Catch-22 for start-up brand building

Catch-22 for start-up brand building

In the initial days of starting a venture, an entrepreneur is faced with multiple dilemmas – budget needed for brand building, brand positioning, identifying the target customer, to name a few. The panel discussion on Day 1 of the Smart CEO – afaqs! Brand Owners’ Summit addressed this dilemma with four young entrepreneurs to see how they handled it in their organisations



Krish Subramanium, Founder, Chargebee, had been working with software majors when a few friends and he decided to start their venture providing subscription billing and recurring billing solution for online web apps on a SAAS-based billing mode for small and medium companies. According to him, Chargebee has been able to penetrate its target markets globally by positioning itself as a problem solver, helping queries from entrepreneurs on different fora – like Quora and HackerNews – they visit regularly. Chargebee’s blogs also are meticulously researched to first understand what challenges their target communities typically face and suggesting effective solutions. The budget, therefore, has been kept low and yet has proved efficient because it creates respect and trust.

Vedanarayanan Vedantam, Marketing Head, Stayzilla, points out that their portal offers stay options for budget travellers. It has been successful in establishing its credentials by remaining focused on its strengths – which is, offering a variety of options in the three-star and below stay category, 20,000 of which are exclusive to Stayzilla. This segment is underserved, and disorganised. Stayzilla is trying to raise the standard and also liaise between the customer and the businesses for improving the stay experience. At some level, for Stayzilla, its product is its marketing, and Stayzilla communicates that effectively.

J Raghavan, Founder, Amelio Childcare, wanted to bring out a new offering, that of offering childcare at the workplace. While his entrepreneurial journey started on a high (Raghavan and his wife and co-founder, Sridevi, won a business plan competition at Harvard Business School which kick started their entrepreneurial journey), the global recession is 2008 meant that corporates were not very receptive. Undaunted, the duo followed their heart and are currently running 15 centres in Chennai and planning six more in Bengaluru. They have been able to achieve a breakthrough and establish their credentials by going where their target customers are – in townships and near corporates. Raghavan says, “It was about direct sales for us. Meeting and e-mailing several HR managers, on a regular basis.”

Manick Rajendran, Founder, iMMi Life, a serial entrepreneur, is in the healthcare space, trying to reduce the occurrence of heart attacks by helping potential heart patients’ spot their problem early. He believes that he has to mature the market since it’s a new concept he’s trying out. To build a brand, he believes the message to potential customers should be consistent, not parroted, and should add value to their venture.

Chandu Nair, Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and Moderator summarised to say brands should not be afraid to make mistakes. They should look at the data, create a niche based on the analysis, and aim for pull rather than push marketing.

Advertising Amelio Childcare Angel Investor Branding ChargeBee iMMi Life Marketing Startup Marketing Stayzilla

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.

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