4 commandments a woman founder should remember to get funds and keep their startup going

Published in The Economic Times, March 03,2018

By Vishakha Singh

I like elephants. A she elephant always leads the herd, no questions asked. But in the world of startups, where sometimes founders are bigger than the idea, the first question that gets asked is: Who are the founders? Fair enough. But what if there is just one founder and that too a woman? A single woman founder is a discussion that dies before it begins. Many a time.

There are two sides to the story — one glorifies the startup w ..




The Next Ten

The Next Ten

In 2004, I was busy strategizing launch of the news channel Times Now, with a working title as PQ.

In 2014, Times Now today is a household name. Television industry went through ups and downs in last tens years, programming evolved, and Times Now made sure that it gained respect in 2014 ensuring that PM designates thought carefully before giving interviews. Media evolved in these years and is evolving faster.  Next ten years will be very different from last ten years. It will not be about television or print or radio or mobile. It would be about the brand and accessibility. I am hoping, it would still be about Times Now, the brand, but not only on cable and satellite, but also on Internet- mobile, laptops, tablets, phablets. It would be about brands and how fast they run to keep pace with the changing consumer.

My Next Ten Gems that would keep the media and advertising industry running would be:

  • Accessibility is the Media. Where I access my content, becomes my media. Be it my Facebook timeline, my mobile apps, newspaper, my car, my whatsapp group, my television etc.
  • Big idea: the big idea would flow in small measures, in forms of stories in our day to day life, and the longer they keep flowing, the bigger that idea would grow. It will not be just a burst of advertising campaign.
  • Communities in communication: media reach will have to address to communities or affinity groups and not just general consumers.
  • Digital is not a medium, but a way of life. It is not to be seen as a media, but how it enables the life and if brand is a part of this enabling journey, communication goal is achieved.
  • Emerging is the new experience when it comes to talent. While sourcing or honing talent, one would not look for experience but for emerging talent. So, if you are not emerging, no matter how old you are, you will be lost.
  • F: Not Fan following but friends: Brand’s love will continue as friends and  not as fans. While friends are about reach-ability, fans cannot reach the celeb i.e. brands. Brands need to build reach-ability with consumers like friends. The closer you are, the better relationship grows.
  • Global is not threatening any more for anyone, it is about the affinity groups across borders.
  • Happy is the new rich. This is my fav as more and more people will spend to get instant happiness than to save to be bank rich. And all those actions from brands that would evoke happiness would be loved.
  • Instant and how: it is all about now. Information now. Transaction now.
  • Judgment: Consumers are not only taking calculated judgment, but also faster judgment. Little knowledge is in abundance: courtesy Google Uncle. So essentially no, ullu banaoing.

Keep emerging!


Written for and published in Impact magazine’s Tenth Anniversary edition

Are you scared of some words?

I am amazed with the energies of SMEs. Limitless. And such outstanding work that one struggles to think why should I classify them as SME. I will call most of them as curators in their respective fields. However, they seem to be wary of the word Brand. They want to build it, they drive all the way for a strategy discussion. And after layers of discussions with various founders, it is becoming clear that Brand is just a word in the dictionary, which is not so friendly. For many, brand building means advertising. For many, Brand is on the list of things to do, but the last thing to do.


Some words are there in our daily lives, but are difficult. They sound unapproachable, they sound esoteric, they sound as if they are in context with the neighbour or even neighbour’s neighbour. ‘Brand’ is one of these set of words. Especially for many start ups and small businesses where the founder is writing the whole story, she finds, ‘Brand’ as a distant relative.  While she knows Brand is an important word for the story, but still it goes on the back burner because there are other, more operational things to attend to, apart from the product.

However, there are three things to remember if you wish to grow:

1. Brand is the story, not just the name. It becomes the product. The product never becomes a brand.

2. Brand is a personality you can carve. Chisel and chisel and it will take a memorable and lasting personality.

3. In initial years you…

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The meaning of brand building

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

It is not about the product that smells like a rose, but if you call a fragrance a rose, you know what the fragrance would smell like. The name Rose has a personality. So wherever it goes, it will carry that personality.

