Is your kid missing? Find him at my stall

The author believes that there’s magic happening all around us. All we need to do is to pay attention and get inspired. Here are three real-life stories/cases of Guerrilla activity to draw inspiration from.


Story 1:

Is your kid missing? Find him at my stall.

Kids getting lost at an event is something that happens fairly regularly, I must say. And therefore, announcements are also common. But, here’s what transpired at an event in Mumbai:

Announcement on air: 

If Munna is missing, find him at the Goli Vada Pav stall.

This message kept repeating at periodic intervals, with the only change being the name of the kid. Everyone at the event heard about Goli Vada Pav all through.

How they managed to wing it, I shall leave it to your imagination – but this is a classic guerrilla technique to get the name across, to get footfalls, and more sales. Plus PR, at no additional cost!

The Goli Vada Pav CEO Venkatesh Iyer narrated this incident at a recent conference; when you don’t have money, time or resources – that is when your creativity counts. It will all be towards the objective of getting your name across, getting more leads and more sales.


GO BOLD. Find an opening and milk it!

Be aware. Be ready. Be bold.

Ask. Agile. Action.

Story 2: SHOCK and AWE

In the second week of January, three people dressed in a Ninja costume started performing a stunt in front of a vegetable cart. Ninja stunts, obviously. The cart owner-lady and the shopkeepers watched on. After a few minutes, one of the ninjas handed over a gift hamper to the vegetable seller. This hamper consisted of a new saree, dhoti, sugarcane, jaggery and other ingredients to make sweet Pongal. The lady was shocked at first and this eventually turned into a pleasant surprise, then a big smile! The shopkeepers began to clap.

This “act” was repeated across the city of Chennai and a few more folks from a bus conductor to an elderly lady were surprised.

Why?: This “surprise” stunt was done by a Chennai based firm as a part of their CSR initiative to spread happiness around. It so happens that their corporate motto is to surprise other people by organizing unique events.

How long?: It took two days of planning and recce followed by half a day on the streets of Chennai, on a planned route.

And the big Guerrilla question: What was the ROI?

  • Awareness: The whole event was captured on pictures and videos which got them a viewership base of close to one million.
  • The press came forward to cover this exercise of spreading happiness, both print and radio. Something that would have cost them at least Rs. 40,000.
  • The video was shared with their list of customers (new and old) and that lead to an uptick in repeat business.
  • In number terms, they received 111 leads through inbound calls and mails, of which 43 were converted into clients. A pretty good return for a 2.5 day effort and Rs. 8,000 investment.
  • The biggest win for them now is that other startup companies have come forward to sponsor either in cash or kind, for’s next surprise CSR initiative!

Bold, unique and in line with the company’s core value of spreading happiness!


Shock and awe

Measure, measure, measure

Goal & objective to be paramount

Story 3: From Maruti to Mercedes

Dhandapani used to work at a petrol station in T Nagar, an area in Chennai. Apart from filling tanks, he would assist with vehicle servicing and repairs at the service center, which was a part of the petrol station. He was cordial, courteous, good at what he did and was a specialist in Maruti cars.

Soon, however, with the city growing, there was a constant need for space and the petrol station was shut down, to be replaced by a high rise building. This rendered Dhandapani and his aides without any work.

No money. No work. Several mouths to feed!

Dhandapani decided to start a vehicle service center from a shed adjoining his house. He approached the regular customers he had serviced at the old service center and made a value proposition to them.

“I will take your vehicle from your house at 7PM, service it over night, and deliver it back by 7AM, in time for you to take it to work”.

This was a unique offering and a lot of his prospects appreciated it. Because, the norm was that it took two to three days to service a car, and during that time the customers had to rely on public transport or autos/taxis.

The result? Dhandapani had paying clients from day one with this overnight service model. While servicing a car is not new, his guerrilla thought process definitely was.

As a bootstrapped entrepreneur, what uniqueness can you bring to your product or service?

Takeaway: There’s always a different way to do things. It’s up to us to constantly ideate and act, all towards the objective of generating leads, revenues and long-term clients.

Think different. Act different. Be different.

#Go Guerrilla.

P.S. Dhandapani now runs a much larger service center employing close to 35 people – and currently services only high-end cars like Mercedes Benz!

Thanks to J Krishnan of Unimity solutions for narrating this story as a part of TiE Chennai’s Startup Special Interest Group.

The next story:

Well, the next story is yours!

Now that you’ve seen these three cases, I am sure you will be pumped up to come with your own Guerrilla initiatives. And you will have the following questions:

How can I plan such guerrilla initiatives?
What to do when I am stuck?

How do I get an “execution” team?

What metrics should I track?

Stay tuned to The SmartCEO’s #GuerrillaGuru series.

If you’ve got a good Guerrilla story, please send it to us.

If you have a specific business or marketing challenge, write in.

About the author: Pravin is a startup specialist, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur and likes to call himself Pravin “Shameless” Shekar. He is the author of a book on Outlier marketing, Devil Does Care and can be reached at;

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