Communicate 2 is a digital performance marketing firm working with large Enterprise clients from a range of vertical industries including Financial Services, B2B, Publishing, Online Retail and E-commerce.In conversation with YourStory.in, Vivek Bhargava, Managing Director, Communicate 2 tells us all about the venture and his transition from employee to entrepreneur.
So tell us about Communicate 2.
We guide large enterprises in drawing up a blueprint of their digital strategy and its implementation. The blueprint not only covers how the strategy can be leveraged for customer acquisition but also covers information dissemination, understanding consumer trends and lastly building a community of their TG to up-sell and cross-sell.
Briefly tell us about yourself and the founding team.
I graduated from the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics and studied FMB from SP Jain. I have spent more than ten years in digital advertising inIndiaand have traveled to more than forty countries on various consulting and speaking engagements. I started Communicate 2 more than 10 years ago.
I am passionate about sharing knowledge. I have spoken at Ad-tech, SES, SMX, I-com conferences across multiple countries and have taken guest lecturers at several educational institutes including the IITs and IIMs. I am a regular columnist on Clickz and have contributed articles in a variety of publications.
I am the chair of SEMPO India chapter and co-chair for SEMPO Asia-Pacific.
I am a paragliding pilot, have been a state-level table tennis player and was in the college chess and tennis teams. I have always been passionate about technology and advertising; Digital advertising allows me to experience the best of both.
How did the idea to setup Communicate 2 come about?
As the Bhargava Group exports to more than forty countries, I started travelling to Europe and theUSAas I was to attend various trade fairs. One thing that impressed me was the way developed countries used technology to improve advertising effectiveness. I felt this was a big lacuna in the large enterprise sector ofIndia. I setup Communicate 2 with the simple vision of helping Indian enterprises leverage technology to improve their advertising effectiveness; this vision continues to drive us today.
What are the current offerings of Communicate 2 and who are your marquee customers?
Communicate 2 offers digital consultancy as well as standalone services such as SEO, paid search marketing, social media, analytics, display, video content creation, and mobile advertising. Some of our key partners are TCS, DSP Blackrock, HDFC Bank, ICICI Lombard, Cleartrip.com, Newscorp, Mahindra, Essar, Aegon Religare etc
How has the traction been so far? Any case of a happy customer you would like to share?
I have been selling digital since the time one had to convince even large enterprises that they needed a website. Digital has come a long way from receiving residual advertising budgets. Today digital is becoming central to the marketing strategy of most large enterprises. The traction has been amazing the last few years.
There are so many stories I would like to share as we have multiple clients who started their Digital journey with Communicate 2 starting their investment with tens of lakhs and now spend several crores. The key to success in digital is senior management investing time to understand how it works. ICICI Lombard has had tremendous success here because the CMO and Head of Digital used to spend 5 hours with us every month.
Tell us a little bit more about your GAP (Google Ad Words Professionals) team?
We were the first company inIndiato be become a Google Analytics Certified Partner. Although we have a large team of GAP professionals, it is no longer a differentiation. Let me share the experience of our heads of search, which is a differentiation rather difficult to replicate.
Our head of paid search Ronny Raichura has more than 7 years experience inUK. He has worked for 2 of the best Paid Search Technology companies in the world, Marin Software and Kenshoo. He was accountable for several accounts that spent excess of USD 2 million per month.
Our head of Strategy and SEO Benedict Hayes has more than 10 years search experience in theUKmarket. His last stint was in an agency called Tamar, which is the largest SEO firm in theUKfor the BFSI sector. He has worked on SEO for Citibank, Comparethemarket.com, Royal Bank ofScotlandand Lloyds TSB. Some of these clients used to invest GBP 1 million a year on their SEO endeavors.
What is Communicate 2’s revenue model?
Different services of Communicate 2 are charged differently. Example, for SEO we charge a setup fee and a monthly retainer, while in paid search, we charge a percentage of advertising. In consulting we charge a fixed retainer per month, while for video production we charge a lump sum fee for each project.
How do you see the digital marketing space evolving in India and where do you see Communicate 2 three years from now?
Digital marketing used to be about lead generation. I see a clear path where Digital Marketing is becoming the most effective platform to build brands. Earlier, reach was an issue but now when one combines both PCs and mobile devices, digital has twice the reach of television. Secondly, Digital has now acquired the ability to deliver immersive multimedia advertising through both, PC andMobiledevices. As digital allows reaching niche audiences through psycho-graphic profiling, it allows marketers to build brands with their core TG.Communicate 2 started as a performance marketing company. However, it has now become a Digital Consulting firm for the large enterprise sectors inIndia. We see ourselves evolving further to strengthen our expertise in this space. Almost all the large enterprises would need a firm that can help them draw up a Digital Strategy as well as hand hold them through the implementation. Our experience of more than 12 years of working with the largest companies inIndiaallows us to position ourselves perfectly in this space.
How have you been funded to date? Can you share how the funding came about and from whom?
We have two sets of investors, the first set was Enam and Artheon who provided the start-up capital, and thereafter we raised growth capital from a few HNI investors a couple of years ago.
What are the challenges that you faced while setting up Communicate 2? How did you overcome those challenges?
The earliest challenge I remember was adjusting from being a partner in a cushy 50 year old company to becoming an entrepreneur with two people. Those days taught me the art of jugad and made us resilient to survive the dotcom bust. The key to overcome the early challenges was being passionate about what we did, if we did not go home for two days, it was just because we really loved what we did, we still do.
The second phase of challenges was managing the volatile nature of this business. we grew a lot and then the dotcom crash happened, then we focused on the BFSI sector ofIndiaand 2008 happened. The digital guys have been called geniuses, then morons, then geniuses again and morons again. Fortunately, the genius phase is going on, thus, YS is covering us. The key to overcoming this phase was making both customers and employees our focus and always being open to going back to the drawing board. I think an entrepreneur today needs to constantly evolve his business in order to succeed.
How big is the team behind Communicate 2? Give us some info on team composition; number of people, their backgrounds. Are you looking at hiring?
Our team size is about 120 people spread across Mumbai,Delhiand Pune. Digital advertising and Consulting requires a fine balance of functional expertise and ability to solve business challenges, thus our team composition is very versatile. If I were to divide the team into functional expertise, they would fall under paid search, SEO, mobile, social media, video production, etc.
Talent is the spinal cord of our business; I spend almost 50% of my time attracting great talent. The fortunate part of talent is that it is a virtuous cycle. Once you get great people, they attract similar people.
Tell us about your expansion plans.
Digital has finally arrived inIndia, and it has done so in style. We have partners who have increased their expenditure tenfold over the last three years; more than the financial investments, I have seen the biggest growth in the mind space that digital receives today. We have spent more time with senior management of multi-billion USD companies over the last two years as compared to the first ten. We have built a great foundation ready to manage this exponential growth and hope to keep similar growth number the next five years.
Please share any interesting stats around clients, services, responses, etc.
I think a lot of marketers have sold the 1.2 billion story ofIndiaso much that they have started to believe it themselves. Let me share some numbers to dispel this myth. Only 2 million cars are sold in India every year, only 1 million people in India have a declared income of more than Rs 10 lakhs, the total number of PAN cards issued is less than 100 million, only 1/3 rd of them even file returns. Even if one takes only the reach of PC based Internet, most marketers in the BFSI, travel, lifestyle, automotive and education can reach their entire prospective target group. One does not need the Internet to reach 300 million people inIndia. As a marketer today, it is critical to decide the size of the prospective customer base for any product rather than try and build a brand amongst 1.2 billion people.
To know more about Communicate 2, please visit their website - http://www.communicate2.com/
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