Manu Srikumar, Denture Capital

An exclusive interview with Manu Srikumar, Hustler at ‘denture Capital’

There is no doubt that startup ecosystem in India is buzzing like never before. Hence, we have seen various initiatives around entrepreneurship being nurtured across the country. Rightly so, these initiatives help both budding and established entrepreneurs to network, exchange thoughts and provide a helping hand to each other. Some of the major startup oriented initiatives are YourStory, NextBigWhat, TechCircle, TiE, The Startup Centre, Startup Saturday etc. The common elements that cuts across these initiatives are events, meetups, online publications, investor meetups etc. Its indeed a crowded space where every initiative is trying its best to build a strong network of entrepreneurs and support them.

Recently, I came across this new initiative called denture Capital floated by Manu Srikumar. I have known Manu for last couple of years. Once over a casual chat on one of the social networks, when he shared the news about him having quit Doctor’s Circle. However, he quickly added that, he would soon return with an exciting project. And weeks after, with no further surprise, it was denture Capital. Unlike other publication outlets, he has taken a very different route by creating short videos, featuring him, where he almost plays the role of a standup comedian, but conveys all recent updates from the entrepreneurship world. Manu through his videos has featured startups, shared updates about funding and lot more about startups in the country. Recently he did a crazy video with Shraddha Sharma, Founder & CEO at YourStory, which can’t be described, but has to be viewed!

Liked the video? Now, let’s move on to know more about denture Capital from the man himself

Explain what is denture Capital in 140 characters! ?

denture Capital is a weekly show on startups. The brain tonic for the upstart!

What is the vision of ‘denture Capital’?

To be the most loved show on startups.

What are three things that an entrepreneur can expect from ‘denture Capital’?

He/she can have a good time and laugh on a Friday evening, get featured if he/she is doing good work and keep updated on things happening around him/her.

How is ‘denture Capital’ differently positioned with respect to other startup/entrepreneurship oriented communities and initiatives?

While startups are different from the corporate, startup media still remains corporatish. We want to present it startupish.

What were your thoughts behind launching a series of video content for entrepreneurship space?

Content consumption patterns are changing. People are watching more and more video. We wanted to do a show around this that people love and look forward to. We also felt our audience will definitely have some takeaways from watching the show.

Tell us something about the jovial tone all ‘denture Capital’ videos are based so far. Will you continue to do so in future? Do you sense a challenge in sustaining this tone for long term?

denture Capital is a refreshing take on startup news and parody. More than jovial, we try to keep it simple and easy to comprehend. In the process, we add a lot of fun. Yes, we will continue the same tone for the show.

We are inherently funny people! I don’t think it will be difficult sustaining the tone.

Was it a conscious choice of not launching a website first? If yes, what’s your strategy behind it?

I think the goal for any company should be to do an MLP, a Minimum Lovable Product. Work on things that are your core. Though a website is definitely up on the cards, our initial goal was to see if our videos are loved by the audience. Now that we know they are, we will build a website.

Plus, since we are in distributed content, we exist where our audience hangs out. So, our focus will be more on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other forms of new media.

What’s the thought behind a lowercase ‘d’ and an uppercase ‘C’ in ‘denture Capital’?

To get people thinking! Look, we made you think because we did this differently.

Are you keen on hiring (or looking for contributors) and expanding the team? If yes, in what profiles?

We look for Hustlers. We believe skills can be taught. We don’t mind hiring Hustlers and then training them on video production, community engagement and other skills that we will need in the future as we grow.

Loved the concept? Go, now and subscribe ‘denture Capital’ on YouTube and don’t miss the next video from them! If you intend to join Manu’s gang and contribute, connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Thank you Manu, for your kind gesture to share details about ‘denture Capital’. I am sure ‘denture Capital’ would do wonders in the weeks to come. All the best!

Jungle Book Movie 2016

10 Key Corporate Lessons from Jungle Book Movie

Is Jungle Book movie just kids’ movie? I thought so before entering the movie hall. But, once I walked out, I realized it had few learning for us adults as well. In fact, I could draw a lot of parallels between jungle situation and corporate environment. In each of the animal characters, I could visualize a type of person we often meet in our daily lives at work.

