The world needs more people like Ramesh Srivats. The man himself might take a witty jab at the statement but it’s true. Srivats is perhaps reason why some people log onto Twitter. So if you don’t know him yet, follow this handle. Srivats is an armchair thinker, excessive drinker, occasional writer who wants to be lighter. No, really! In his spare time, Srivats runs TenTenTen, a company that creates web and mobile apps that help cool brands connect with cool customers. YourStory talks to Srivats about his funny bone, advertising and ofcourse Twitter. Excerpts.
YS: Tell us about yourself. Why TenTenTen?
RS: All my professional life was in advertising, though "professional" is a loose way of describing it. And I loved it. But, a few years back, I realized that ad agencies, at least in India, not only have no clue about digital, but also show no signs of figuring it out in the near future. While, on the other hand, digital agencies didn't seem to understand brands very well. I therefore saw an opportunity to create something. I then got the most important thing out of the way — the name and logo. After that it was just a matter of sorting out the minor details like what exactly my company would do, and stuff like that.
YS: What is your source of creativity? Do you possess an extra gland secreting all inspiration?
RS: Actually, I just make bizarre connections, between completely disparate things. I think my brain is just wired in a weird way. And this weirdness has been carefully nourished with essential nutrients like whisky and beer.
YS: Were you the "that funny man" from long or only after you started blogging and tweeting?
RS: I was majorly into JAM during my IIT days, which is really long ago. And yes, people did laugh at my jokes. In fact, the more senior I became in advertising, the more number of people laughed at my jokes. But I think, the fact that most of the people who used to laugh at my jokes were reporting to me, was just a coincidence.
YS: How is Ramesh Srivats, the boss?
RS: I see myself as a boss, or rather a kind of super-hero — intelligent, wise, fair, just, ambitious, passionate, decisive, demanding and fun. But I have a feeling that's all in my head. My employees probably think I'm a guy who just seems to be hanging around, doing nothing particularly useful, and occasionally interfering in their work.
YS: Are you a celebrity in your family as well?
RS: Not really. My wife has no clue what I'm up to, while for my son, I'm actually a big source of embarrassment, because I make these lame jokes that his friends see. But as we move towards my parents, and then my uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., this ‘celebrity’ quotient goes up, possible because of carefully disseminated information.
YS: What are your views on social media?
RS: I think it's fantastic. It has changed the way we make friends, interact with friends, consume information and relate to the world. For me, social networks are not just ‘new media’. They are the new life.
YS: What motivates you at TenTenTen?
RS: Seriously, I think we do very cool things. I don't think any company has married creativity and technology the way we have. And I am convinced that in today's world, brands are built by actions, not words. So, we have really good ideas, and it's immense fun bringing those ideas to life. But the biggest motivation, is our opinion that we're doing something new and right.
YS: How big is your team and what kind of a culture do you have?
RS: We are about 12 people. Everything is open, loose and free. We function like a creative set-up. But we are also very very obsessive in the way we create products. We keep exploring new technologies, build stuff that plans for success, and like solving problems. But at our core, we are about ideas. For me, ideas don't come from platforms and technologies and devices. They come from understanding people, and their needs & opportunities.
YS: Which is your favourite book? Movie? Cuisine?
RS: Oh, I read like crazy. But my all-time favourite author is PG Wodehouse. I also worship Isaac Asimov & Douglas Adams. Movies, I'm not very discerning. I tend to like any movie I see, unless it is really really boring. Cuisine - The liquids of Scotland.
YS: The right thing to ask you would be "Where do you see yourself in the next 5 minutes " but is there a vision with which you're working? An ambition?
RS: Yes yes, my life is well planned out. First - make TenTenTen big and therefore become rich. Then start a religion. I've already started calling myself Put-a-party Sri Sri Srivats Baba, so the process is underway.