Zahir Wallani, Founder, Brand Catalyst Media


In the technology savvy world of today a company’s website also serves as a calling card to potential clients. There is a problem here though as when we visit a website, there is sometimes a bit of a let down in the areas of usability and appeal which reflects poorly on the company. However, some sites are appealing and fun to use for the average netizen. With the aim of delivering a combination of Visual Appeal and Function Effectiveness “Brand Catalyst Media(BCM)” was started in August 2005, by Zahir Wallani and Burges Dandiwala. It functions as a Creative Agency to pursue the fields of Web, Print, Content Management, Marketing, and Design.

Yourstory spoke to one half of the team of young entrepreneurs, and gleaned a few facts from him.Young entrepreneur Zahir Wallani told us more about how BCM came to be. He says “Brand Catalyst Media was forged out of the affinity my partner (Burges Dandiwala) and I shared for the web and the world of advertising. Burges having his strengths in Advertising, Strategies and Marketing and me being inclined towards Design & Web Technologies, it was quite a perfect fit from the get go. We started as friends working at the same company, being unable to continue at our jobs due to personal reasons, we quit and started our own agency with a computer in hand(actually on a desk) and a dream and vision of one day changing the way India looked at websites. We were a driven and determined bunch of young guys who felt that the Indian web scene could definitely use some upgrading. Since then, we’ve concentrated our efforts on delivering our clients with websites that look great and work even better.”

“Our efforts over the past 4 years have given us the opportunity to provide our services to some reputed brands both locally and internationally thus exposing us to a variety of creative challenges. Each project has provided us with a unique opportunity to challenge ourselves and push the boundaries of creative thinking while working with new yet Sustainable Technological choices. Our unique approach to projects allows us to eXceed(Evaluate eXplore Communicate Evolve Execute and Deploy) expectations we set for ourselves as an agency. In less than 4 years, we’ve deployed over a 100 websites successfully. Though our core expertise lie in High End Website Design and Content Management Systems, we believe in the power of branding and thus extend our services across various media such as print, marketing, advertising etc to truly take advantage of brand convergence at all levels.”

“Our portfolio is spread across various domains; right from textile to entertainment, from personal pages to portals, no challenge is too small thus no challenge is too big. Today we serve our clients with everything they need from thinking of a website to actually deploying one and everything in between. Limiting ourselves has never been a strong point at BCM and therefore each project has given us the chance to learn, grow and apply new methods.”

Their services don’t just end at making a pretty and useful website. Unlike other web developers who leave you in the lurch; they will guide you till you can manage on your own. Zahir explains “Our job is to primarily provide our clients with the most effective solution as well as a good looking one. Surveys prove that if a website isn’t aesthetically pleasing, visitors have a hard time trusting it. We take our clients problem and convert that problem into the project challenge.”

“Throw in a little creative input, (sometimes a lot of it), add features to tackle future needs, mix it with some programming magic and voila, you have a solution that’s easy on the eyes and even easier to manage. Infact, most clients that come to us have one problem in common, maintaining the website. Our native Content Management System(CMS) solves that problem completely. If you have used Microsoft Word, our CMS is a breeze! We have served over a 100 clients with multiple websites per client over the years.”

Their business sense has dictated that they not just meet expectations but surpass them. Zahir laid out the facts saying “Our business model is based primarily on one thing and one thing only, making the clients life easier. Making a website is one angle but like any product in the IT market, it’s the product integrity and after sales that make a lot of difference. We are a CORE Programming company that specializes in products made totally from scratch, void of any ready made (open source) code. Thus, every website deployed by our company is specifically custom made for our client’s needs. To take it a level further, we stand by our products providing each client with a 60 day Bug Buffer during which we fix any and all bugs free of cost.”

“On the other side, we make sure that the front end is enriched with the best of visualizations and web technology making the website an experience rather than just an information point. We firmly believe that unless you exceed a client’s expectations, they will never come back to you. So we make sure we do all it takes to bring a smile to our clients faces. For us, its not just about good websites, it’s about good business.”

They are currently in the process of planning an increase in their staff. Zahir says “However, we also firmly believe that an agency doesn’t have to be massive to do great work. A small sized agency can deliver if they work with a higher level of efficiency.”

“Ours is yet a young company that started with just Burges and me and within 2 years we grew to a fully qualified team of Designers, Programmers, Animators and Coders. Our current team strength is 10 and we take on more members as and when the need arises.”

He also explained his leaning towards entrepreneurship saying “Simply because it gives Burges and I an amazing level of satisfaction to take a business problem and see it from beginning to end till we’ve converted that problem or requirement into the end product. The opportunity to bring more into a project, make it better, make it smarter, market it to the audience and finally serve a client need to the fullest is just way too gratifying an experience. Our 9-5 jobs had limits, there was only so much we could do but when you’re in the pilot seat and you have a client instilling their trust in you to deliver, it’s an amazing driving force all together.”

His field also has challenges that mirror those that most entrepreneurs have and then some others too. He says “Over the years we’ve grown at lot as a company. In our field, you are your technology and a client is his website. This has posed various creative and technological challenges to us. Be it in terms of taking projects to a whole new level or experimenting with completely untouched technologies, our teams enthusiasm, freedom to experiment, eagerness to deliver and an overall work environment that encourages personal as well as professional growth has allowed us to deliver some amazing solutions.”

“Like everything, being an entrepreneur has been a learning curve for both my partner and me. Had we known then what we know now, maybe things would’ve been different. All in all though, we’ve definitely made our share of mistakes but none big enough to be a road block, we treated them as stepping stones and a learning experience and guess what, we’re still on that curve J As someone rightly said, growth is making sure you don’t make the same mistakes you made last year, this year.”

BCM was funded by Burges and Zahir out of their own pockets. Zahir explains how this was saying “Our project served as the source of finance for the company and we’ve been lucky to have the right helping hands along the way.”

Zahir firmly believes that each project is an achievement in itself, not only in terms of the work they have done, but the relations they have established. He says “Each project has been very special to us and at the risk of being diplomatic, I think its only fair to say that no one project has brought us maximum achievement. Over the years, we’ve managed to forge a literal relationship with each of our project and clients which has allowed us to churn out some amazing work within the shortest of timelines. I think that is our biggest achievement, delivering websites without compromising the quality and functionality when time is against us.”

In the world of the website BCM is a name most would recognize. They have gathered a few accolades over the years, Zahir declares “We’ve been recognized for various web awards and have been showcased on many leading websites and link libraries over the year including NetDiver, American Design Awards etc. The greatest recognition and appreciation though is always a satisfied client.”

The duo, virtually free of their previous lives, have very few thoughts about a recall to the 9 to 5 grind. Zahir claims to have only looked forward to each day. He says “Since we started BCM, we’ve never looked back and I think that’s what drives us, taking nothing and making it into something. I don’t think looking back at a job is an option; we’re going to concentrate on looking forward…”

He also replied to our comparison of Entrepreneurship being a roller coaster ride while explaining his grip on it saying “Well let’s just say we’ve got a really good set of seatbelts! J Its not always how you plan it but then that’s the thrill, molding yourself and your company to be the best it can at each point is our driving force. Burges and I bring to the table different levels of skillsets and project understanding, couple that with a talented team and you’ve got one thing… drive”

Zahir has a few aims for 2010 and they are - “To do more fascinating work, to bring in clients who aren’t afraid to break conventions, further master the technologies we deal in and to deliver projects that make us and our team proud.”

As an entrepreneur of both renown and expertise, Zahir sportingly gave us a few pointers. He did not mince his words and stated “It’s always a cliché to say believe in your dreams and they will come through. My advice is, don’t just believe in them, have the goods to back them up, don’t hang in there when life throws you a curveball, instead hit that ball out of the park and go that extra mile. It’s a fine mixture of hardwork, talent and luck. Hardwork can be achieved through dedication, talent needs to be constantly sharpened and luck favors the brave so withstand those obstacles and learn from your mistakes. Take a tip from the competition and be a better version of yourself.”

Yourstory thanks Zahir for sharing his story with our readers and looks forward to seeing many more of their creations on the web.


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