1) Register the tricks shared by mentors: The Jungle Book movie opens with the race between Bagheera-The Panther and Moghli, which Bagheera wins. Though Moghli is disappointed at losing the race, he ends up learning the key lesson about Dead Trees. Well, many of us would have assumed that shot being ‘just a perfect opening’, while little did we realized in the beginning that this lesson would play a crucial role in the climax of the movie. Moghli remembered the trick and leveraged it to win the battle against Sher Khan. It’s a classic learning for young professionals that they should not only learn the tricks shared by mentors, but also register them firmly in their minds. Who knows, those tricks might come to your rescue a decade later!

2) Show team spirit not only during good times but also during crisis: There were numerous instances in the Jungle Book movie where team spirit was displayed. We all enjoy our happy-go times in corporate celebrating each other’s birthdays, team accomplishments, etc. But, the key lesson the movie tries to drive is to maintain the team spirit even during crisis situations like the Water Truce instance or the final battle against Sher Khan, while all animals got together to fight the beast.

3) Look for the dependable savior around and hold on to them: Let’s admit, it’s tough to find such a mentor in today’s professional life. Yes, but its not impossible! We just have to be careful in evaluating people and not get swayed by the fancy degrees one has, or the higher numerical job experience one flaunts. More than these tangible elements, what we all look for in a dependable savior like Bagheera-The Panther, is a person whom we can trust at all times, and whom we can depend on relevant and valuable advice.

4) Beware of people who might deceive you: Oh, we all would have encountered one such person in our lives like Moghli had with Kaa-The Snake, in the Jungle Book movie. We need to be extra vigilant from such people who possess sharp skills to deceive people in their own game. Though, this is tough to have a skill, we should regularly train ourselves in evaluating people whom we interact and beware from such people.

5) Negotiate smartly: Corporate life is all about negotiations with clients / colleagues / superiors. The Jungle Book movie beautifully exhibited couple of trade-off situations – Baloo-The Bear’s negotiation with Moghli to get him honey from high rocks, King Louie’s negotiation with Moghli to get him Red Flower (fire), Sher Khan’s negotiation to get him Moghli himself. Only one of these three negotiations materialized, while the other two had to meet fatal end. Negotiation is one of the key skills that modern day professionals are expected to have, irrespective of the job profile they are in. We professionals need to gradually inculcate this art and excel at it.

 6) Avoid stereotyping: Just because few men caused fire in the jungle, Sher Khan-The Tiger assumed Moghli’s father also to destroy the jungle. Sher Khan-The Tiger, in the Jungle Book movie attacked Moghli’s father and killed him just as he had stereotype about all human beings. We often stereotype people based on their caste, religion, college etc. Its a great lesson for all of us to avoid stereotyping and judge the situation based on its merit.

7) Capitalize on limited resources: The Jungle Book beautifully showed how Moghli made the most of limited resources that were available to him. Many a times in the corporate we face situations where resources are limited and we have a steep milestone to be achieved. One should not put down the towel citing limited resources as a reason, but should work around them and achieve the end objective.

8) Don’t aspire for false pride: There is a huge difference between aspiring for false pride and working towards success relentlessly. King Louie – The Bandar King in Jungle Book movie aspired to become powerful by claiming the red flower (fire), as he thought it to be the key ingredient of being powerful. Success doesn’t come easily and it definitely doesn’t come from imitating the other’s tricks. Even if you imitate you got to understand the relevance of those tricks in your situations. We need to craft our own success path instead of trying to find shortcuts from other’s success.

9) Avoid over-confidence: Sher Khan-The Tiger in the Jungle Book movie had enormous over confidence about this strength. He thought he would easily win over the young kid. However, the battle was won by the kid. Many of us tend to be over confident once we reach the zenith of our career. This learning mostly applies to all senior leaders who think they have achieved their highest point in the career and can’t be brought down. Well, it’s a big mistake. One should never underestimate the younger generation and their capabilities to surpass us.

