Breathing Life into a Brand

Breathing Life into a Brand

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr AVIK CHATTOPADHYAY

Co-FOUNDER – EXPEREAL INDIA

27th July 2018:

Fridays at Great Lakes, Gurgaon, generally mean a session with a seasoned industry expert. Dressed in our formal best, armed with laptops and notepads, the Great Lakes’ PGDM batches, Aztecs and Jaguars, were ready to welcome Mr Avik Chattopadhyay for an interactive session focused on Branding. Being a marketing enthusiast, I was eagerly looking forward to this session.

Mr Avik Chattopadhyay: He is the founder of a brand consultancy firm, Expereal India. The firm deals with building strategy for several brands. He possesses extensive experience of more than a decade in Branding for the automobile industry and has previously worked with giants like Volkswagen, Maruti Suzuki, Apollo Tyres, Peugeot, to name a few, in leadership roles.

The interactive session majorly focused on the characteristics of a brand that keeps it relevant in the long run. Mr Chattopadhyay explained that at the heart of each and every brand, lie some core values and characteristics which derive its purpose and are in-sync with the hearts of the consumers. If a brand cannot connect with its audience, it is eventually and inevitably going to phase out.

He further added that the idea of a brand is applicable to everything, from products and services to organizations, teams and even individuals. In order to substantiate his words, he offered examples of prolific standings like that of the Nalanda University – standing for knowledge, the Pyramids – standing for their engineering marvel, and the Himalayas – standing for both tranquillity and as a symbol of challenge. While these can be perceived as products from a marketing perspective, there are individuals like Elon Musk, Christopher Nolan and Steve Jobs who are nothing short of a brand in themselves.

He explained that in today’s context, a brand is something that is highly misunderstood and many a time is just equated to a bunch of tangibles like a logo, slogan, advertising or maybe a Facebook page. A brand in its entirety is way more than that and is reflected by “what it stands for.” It is something that is promised and delivered consistently.

Having worked with some of the most reputable brands – Maruti Suzuki and Apollo Tyres – he then took the students for a Case Study ride to showcase how these two companies came out from a series of troubles and bad market standing and how they were able to turn around the brand image to what it stands for today.

In the case of Maruti Suzuki, he described the worst couple of years in the company’s timeline i.e. from 2000 to mid-2002 and how that was a major motivation to introduce a product which entirely revolutionised the Indian automobile market. The product was Maruti Suzuki Swift. While Swift was built for a newer target market and was designed as per it, the entire project remained true to the brand idea of Maruti Suzuki, which is – democratization of mobility.

A similar case of Apollo Tyres was discussed. While Maruti Suzuki had a very inside-outside approach to solve its problem, Apollo did just the opposite and succeeded too. He laid out the importance of setting and adhering to benchmarks along with devising a long a term strategy to be truly successful.

The session turned out to be more enlightening than any of us imagined and that was evident by the storm of questions Mr Chattopadhyay received from the knowledge-hungry Great Lakers. To conclude, this was one of the sessions which will be in the memory of everyone who aspires to make a career in Branding.

Author: S SnehanshN

PGDM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

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From Table Reservations to A Leading Restaurant Technology Provider – The story of Dineout

From Table Reservations to A Leading Restaurant Technology Provider – The story of Dineout

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr VIVEK KAPOOR

Co-FOUNDER – DINEOUT

14th July 2018

On a particularly hot summer Friday afternoon, the Ninjas and Aztecs – the PGPM and PGDM 2019 batches of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon – came together to welcome Mr Vivek Kapoor, a sailor-turned-entrepreneur and co-founder of the flourishing start-up – Dineout.

Mr Vivek Kapoor: At the age of 18, Mr Kapoor joined the Merchant Navy and sailed as a Cadet for 2 years on Italian-owned vessels. He sailed for almost 30 months as a 2nd Officer and has a Chief Officers Certificate of Competency from DG Shipping, India, before he set out to be an entrepreneur.

Inception of Dineout

Mr Kapoor took the students on a 90-minute journey to showcase how he started the company with three of his friends, who all had been working with international MNCs. They planned to launch Dineout as a restaurant reservation system on February 29th, 2012, after having partnered with 80 restaurants in Delhi with zero on-boarding fees.

