How it all began...
I found out about Zapr through a dear friend and classmate from business school. We had worked together at a startup straight out of business school. He thought Zapr and I would be an ideal fit for each other. Here we are now, discussing this 5 years later. I guess he was right! Before Zapr, I was working at Times Internet, managing their entire digital mobile business including - TOI app, ET app, MensXP, etc. across the country.
I came on board with Zapr for the following reasons:
The product and the solutions that Zapr was taking to market intrigued me. They were solving problems for integrated TV & digital planning which was a huge gap in the market at the time, and even now!
Team - I met up with the founders - Sandipan, Deepak & also Bhavna. I realised that they were looking to build a company that would be focussed on solving problems and adding actual value to their clients. Their clarity in vision and goals aligned with mine and it was an easy switch to make.
Building the unbuilt - I wanted to be part of building something from the ground up. Zapr was just starting to take their products to market and it was the perfect opportunity for me. I was able to leverage my skills and see the direct impact of my contribution for the company.
My first project was a long time ago. We were mostly a TV to digital targeting company at that point, suggesting audience segments for brands to target their TG. The campaign was for the launch of the Volkswagen Ameo in the summer of 2016 (June-July). It was a regular banner campaign which was the mainstay of digital advertising at the time. I remember this specifically because I had joined the company in May and had not been able to close a deal in that month. This had caused me a lot of stress and closing this VW campaign was a huge relief. This campaign helped to put the wheels in motion for me and I was able to over achieve my targets in the subsequent months.
I learned a few key lessons while executing this campaign:
Communication is key - Both external & internal communication is important while executing campaigns. In case of any hiccups, all stakeholders need to be informed well in advance to take corrective actions. (Special thanks to Bhavna who has drilled this in me in the last 5 years. Thank you, I’m still working on it!)
Completion of projects - My job wasn’t just bringing in revenue for the company but to ensure that the client was happy. This involved keeping track of the project timelines, raising concerns in case there were hiccups, getting all the paperwork done, etc.
Clients are NOT always right - Clients, like most of us, are humans trying to do the best they can. Sometimes their assumptions can be wrong and as a valued partner, you have to point this out to them. Too many people over commit and under deliver but it's always better to under commit and over deliver.
Mistakes are good - Making mistakes can be the best process for growth if you learn from them.
Dealing with the rush…
The rush of sales has become a part and parcel of my everyday life. I think I would be very lost without this rush in an everyday work environment. The sense of “what's next” fascinates me and keeps me moving forward. Meeting new people and interacting with a wide variety of personalities has always been something that energizes me.
Challenges around work…
Challenges around work have been around educating the clients and agencies. Zapr products have always been ahead of the curve. This requires us, as the revenue team, to educate clients and agencies on the solution and its benefits. Over the last 5 years, we have been able to build 3 different businesses - broadcaster, DMP & convex. All these businesses have been built from scratch, where we took certain solutions to the market which were just mere ideas in the beginning. While this was extremely challenging in itself, looking back at it and knowing I was a part of the building process, gives me immense joy.
Furthermore, we have also had to fight preconceived notions of the media industry and break these assumptions over time. It's a slow and steady process. Being pioneers has its pitfalls :)
What excites me about the job...
I am an extroverted person and love interacting with a variety of people. These interactions help me understand human beings on a deeper level. Sales warrants you to meet a lot of different kinds of people across different designations. This provides me the opportunity to extend outside of my comfort zone of friends & family and get increased exposure in dealing with different types of people.
Additionally, sales enables me to interact with stakeholders across different businesses. Interacting with clients across categories gives me insights into the workings of the category and a vision for the future. I have always been a knowledge enthusiast and sales helps me fulfill that need.
Furthermore, the rush you get when you’re able to solve a client’s challenge and actually impact their business objectives is unlike any other. To be able to see your work impacting the business outcomes for a company in an entirely different sector is rather satisfying.
Siddharth at the Zapr Offsite 2020
What I like about Zapr...
Zapr is unlike any other company I have worked for before. From the products we take to market, to the teams I work with, to my boss, to the company culture - all of these have exceeded my expectations by a huge margin. My earlier experiences have been in much larger, established organizations where the impact of your work is rarely visible in everyday outcomes. You are a small fish in a big pond rather than a decent sized fish in a small pond. You are easily replaceable. At Zapr, I have always felt like a part of a family working together. We are able to pick each other up in bad times, such as the early part of the pandemic. We encourage each other to strive to be the best version of ourselves. There is no office politics that I have been party to during my tenure with the company. It's a place where people are genuinely trying to solve problems. For example, we’ve been able to create a few products based on client challenges and requirements. These products are now a part of our convex offerings but did not exist as offerings earlier. Work like this just makes you feel happy at the end of the day.
The pandemic has been a see-saw year for me like most people around the world. It started with a lot of uncertainty and frustration. It ended with being one of the best years of my life. On a professional front, it started off as a disaster - all our campaigns that had been signed and sealed suddenly were taken away with no new discussions on the horizon. In uncertain times, the first things that take a hit are the marketing budgets. This is my second time dealing with a global issue - first being the 2008 financial crisis. However, unlike the earlier crisis, the pandemic forced people to live in isolation and reflect. This helped me create deeper relationships with my clients & agencies as well as people I work with at Zapr. All that came to fruition towards the end of the year when business started flowing in like usual!
On a personal front, I was a wreck at the beginning of the pandemic. Before the pandemic began, I was spending too much time travelling for work across the length and breadth of the country during the weekdays and spending time recovering on the weekends. The beginning of the lockdown forced me to stay indoors and introspect on how I was leading my life. This was hard, since confronting yourself is something that we all shy away from. However, this was also a period of maximum growth for me personally, where I was able to let go of my bad habits and develop new good ones!
I have had quite a few great moments at Zapr. Most of the offsites have been fantastic. From doing “team building” activities late in the night to waking up early for client calls. The Sri Lanka trip just before the pandemic has to be one of the most memorable ones, since there have been no other trips after that. The award ceremony on the second evening was a highlight for me!
Get to know more about our culture here - https://bit.ly/2VBuEk1