10) Show loyalty: In the Jungle Book movie, though Moghli realized that he didn’t belong to the wolves race, he chose to stay with them. As soon as his life was in danger, he could have easily moved to the village and saved his life. But, he chose to fight the situation and always considered himself to be one amongst the other animals in the jungle.  We professionals too need to show our loyalty towards our organizations. However, the key aspect of loyalty is that it should flow from both sides. Like, in the Jungle Book movie, even animals showed love and respect to Moghli. Similarly, in reality organizations need to respect and appreciate their employees and not treat them just as replaceable resources!

Usually in such movies (like Life of Pi), we appreciate the cinematography, while most of us ignore the message that the movie makers are trying to convey. While I was watching the movie, I could relate lot of characters to people around me in corporate and personal situations.

I hope you would find these lessons to be useful. Did you have any other lesson from the movie? Please share in the comments section below.

Key learning from Social Selling book – “You Are The Key”

‘Social Selling’ has been widely quoted in blogposts and industry reports as an emerging sales methodology in the era of social media. It has learnt to be contributed to an organization (especially B2B organizations) substantially. Recently, I had the privilege of receiving a signed copy of ‘You Are The Key’, a book focused on social selling authored by Apurva Chamaria and Gaurav Kakkar (my seniors at HCL Technologies). I found this book genuinely informative. I hereby share some of the key learning I had after reading this book.

What is Social Selling?

Before we look at the learning from the book, lets first understand the term. In the authors’ words – Social Selling is a systematic process that requires the seller to ‘reach’ out to their potential customers on social networks and spend time with them. It means to ‘discover’ and understand the customer better than the competition. This proceeds to ‘engagement’ whereby, applying the expertise from across the organisation, one is meaningfully, adding value to the customer. Finally, to ‘act’ by focusing on the opportunities that create the most profit’. 

Social Selling book

Let’ now go through some of my key learning:

1) Evolution of Sales Methodologies: The first chapter of the book introduces readers to how sales methodologies have evolved over the period of time. The chapter is very detailed with coverage from earliest sales methodologies like ‘barter’ to the latest methodology of ‘social selling’. The chapter covers details about ‘Product Selling’, ‘Persuasive Selling’, ‘Solution Selling’, ‘Value Selling’ etc. It is an informative read for any young professional who has plunged into the sales role. the detailed timeline of various sales methodologies sets a good foundation for readers to understand how sales process has changed with not only the time but also with the change in business ecosystem and technology intervention.

2) Social Selling is different from Social Media Marketing: Many still confuse or use ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ interchangeably. In the context of social media, there is high probability for this confusion to prevail. Hence, it seems authors have been mindful and dedicated couple of pages in the first chapter to clarify the difference between ‘social selling’ and ‘social media marketing’. Quoting verbatim from the book, the differences to be:

a) Social selling is focused on sales professionals, rather than marketing professionals

b) Social selling aims to cultivate one-on-one relationships, rather than broadcast one-to-many messages

c) In traditional business terms, social media marketing efforts supplement the sales process in any organisation. When it comes to social selling, sales and marketing do not work in complimentary terms, but converge in their exercise to generate more awareness, engage with potential customer and convert them to possible leads. 

3) Six Steps of Social Selling Process: It always helps when there is a list of activities for people to understand how far have they progressed in the journey. The book clearly lists the six steps of social selling as – i) Understanding the social platforms and creating your persona, ii) Publishing content to suit your persona, iii) Identifying prospects, iv) Listening, v) Approaching prospects and customers, vi) Engaging prospects and nurturing relationships. Each of this point has been covered in detailed in each chapter of the book.

4) Importance of Personal Brand: Authors highlight that its imperative for sales professionals or for that matter any professional to build their own personal brand. Businesses don’t have between two organizations but because of the trust and respect one professional has for the counterpart. Creating a compelling social media persona, having appropriate social media etiquettes and behaving in a responsible manner on social media channels are basic requisites for a sales professional. Hence, it becomes inevitable for sales professionals to build a strong personal brand on social media channels. According to authors sellers on social media channels could be a The Storyteller or The Confidante or Advisor, depending on the tactics they employ to engage with prospects. The third chapter of the book details out all basic steps that one should consider to build a strong personal brand on key platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

5) Content Curation, Creation and Publishing is key to Social Selling: Given the fact that sales professionals are always on the go and mostly will find paucity of time, it becomes crucial for them to understand the content curation, creation and publishing tactics. Quality of content shared on one’s social media channel is what projects the personal brand. So, sales professionals should follow an effective content strategy aligned to their sales funnel, listen and respond to all conversations that come their way and more importantly should also measure effectiveness of content they share. Chapter 4 of the book talks about do’s and don’ts about content curation/creation/publishing, lists down few tools to curate content (SmartBrief, Hootsuite, Buffer, Alltop etc.) and also lists down few tips to publish content. These tips would help any sales professional for publishing content on any social media channel.

6) Engaging Prospects is crucial for Social Selling success: As it happens in an offline conversation / negotiation, it is imperative for sales professionals to be vocal and engaging on social media channels to arrive at successful end. Facebook lists, Twitter lists, LinkedIn Groups are some of the simple tricks of listening the prospects and engaging with them on regular basis. The conversations should happen on a regular basis. Chapter 7 of the book talks about all tips and details about having an engaging conversation on key social media channels.

7) Enterprise Social Selling Framework is needed for large organizations: This was the fantastic takeaway for me from the book. The framework suggested by authors is very detailed and will be helpful for any large organization who wish to roll out the Social Selling program. The framework consists highlights three key phases of this program – Pre-Launch, Execution and Post-Launch. The key aspect of framework is to have detailed governance mechanisms and adequate change management tactics to be taken care of across all stages of the program. The framework helps one understand the key responsibilities of marketing department, vendors, sales team, sales support etc. The program can’t be successful without the valuable contribution of all stakeholders.

I am sure this book would be of great help for beginners in Social Selling. Go grab your copy now!

Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

It was once again that time of the year when I found myself attending the reputed Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards at The Ritz Carlton, Bangalore. I had fond memories of last year’s event where we won an award too. This time too the panel discussion topics and the eminent speakers list truly motivated me to attend the event. Like always, I love summarizing the learning I had from the event in the interest of the people who couldn’t attend the event for various reasons. Let’s see what were the key points discussed, thought-provoking questions asked by the eminent speakers and how IT Marketing take a leap forward. The key attraction of this year’s event was that most of the speakers spoke candid, unlike other conferences where speakers seem to be speaking from books and not from their heart!

Panel Discussion 1: The iBuyer: How has the buyer journey transformed? – Sunder Sarangan, Lavanya Jayaram, Manideepa Dasgupta, Sumit Virmani

Straightaway this session took everyone by surprise with comments by speakers like – “buying is not always well-researched”, “we buy easily available and what is familiar to us”, “most of our buying is tactical”. Now, these are very bold statements by such senior level marketing experts, while the other marketing folks would argue that buying is a well-researched process with these 8/10 steps. Another key discussion that occurred was about relevance of Sales and how can marketing equip sales in this technology dominated era. Some of the key learning were – a) Sales definitely is relevant and they need to have more intellectual conversations with the prospects, b) Sales should be able to engage with the prospective buyer community online, c) Marketing should enables Sales regularly with right content at right place and at right time, d) Content should highlight simple business benefits, e) Employees should be encouraged and leveraged to evangelize about the organization, f) Key skills preferred in marketers include storytelling, automation tool expertise, analytics, and g) Human connect doesn’t go away. So, no matter how much technology may dominate marketing, at the end of the day, human-to-human connect is very much required for positive results.

ITSMA Research Presentation by Julie Schwartz

Julie presented the research findings from the research that ITSMA conducted amongst 426 respondents from mid to large size organizations from seven countries (US, UK, France, India, Australia etc.). 50% of respondents were IT buyers, while the rest were functional buyers. The key findings were:

  1. More than 50% of buying happens offline
  2. Top sources of information in IT Marketing are consultants, advisors, peers, subject matter experts
  3. While human interaction dominates in the initial stages of buying process, social media dominates in the later stages of buying process
  4. More number of marketing channels are referred to today in a buying process than they were a decade ago
  5. It’s an era of Omnichannel marketing
  6. Centralized marketing is needed

Panel Discussion 2: Should Sports be in Your Marketing Plan? – Apurva Chamaria, Poornima Couto, Vishal Jhunjhunwala