As is the case with any start-up, the initial days were not as smooth as they might have imagined. In a pre-Jio era, when smartphones were still becoming popular, getting users on their website was a Herculean task. So was getting a response from the restaurants. In order to tackle this, they set up a hotline for booking reservations along with shifting their email-based system to SMS based. Six months down the line, in August 2012, they landed their first investor, who interestingly happened to be one of their early customers. Within a year of being in operation, their team grew from 4 to 30 and their user base grew from 3,000 diners a month to over 8,000 diners.

Partnership & Acquisition

Soon after, they were approached by Times Internet (formerly known as TimesCity), the “Yellow Pages for restaurants” as he called them, for a partnership requiring them to power the “Book Table” button on their website. Within just two months of partnership, they offered to acquire Dineout. In Mr Kapoor’s words, “As entrepreneurs, it was a very difficult and confusing time, because no entrepreneur would start his company and think that within one or two years of the company’s existence, he would have to wash his hands off the company”. Times Internet, however, had different plans. They still wanted the founders to run the company even after the acquisition.

Transition from Table Reservations to A Leading Restaurant Technology Provider

Post-acquisition, from 12,000 diners a month in April 2014, they grew to 54,000 diners a month by April 2015. They scaled to 8 cities, and the team grew from 30 people to 150 which included a 45-people call-centre team. However, booking tables via calls wasn’t a sustainable way to move forward. A software-based system was the need of the hour, and that’s when they acquired Inresto, a small Bengaluru-based technology company.

With Inresto in their portfolio, Dineout grew to be a company that builds technology for restaurants and not just facilitates table reservations for diners. Inresto developed into a tool that catered to all the needs of a restaurant, from Feedback Management, Table Reservation to Order Management and Campaigns. Along with having a user base of over a million users, Dineout currently is the leading technology provider to the restaurants.

Challenges

Dineout did face a lot of challenges such as lack of inter-partner chemistry, lack of clarity, organizational structure, infrastructural issues and doubts on their validity. Mr Kapoor brought to light the fact that one needs to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Equity shares amongst the partners prior to the acquisition were not equal and this kind of disparity can be brutal. This was overcome after the acquisition by keeping in mind the future growth of the company.

While talking about Dineout’s strategy for acquiring users, Mr Kapoor said that closing the loop, or completing the transaction, is important. To attain this, Dineout introduced Dineout SmartPay, a brainchild of co-founder Sahil Jain, to identify customers on Inresto and make payments easier. They have also aggregated various delivery services like Zomato, Swiggy, Food Panda along with payment services like Paytm, Freecharge, PhonePe, Visa, etc. He also mentioned that if discounts are considered the right way to go, they are actually not. Simply providing discounts is not the right way, but how the discounts are positioned is more important.

Rising above the Competition

On being asked about how Dineout is trying to create a different position for itself among companies such as Zomato, Nearbuy and EazyDiner operating within the same space, Mr Kapoor responded by stating that the USP of the company is Adaptability. Dineout is focused on doing what the restaurant wants them to do and what the diner expects them to do. Zomato has the highest restaurant discovery rate but it lags behind Dineout in table reservations. Dineout SmartPay has recorded more transactions than Paytm in restaurants. From the restaurants perspective, Dineout is far deeper in providing technology than any other competitor. Dineout is also getting into Big Data and Analytics, working with around 40,000 data points, helping partner restaurants with expansion and customer data analysis.

Author: Arpit Gupta

PGPM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

Uncovering the Secret of Success in the Corporate Sector: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

Uncovering the Secret of Success in the Corporate Sector: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr ASHISH JAIN

VICE PRESIDENT – RIGHT MANAGEMENT, INDIA

We often take our freedom on social media for granted. We love to show off our brand new purchases, check-in at some of the finest bars and pubs in town, share an insane number of selfies and also express our religious and political views before a large audience. We often forget that we are, in fact, being watched and judged. Our current employers, our prospective employers, nearly everyone who scrolls by our posts builds up an opinion about us.

7th July 2018: It was a bright Saturday morning. The Ninjas –PGPM batch of 2018-19, at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon – were once again decked up in their sharp suits, armed with notepads, pens and laptops, to attend a talk delivered by Mr. Ashish Jain, Vice President of Right Management, India, and his colleagues, Shivpriya G and Ishana Singh. After weeks of exams, project submissions and assignments, an interactive industry engagement event was well overdue. The Ninjas were in for a fruitful learning experience from people who have made the most out of their personal experiences and grown immensely in their professional lives.