So what is a brand- A name? A Logo? A tagline?

Is it all of the above?

A brand is a name to start with. And that name slowly showcases it’s personality. Sometimes the name is functional- like the service you provide, your brand name may indicate that directly. Sometimes it is not linked with the business. It is just a name. It still has a mission- to be etched in the customers’ mind. A name is just the beginning.

The logo of the brand is like the signature of that personality. It is not critical initially, but it starts seeping into the customer mindset slowly and it does influence the behavior. It could be soft, it could be bold, it could be bright, it could be subtle. Whatever it is, it adds a layer to the personality. It is like an individual’s dressing sense. It is the closest visual-aid for the name of your brand and anything visual sticks in the mind for the longest.

So a brand is a name, a brand has a logo and a brand has a tagline. What is a tagline? It is simply the promise that you make it to your customer. It is the promise of your product, the promise of your service. Do you need a tagline when you are a startup? No, it is not necessary to launch with a tagline. But what you need is to be clear about how you would like your brand to be remembered and this message we call as the communication goal. Tagline of any brand evolves from the brand’s communication goal. The communication goal is never advertised, it is written down for clarity of action and to shape brand’s personality. The credibility and the reputation of the brand are built on the communication goal. And this message caters to:

  • your partners, your vendors
  • your customers
  • your employees
  • your potential investors
  • your media presence- your website, your social media presence
  • and in your advertising, as and when you go ahead with that

Continue reading “The meaning of brand building”

Reinvention is an attitude

Reinvention is an attitude

‘All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India,” Tendulkar said. “I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years”.

I am not a cricket fan and I don’t relate to the fact that people find it a religious act to watch Sachin Tendulkar play. I respect him tremendously for his sportsmanship, and for his childlike-pure attitude towards his profession, and for his humility and for his ability to listen to himself, and for his grit to not succumb under external pressures. Many reasons. One doesn’t need to justify. One just likes Sachin, the personality: Sachin, the brand: Sachin, the God for many.

And he said, ‘my wife and my brother are more emotional, but I am okay.”  This is not a dispassionate statement. This is the strength of the character that is going to reinvent itself. He may not play cricket, but he is confident of a different life. I am in no business to predict what he will do, whether he will endorse brands, whether he will be an active MLA, whether he will be related to cricket. Whatever he chooses, he will be watched. He will be revered. He will be commented upon.  And still he will appear as God, in a different avatar, in due course of time.

Continue reading “Reinvention is an attitude”

THE ABCDE of #ModiSpeaksToArnab

9th May, 2014

When exchange4media invited me to write on this subject, I chose to write from the media industry perspective and not from any political point of view. This is not a piece to understand Modi or what he said, this is on the ABCDE of what this conversation means to our media and entertainment industry.

A: the Arrival

#ModiSpeakstoArnab is good news for Indian news media. Rahul Gandhi’s interview was the landmark interview in news media, but this one marks a respectable position for news, especially television news. One interview, right in the beginning of the season, nearly put a brake in leaders’ march towards toying with media. We didn’t see hard talks, we didn’t see interviews and we couldn’t even hope, forget to see a good debate between two top leaders. And the reasons were nurtured on both sides: the accusation of trivialization by interviewer and the lack of straight answering by interviewee. #ModiSpeakstoArnab takes a landmark position on how both sides will think and behave for the good of newsmaking.

It was evident in Modi’s talk that he and the party took a calculated call for agreeing for this interview. He said, “I agreed to give an interview for answering questions.” And am sure, there is no regret after this one. So Arnab has been able to bring to Indian television a much-needed respect and this is the arrival of high quality interviews. Continue reading “THE ABCDE of #ModiSpeaksToArnab”

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