Akshaye Madhok, Director of Geek Online Ventures on being an 'interactive' entrepreneur
So, how did 'interactive' entrepreneur Akshaye Madhok manage to start one of India's freshest digital creative agencies after an education in hotel management? We at YourStory spoke to Akshaye recently to find out the answer to this question and also, to get his views on the British Council's Young Interactive Entrepreneur Awards where he was one of the finalists. To know more about the Young Interactive Entrepreneur Awards, visit this page - http://www.britishcouncil.org/india-arts-yie-award.htm. To follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards on Facebook, check out http://www.facebook.com/YCEAwards.Akshaye, if you were asked to tell someone about Geek in about 50 words, what would you say?
Well, Geek is a digital creative agency offering brand-led creative solutions to youth-oriented mass brands in India. We believe in telling compelling stories and creating meaningful conversations on behalf of the brand.
Tell us about your background and how Geek started.
In 2003, I finished my hotel management degree and entered the field of digital advertising. Back than, 'digital' meant websites. There was no social media. Come to think of it, we didn't even do web banners. We simply made websites. At this point, I got the opportunity to work with Nagesh Manay of Opus CDM. We did some great work for clients like 3M, Stanley Boutique, etc. I was with them for about two and a half years and I was actively involved in the planning and development of marketing strategy.
After spending some time at Opus CDM, I worked on a freelance basis for a few years. I worked in partnership with Nadim Malvat who used to be with the packaging division of Acer. This was followed by a six month-stint at Ogilvy. At Ogilvy, I used to work on the WorldSpace Radio account and when I left, the account moved with me. The clients were actually planning to hire me. But I was keen on having my own outfit and hence, I started Interactive Broadcasting in 2007. We worked with WorldSpace, Radio Indigo and Microsoft. By this time, Nadim, who was my partner, got married and went abroad. So, we dissolved the company.
Soon after, I met Mayank Agarwal. Mayank used to work with IBM and together, we ended up starting Geek. Right from the beginning, we were very clear that we would avoid tags like 'digital' and 'interactive'. This was at the end of 2008 and everyone had these words as a part of their names. We wanted a short, snappy name and 'Geek' fitted the bill perfectly.
So, how's Geek doing as a company today?
The going's great. We have two offices, one in Bangalore and the other in Mumbai. We have clients like Durex, Kingfisher, Manipal University, etc (a total of 15). Last year, we clocked in about Rs.80 lakhs in revenue. This year, we expect it to go up to Rs.1.5 crores. Recently, we were awarded the global branding responsibilities for Recruitment Factory. They had come to us for social media strategy. But they didn't have any brand guidelines in place. So, we started from scratch and gave them a logo, tagline, a branding template that can be used globally.
Currently, we do website development, web banners, social media experiences and games. But increasingly, we're moving towards an integrated communications approach. We want to be the first digital agency to go mainstream. Usually, it's the other way round. But as a startup, we are fearless and that's key to victory these days.
How was your experience at the YCE awards?
It was a very enriching experience. A friend told me about the awards. We applied and managed to get through to the finals. It was an extremely well-coordinated setup. The good thing is that the engagement hasn't stopped after the awards. We continue to receive a lot of community updates from them. The awards also opened our eyes to the great talent available in our country.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
I'd advise them to hold on to the control of their organization. If you have an interesting idea, there will be a lot of people interested in buying you out or at least, grab equity. But if you have faith in your concept, you should hold on and you will definitely get to reap the benefits of that decision.
We at YourStory wish the entire team at Geek (http://www.wegeek.biz/) all the very best.
Please do share with us your thoughts and comments about this story. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 14th February 2011 | Bangalore