Right Management India: Right Management is one of the leading talent development and career management firms in the world. Established in Philadelphia, USA, in 1980, the company has grown by leaps and bounds by establishing its presence in the US, UK, Canada, China and India. It acquired People Tech in 1996 and Coutts Consulting in 2002. It now is a leading brand under Milwaukee-based Manpower Group, one of the largest Fortune 500 staffing firms in the world. Manpower Group CEO Jonas Prising holds a seat at the World Economic Forum. Right Management has participated in the VivaTech Convention, which is a major platform dedicated to technological innovations, where many promising start-ups also come forward to showcase their offerings. The firm is also actively involved in leveraging Artificial Intelligence to ease the hiring process for corporates.

Ashish Jain: Ashish Jain is an alumnus of Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad. An MBA specialized in Human Resources and Marketing, Ashish has also completed the HBX CORe Credential of Readiness certification from Harvard Business School. He began his managerial career as a consultant with Positive Moves Consulting in 2008, and worked with the firm until he joined Right Management India in 2010. He started off as a consultant and has worked his way up to the post of Vice President in a matter of 8 years and is now spearheading various digital initiatives in the firm, bringing Artificial Intelligence to the field of talent acquisition and hiring.

Social Media – A Deal-Maker or Breaker: Ashish Jain and his colleagues took the Ninjas through a 90-minutes journey to show them how the effective use of social media, or the lack of it, can make or break a person’s career or a business. Quoting numerous examples from their personal lives and from around the world, they delivered the importance of leveraging social networking to connect with people in a manner that it opens up new pathways towards fruitful career opportunities.

Social networking sites have their own beauty as well as pitfalls. They give each person a platform to interact with people spread across the globe, to present their talents and achievements before all of their friends, to bask in the glory of their latest acquisitions of property or automobiles or to voice their opinions regarding various socio-political affairs. And this is exactly where we need to tread carefully. Suddenly an obsession to rant on political or religious matters, to post an album full of selfies or boast about one’s capacity to consume alcoholic beverages no longer seem to be one of the best things to do on social media. Recruiters increasingly screen candidates on the basis of their social media footprint to analyze their personality and determine if they are fit to be a part of their organization.

The Big Five Personality Traits – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (OCEAN) – form the parameters on which recruiters are beginning to gauge a candidate’s potential to adhere to the organization’s culture, uphold its values and attain its goals. These traits can be measured by conducting personality tests. But sometimes, going through a person’s social media footprint, itself, gives a brief idea about his or her traits. The opinions posted by a person, his or her comments and reactions to contrasting views from others, language, grammar and vocabulary, relevance and importance of the subject in question, and many such factors paint a near-clear picture of how that person might behave in a corporate environment. Sharing posts related to one’s career aspirations and passions, posting relevant and sensible comments on related posts, following influential persons and thought leaders, having a reasonable balance between followers and followed users, following the right people at the right time and steering clear of controversial topics can, on the other hand, help one bag the dream job he or she is looking for.

Social media has become a powerful tool for self-expression and sharing feedback. Corporates are becoming more and more cautious about their interactions with customers, and they have to. We live in an era where a single tweet or a Facebook post from a highly dissatisfied customer can cause a company to lose customers and also cause its share prices to dip considerably. In such an era, a company cannot afford to be indifferent to its customer’s needs and complaints.

In Conclusion: What started as a tool to connect with people, socialize and meet like-minded people has now turned into a major contributor in myriads of aspects of the corporate world. Let us make wise use of this free-of-cost utility to enrich our lives and form beneficial connections. Just like we have learnt to isolate our personal lives from our professional lives, let us also learn to choose among our choices of social networking tools to showcase our personal lives, our hobbies and aspirations, our career progression and capabilities, each in its own best way. As rightfully stated by Ashish, 65% of talent acquisitions take place through referrals. And referrals are created through strong connections with the right people over the right channels. Ashish Jain and his colleagues from Right Management have shown the Ninjas a new perspective towards social media which the Ninjas are keen on following diligently going forward.

Author: Bruno Nellissery

PGPM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Success Mantra for Start-Ups: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

The Success Mantra for Start-Ups: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr DEEPAK GOEL

CEO – KARMACIRCLES

“Do. Or Do Not. There is no try” – Yoda, Jedi Master

Understanding of the above quote is an important pre-requisite for an entrepreneur to be successful. The path of Entrepreneurship is the one that is filled with utmost uncertainties that one can face compared to the other naturally progressing career options.

