As startup founders, your first aim is to build and grow a profitable business. But industry gurus say that you should spend an equal amount of effort to build an irresistible brand. This is where a majority of entrepreneurs face a roadblock since they don’t have the information, knowledge, experience or connects to help them build a brand.
This can prove costly, since today’s consumers are looking for meaningful relationships with businesses, beyond a compelling product or service offering. They want to connect with the brand story, its ideology, and what it stands for, even if they are satisfied with the quality of the business’s offering. This is validated when you see how some of the most successful businesses don’t market just their products, but their brand.
But isn’t brand building expensive and only meant for multi-million-dollar businesses? Not at all. In fact, it is as important to a new startup that wants to scale up, as it is to a large global enterprise.
With this context, Your Story, in association with Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation Institute, Tamil Nadu (EDII - TN), hosted a masterclass on Branding on June 29, 2019 in Chennai.
The half-day workshop for startups and entrepreneurs helped participants understand the core elements of branding, its importance, the process and how branding can help them in their scaling up journey. The workshop also saw successful entrepreneurs sharing the highs and lows of their entrepreneurial journey, and the lessons the startups could learn from them.
Pratik Shah, Founder and CEO, Specsmakers, shared how Specsmakers started out in 2007 with a single outlet in Chennai’s Anna Nagar, and is now a chain of 225+ stores across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Hyderabad. Talking about how Specsmakers grew to become a well-known brand, he also shared details on how they set up stores based on a budget, and how feedback from shoppers was instrumental in maintaining quality, etc.
SB Srinivasan, Head of Stratergion Consulting and renowned branding expert, led a workshop on the importance of branding. The workshop helped participants understand the specifics of branding with step-by-step details on how startups can build brands. He highlighted how and why branding is essential to secure funding and generate a steady revenue stream. The workshop also explained why startups must invest in technology, outsource the non-essentials, improve marketing and reputation, hire the right people and equip the company to work on auto-pilot mode as they prepare to scale up.
The workshop was followed by a panel discussion in which Sarfaraz Ahamed – MD, LKS Gold House, Balachandar, Founder, Wassup Laundry and Srinivasan shared their branding journeys and learnings. Sarfaraz’s account of how he projected himself as a brand with LKS was appreciated by the audience. He also spoke on the struggles he faced and the strategies he used to maintain the brand value.
The audience also got to hear from two other entrepreneurs, Suhail Sattar - Founder, Basics, and Sameer Bharath Ram, Partner Super Talkies. Suhail’s powerful narrative of how he started off with just one tailoring shop to owning more than 200 stores inspired the audience. This session, like the others, was interactive with the audience asking interesting questions.
The event also saw Additional Director, EDII- TN, R V Shajeevana, talking about EDII’s offerings for startups to cater to their ideation, mentorship, training and funding needs. “In addition to hosting programmes like the Branding Masterclass, we are also planning to start startup hubs across five or six regions in the state under the startup policy. We are working towards enabling access to funds, starting from Rs 1 lakh for studentpreneurship projects, to Rs 50 lakh for startups. In addition, we are looking at setting up a Rs 450 crore venture capital fund. We are also empaneling specialists who can help you with legal and regulatory requirements.” R V Shajeevana also highlighted how the government is working towards extending non-fiscal support to very early stage startups and also shared future programmes and ecosystem support that startups can look forward to in Tamil Nadu.
The masterclass covered various aspects of branding, and also some practical experience of startup branding journeys as shared by entrepreneurs. The participants of the Masterclass shared that the sessions had key learnings, especially for entrepreneurs who are in the early days of their startups journeys, as it had the right mix of theory and practical learnings.
The masterclass was followed by a networking dinner.
Keep watching this space to know about more informative and exciting workshops and partnership initiatives that can help you in your startup journey.