This was a very interesting panel discussion and very lively right from the beginning with all three speakers playing videos of their sports engagements. The panel discussion mainly hovered around the necessity, importance, pros for a brand to consider sports marketing as a key element of their marketing strategy. Some of the key learning from this session were:

  1. 70% sport engagements happens on social media
  2. TCS Marathon initiatives are mainly focused around employees in case of India. Employee engagement is the core objective
  3. Brands can leverage sports to address C-suite, engage employees, influence top funnel, create business impact
  4. It’s buyers market in sports domain, as every element of sports is available for sale – be it sports kits, apparels etc.
  5. Sports followers generally have a positive tendency for brands that endorse their favourite sports teams
  6. The focus of sports marketing should be on larger story and a brand should carefully distance itself from a particular team’s performance
  7. Sponsoring an individual players is very risky
  8. A brand could derisk by associating with a sports team that has rich cultural heritage as HCL has with Manchester United

Panel Discussion 3: Customer Communities: Creating and Engaging a Powerful Group – Jyotsna Makkar, Pratap TP, Anand Narayanan, Adarsh Pete

Building and nurturing communities has been a focus for both B2C and B2B brands. This panel discussed on the challenges of setting up a community, nurturing it and ensuring continuous engagement. All panelists agreed to the successful mantra of running a community to be Recruit, Rewards and Recognize. Some of the other key learning from the session were:

  1. Communities could be of three types. The ones build around – a) shared values, b) individual interests or c) charismatic figures
  2. Content and engagement strategy are the key aspects of a successful community
  3. Communities are fluid today because of digital platforms
  4. It is imperative that people seek recognition in the community
  5. Community managers should try to learn from one community and apply the learning to other
  6. It is helpful if brands have a full-time community manager
  7. Regular investments to promote community are required
  8. Communities don’t necessarily stay connected on digital platforms, but the members also love to stay connected in offline world
  9. Some of the key success metrics of running a community are – a) Revenues/Leads/Sales (Primary objective), b) Less number of opt-outs

Panel 4: How can Marketers increase Business Value – Indraneel Ganguli, Srihari Palangala, Sunder MadakShira

This was my favourite panel and all the panelists were really candid. Marketing is always questioned in the organization for the budgets they ask. Marketers are always under pressure to justify the ROI and to earn a face in the organization. The panelists clearly called out few issues and few areas of improvement for the marketers:

  1. Marketers should shift their focus from conversations to conversions in IT Marketing and all other sorts of marketing
  2. Marketers have to talk the language of accountability
  3. Marketers should possess an ability to build next 30% business
  4. Marketing needs to promise and deliver

Panel 5: Marketing in the Age of Digitisation – Suresh Thomas, Sarang Panchal

Each of the eminent panelists of this sessions had decades of experience in marketing research. They discussed on how technological developments are affecting the marketing research practices. They highlighted that the current young generation would not appreciate responding to lengthy questionnaires. Hence, it was essential for brands to identify engaging, fun-oriented research techniques to understand the consumer psyche. They suggested brands to go for implicit research techniques that leveraged technology.

My key three takeaways from the entire day were:

  1. Not only IT Marketing but any kind of marketing, needs to work closely with Sales and Product  Development teams. Marketing should take more ownership to build their relevance in the organization, rather than just focus on campaigns and engagement
  2. Leverage technology to understand customer psyche through implicit research techniques
  3. It’s time for brands to focus on omnichannel marketing

So, it was a great day of learning from the veterans.

It was also a great day for HCL Technologies (my organization) from two aspects:

  1. Apurva Chamaria, Global Head for Branding and Digital along with Gaurav Kakkar launched their book titled, ‘You Are The Key”. Social Selling is a key phenomenon which is emerging especially in the field of IT Marketing. The book promises to equip marketers with Social Selling skills.

You Are The Key book launch at The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

2. We won three awards at the event in these categories – Customer Acquisition (#UnitedByHCL), Digital Media (#HCLShortCutsToSuccess) and Sustainability and CSR (#AMileForHer). It was a proud moment to receive awards for the work we did throughout the year.

The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

Thank you Paul Writer team for organizing this fabulous event which was very well organized and well conducted in the end. I am already looking forward for the next edition!