Being an aspiring entrepreneur, Great Lakes, offered me ample opportunities to interact and learn directly from the masters of this trade. As the campus is located in the corporate hub of the country, Great Lakes, Gurgaon enables extensive industry engagement with entrepreneurs, CXOs and industry experts as they visit the campus regularly to share their perspectives with the future business leaders of the nation. That’s how our batch (PGDM 2017-19) got to meet Mr Deepak Goel, CEO & Founder Karmacircles.

Mr Deepak Goel’s Guest Lecture at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was a compilation of his life and thought processes that aimed at providing the students with a more Entrepreneurial viewpoint of life rather than just living in terms of pay packages. An IIT-Delhi educated techie who went on to live the “American Dream” with his job at Microsoft to pursuing his MBA at UC, Berkeley to working at multiple companies from scratch with an entrepreneurial spirit and making them grow to where they are today, he has worn multiple hats because of his multi-faceted skill sets. This is what differentiates him from the other bunch of entrepreneurs, at least in the Indian context. He truly learnt the art of Entrepreneurship in and out, theoretically and practically to be able to follow his life calling of creating Karmacircles.

The lecture was a mix of Startup Organizational Culture, Valuation of Startups, General Principles of Success and quite an insightful bunch of advice to the multiple questions asked by the Students.

At the start of the lecture, he laid a very simple formula for a successful startup involving just four steps. (1) Identify the problem you want to solve, (2) Solve the problem, (3) Monetize the Solution created and then (4) go for more money to scale up the solution. A rather simple algorithm which in reality is really difficult to follow as even developing/handling that one simple product/solution is quite complex. This is what calls for the Product Management Concept. Explaining his understanding and experiences in Product Management, he expressed dissatisfaction of how Product Management is done or pursued by organizations in India as it still remains to be a highly misunderstood concept in the country. Being a seasoned professional in the field, he emphasized how the concept can help in building successful products within a company, going on to creating multiple successful companies within a big company, like Google. Working at Microsoft, he knew much more about Google and its processes than Microsoft which earned him the name of “The Google Guy.” He then shared some insights as to how Google managed its Product Line and has grown from a Search Engine to the huge yet entrepreneurial tech-conglomerate it is today.

He then went on to share his learning experiences under the guidance of Eric Ries of the Lean Startup fame and even Eric Ries’ Guru Steve Blank. The two major concepts he learnt were The Value Hypothesis and Growth Hypothesis. When these philosophies are incorporated in a company in its ideation phase, it significantly enhances its probability of achieving long-term success, thereby, ensuring value and growth creation.

Explaining Value Hypothesis, Mr. Goel talked in detail how companies can create value. Not just in monetary terms, but value that customers can relate to. But for doing so, the companies must have an eagle eye vision of the solution of the problem that they set out to tackle. Giving real examples from the start-up and corporate world, he differentiated how certain companies create value straight away to companies that create value over time.

Constantly comparing his Valley experience to his Indian experience, he stated that Indian start-ups and new-age companies mainly focus only on creating monetary value but not the intangible value and many of those companies go on to create initial momentum, to a great extent monetize it, but keep pushing their goalposts for the value creation. One of the main questions he raised during the lecture was whether these companies will be able to continue the momentum once the cash inflow slows down.

Explaining Growth Hypothesis, he talked about continuously doing what you do best and create personal and home-ground advantage in areas as such to create a true product that can grow sustainably over time.

Commenting on the Indian attitude of approaching jobs, he shared his story further and explained how he took several pay cuts in order to expand his learning curve, something he finds lacking in the Indian scenario. Linking the topic, he shared the factors one should consider while taking up a new job and said that the person you are going to work for, is the most important factor. Not being completely driven by package but rather through the group one is going to work with and the learning outcome one has out of the job as other major factors. He advised students to be ethical and act professionally when it comes to working in organizations.

In the last few minutes of the lecture, he gave a brief glimpse of his passions which include, Social Networks, Mentoring, and creating valuable products that solve problems. Being an aspiring entrepreneur myself, I found this session to be the most illuminating.

Such interactions with industry stalwarts prepare the students for the challenges of the business world and Great Lakes gives utmost importance to these guest lectures as they are the most crucial ingredient for developing business ready managers. The importance of these interactions is evident with the fact that 150 plus industry leaders, entrepreneurs and CXOs have visited Great Lakes last year and shared their valuable insights with the students to prepare them for what’s to come.

Author: S SnehanshN

PGDM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon