool to help your employees connect better with different sub-groups in your customer or target audience.  This was reiterated during the People Panel discussion at Inception Day. A couple of participants felt that their retail business was better oriented to service customers from different backgrounds because they had store staff from similar backgrounds.
·         Balanced needs:
      When it comes to workplace expectations, a diverse workforce may force you to create a more holistic workplace. Having a diverse team can also aid you in running your business at top gear right through the year since different groups would need time off at varying periods, particularly in the context of the wide array of festivals celebrated by different communities.
·         Better Insight:
More perspectives culled from employees of varying background can be very useful in gleaning customer or other business insight. A workforce drawn across a wider spectrum of communities can be the simplest way to get access to varying outlooks with reference to your business.
·         Global ready:
      If your business has anything remotely international about it, a diverse workforce is a great stepping-stone to ensuring you have a culture with the basic ingredients for being global. Global or multinational organization building begins right here!
·         A Neutral Culture:
      A diverse workforce is a very good way to ensure that the organization’s culture is not dominated by any one group or community, or even completely flavored by your own ideas (if you are the main owner/promoter). While we all tend to impose our conditioning upon the businesses we build, a team that is drawn from across multiple communities and backgrounds can help temper this and push towards a more neutral culture. This is probably healthier for the organization in the long run.
     
      (And oh well, here’s one more reason that is on the lighter side and definitely one for the foodies. Imagine the sheer range of culinary delights that you could sample in the office just by ensuring you have people from differently communities and sub-cultures J)
You don’t need a whole bunch of reasons, as long as even one of these appeals to you strongly. It may seem easier to work with people who are just like us. But the benefits of pushing ourselves beyond this comfort zone and ensuring workforce diversity are far too many to ignore.
We are going to be thinking a lot about this even for our own firm. How about you?

About the Author:  
Pavithra is Founder & Partner at Inception Business Services. A Marketing & Management professional with a keen interest in people and passion for ideas, Pavithra moved from being a Banker & Wealth Management professional to entrepreneur. Working with start ups, Brand management, Customer engagement, Content creation and Coaching/Training are areas of work that most excite her. Multi-tasking entrepreneur, mother of a 3 year old and wife of a businessman, Pavithra confesses that her 2013 resolutions include being regular with her blog writing and any encouragement in that direction is welcome. Mail her at pavithra at inception.net.in
Author – Team Inception

Categories: alternate career, global ready, Inception Business Services, Inception Day, K Pandia Rajan, Keynote speaker, Ma Foi, workforce diversity, balanced needs, better insights, Culture, HR services, People Panel

People for Start-ups

CAPITAL P
While doing my research for this article, I was amazed! When you type ‘resources for start-ups’ the most common and top of the line entries focus on financial resourcing, idea resourcing, design resourcing and so on. So little has been said about ‘people resourcing’. Getting the right people is half the battle won, for after all, they are the ones who will take the company forward.
Here are some important things to keep in mind while hiring for your organization.
Sharing the vision:
In this day and age of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Job sites etc. it is easy enough to get applicants to see and apply for a job at your company. However, irrespective of which level you are looking to hire for, an important criteria in the process should be to ensure that the candidate shares your company’s vision and truly believes in your proposition. The candidate should understand the values on which you have established your start-up, the path you chose to expand the business and be able to identify and contribute to these through his or her own skills. Fantastic growth and hence immediate increase in pay, on-the-job perks etc. are things that many candidates look for when they join start-ups. While growth in Start-ups is definitely faster, the expectation of immediate rewards can lead to disillusionment and disappointment in newly hired candidates. So while recruiting for your start up, remember to give a balanced picture and focus on the vision rather than on the compensation.
The Law of Averages:
When recruiting for your start-up you will find a lot of young talent applying for the positions. While it is tempting to hire fresh young candidates to keep the enthusiasm and energy going, it is equally important to have a few seasoned employees on board. Senior team members tend to bring in a practical angle and are great at handling relationships given their years of experience. They discern the possible and the probable and add tremendous value with their insights. The cost of such resources may be higher but well worth the investment. The ultimate goal is to have a good mix of young talent that is enthusiastic and buzzing with ideas and having experienced hands giving direction and shape to the organizations development. Once the balance is achieved, you have a winning workforce!
Equity- A start-up’s best tool!
What happens when you start a company with minimal capital and are keen on hiring talent? Today, the trends are shifting towards offering a part salary and a part equity stake. Many start-ups are extremely successful in attracting the right talent by offering compensation through equity- wholly or partly. The advantage of this set up is that often you will end up attracting those who are genuinely interested in the company’s business model and want to be part of it. “The people you want to attract to your business are the people who want equity”- Bill Harris, founder of Paypal (See what else Harris says here ). People come on board for the challenges that the start-up offers and are happy to be compensated for their work through equity. As an owner, you are also sure that your liability is limited to the performance of the business and are not taking on the burden of fully salaried employees.   The flipside to this though, maybe that your relinquish decision making to some extent. However, if you can find a perfect trade-off, this approach may serve you very well in the long run. You can read up on how to calculate equity here.
Keep looking- even if you are not hiring right away
Almost every guide on hiring for start-ups has this point. And yet I believe it is not emphasized enough! From personal experience, I have seen that keeping your mind and doors open can land you resources you would have missed out on had you believed otherwise. So many hires happen without it being part of the plan. If you meet a like-minded person who you think will fit into your business scheme (maybe not today but sometime in the future), express your desire to have them on board. Even if they do not consider it immediately, they know that there is an opportunity open to them to consider. And even if they will never consider it, they may know others who will form a good fit for your organization. So stay open to networking, not just for business but also to procure the right talent for your organization.
People contribute directly to the organizations performance, and hence getting the right people and offering them adequate reason to stay will put your company’s growth on the right trajectory!
If you’d like to read up some more on hiring for your start-up, here are some reference links:
For more interesting perspectives on People and Talent for start ups and young organisations, join us for Inception Day on 1 st June 2013. Our People Panel promises to be a great forum for talking about this. To confirm your participation at the event, click here:  http://event.ayojak.com/event/inception-day-2013

About the Author:  
Madhumita Ganapathy  - Associate Consultant at Inception Busi ness Services
Madhumita is a brand marketer known for her exuberance and zeal for getting things done. An MBA grad, Madhu started her marketing career at ITC and has been with IBS since mid-2012. She has contributed immensely to shaping  some of our young client brands. She now supports us in her new role as Associate Consultant based in Connecticut, USA. Apart from her passion for brands & marketing, Madhu loves classical Indian dance, travel and writing.
Connect  Madhu on LinkedIn.
or
Connect with her via email at  [email protected]
Author – Team Inception

Categories: 4P's of Marketing, Inception, Inception Day, Marketing, People, Start Ups, Business, communication, Customer Service, Empathy, Employees, innovation, P's of Marketing

CROWD SOURCED FUNDING – AN INTERESTING WAY TO FUND YOUR BUSINESS IDEA

You wake up one morning and it hits you. The product or service that wants to get created stands in front of you and beckons you. Sure enough every entrepreneur has faced this moment - the moment your idea stares you in the face and awaits your efforts to make it a reality.   And it is here that your journey begins- you hit the drawing board and plan how you want your product or service to take shape, who are the people you want to rope in and what your ultimate goal is going to be about. And that’s when you realize you need a lot more than your idea- you need money. 
It’s a common journey for most entrepreneurs. While the ideas and resources required may vary from case to case, the common need for most is the dough (so to speak). A lot of entrepreneurs begin with investing their own savings, mortgaging assets and borrowing from friends and family. Yet there’s that point where one realizes- this just isn’t enough. Additional funding is the only solution to this roadblock. The options available today are numerous ranging from bank loans to Angel investors to Venture Capitalists and so on. 
However, the focus of this article is an interesting angle to fundraising. Kickstarter.com is a US based fund raising platform that provides tools to raise funds for creative projects.  Launched in 2009, Kickstarter has had over 96,000 projects that have been launched on their website since their inception. While you can read more about Kickstarter.com here, in this article, I am focusing on what it really stands for and how you as an entrepreneur can fund your project using a similar concept.
The basic model is that of crowd sourcing funds. You have a fabulous idea and not enough monetary resources. Wealth, on the other hand is distributed. This is not about a few big Angel Investors or VCs trying to make money by giving you a boost. It’s about the number of people who believe in your idea and are willing to back you up with their own small contribution. 
The core concept of Kickstarter hinges on the idea of connecting likeminded groups of people- when you find a set of people who see value in your proposition, they will (literally) put their money on you. It brings together people who are genuinely interested in seeing ideas through and helping people achieve their fund raising targets. It allows participation of a multitude of people who may not have millions of dollars to throw into a project and yet can be a part of a fabulous, one-in-a-million idea by contributing as little as $5. The rewards offered, give them the feeling of having and owning a badge or a title of an investor and the chance to receive uncommon, project-related merchandise. The promise of an early preview or early benefits in association with the business idea drives individuals to make the contribution and opt into a cause they believe in. And most importantly, it makes this group of investors belong to a community of those who have contributed. In marketing parlance one could say this model attracts the innovators and early adopters. In many cases it even attracts the early majority.
So if you have a fantastic idea waiting to see the light of day and your biggest constraint is money, just look around- you may find that there are many who believe in your idea and are willing to invest in it in their own small ways. Build a fundraising program that is inclusive and accessible to a large group of interested investors and ensure that you make them part of your journey. The quantum of money one can bring in is not necessarily a criterion for an ‘investor’. Ensure that one can donate a minimum amount (based on the tiers you set up) and yet become part of the project. Attract the ‘right kind’ of people to invest in your idea. Design the fundraiser to catch the attention of those with interests similar to your business’s idea. Passion for similar things often leads to heavier investments by individuals. 
It definitely beats the other option of doing an Initial public offer hollow ! Without the hassles of regulatory shenanigans, you can get access to a large base of investors. The one thing you must remember is that when you crowd source funds, you owe every investor the courtesy of being accountable to them especially because they don’t have the big regulators protecting their interests. You got to respect that.  
When you begin to look around, figure out the value you can deliver to an investor at various levels of investment. Include them into your grand plans and reward them with exclusive previews, merchandise, access to resources or whatever else you can offer through your business idea. You will be surprised at how many people are actually interested in making things happen for your business! Insignificant as a small contribution may seem to begin with, remember the saying little drops make an ocean!

(For more ideas and perspectives on how to fund your business, register and attend Inception Day 2013 and catch our panel discussion on Finance & Funding. Click here to know more.)

About the Author:  
Madhumita Ganapathy   - Associate Consultant at Inception Busi ness Services
Madhumita is a brand marketer known for her exuberance and zeal for getting things done. An MBA grad, Madhu started her marketing career at ITC and has been with IBS since mid-2012. She has contributed immensely to shaping  some of our young client brands. She now supports us in her new role as Associate Consultant based in Connecticut, USA. Apart from her passion for brands & marketing, Madhu loves classical Indian dance, travel and writing.
Connect Madhu on LinkedIn.
or
Connect with her via email at [email protected]
Author – Team Inception

Categories: Capital, Finance, Inception, Inception Day, Investors, Start Ups, Crowd Sourcing, Funding, Ideas for business, innovation, Raising Money

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