Entrepreneur & Alternative careerists

Suveer Bajaj, Co-founder, FoxyMoron, on Digital Marketing, law, and plans for the future

suveer-bajaj-3Suveer Bajaj pursued LL.B. from the University of Mumbai, batch of 2012. Prior to that, he had pursued his BMS in Marketing. He is the founding partner of FoxyMoron, a Digital Marketing Company, which is mainly functioning from New Delhi and Mumbai. The company has eminent clients like The L’Oreal Group, Bacardi India, Castrol, Fosters, The Cadbury Group, Asian Paints, The World Wide Media Group, AXN India, VIP Industries, Rajasthan Royals, Quikr and has nine offices between New Delhi and Mumbai.

In this interview we speak to him about:

  • The switch from law to marketing
  • Essentials for being a successful marketeer.
  • The mechanism behind the rapid growth of FoxyMoron.

 

What motivated you to pursue law?

Law was always the first option for me from an academic perspective right from the time I was old enough to decide what I wanted to study. It definitely wasn’t a virtue of chance. It was a well-educated decision; one I had actually been looking forward to for quite a while before I actually even started studying law.

 

How would you describe the chronicles of your college life?

I always kept myself active and busy through my college days. I started working literally one week after I got out of school. I actively participated in a number of college activities including the Rotaract club, represented my college in almost every inter-collegiate festival and went on to creating a Model UN session for my college which at the time, was the largest college level MUN in Mumbai. I interned actively through my summers and eventually started FoxyMoron in the summer of 2008 after I completed my second year of degree college. This required me to pull odd hours and double up on both my academic and social life, but I was more than happy to make the sacrifice while in college.

 

Tell us about your experience as a Space Intern of the renowned newspaper Indian Express.

I interned with the Indian Express Group in the summer of 2007, which was my first summer in degree college. I worked under the direct mentorship under the (then) General Manager of Space Marketing, also known as ad sales. I learned the ropes of how ad sales were done and actively worked with all teams to understand how the dynamic of print advertising works with various departments. It was my first formal interaction with sales targets, corporate discounts and the IRS. We whiled away our lunch breaks at the art room watching how tediously the art directors created the lovely print ads we see in newspapers today.

 

What are the essential ingredients to become a successful marketer?

There is an age old saying: Sales and Marketing go hand in hand. Neither comes first and neither comes second. In order to understand the ethos of marketing, I think it is important for a good marketer to step out of the grid and start understanding a client’s business objectives as opposed to restricting his horizon to merely a client’s advertising or communication objectives. A good marketer must know how to ad value to his client to extent that he becomes an integral part of the client’s business and thereby becomes indispensable to the business life cycle. Good marketing is always object oriented and resolution led.

 

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How do you think knowing law benefits an entrepreneur?

Sound legal knowledge can help any person in any walk of life. Especially whilst doing business. For instance, in the case of FoxyMoron, my legal knowledge assisted me in drafting my initial partnership agreement and leave and license agreement. At a very young age, we were in a position to understand business risk and could therefore account for its protection. An understanding of company law ensured that as an organization, we were compliant with the various different aspects of “business.” By virtue of the industry that we function in, an introduction to Intellectual Property Law helped in ensuring that our creatives were royalty-managed. All in all, from a business structuring and risk assessment perspective, understanding the law has really assist in the speedy growth of our organization. It has ensured that our growth has been rapid and we haven’t been slowed down by heavy law firms. It has ensured that we create an environment in which we are well aware of our rights and responsibilities and can function independently as empowered entrepreneurs.

 

How did you choose your co-founder?

The birth of FoxyMoron was a joint decision that we all made collectively. We were all friends well before we started working together.The best advice I can offer people who are looking forward to collaboration with friends is to learn how to keep your personal and professional lives apart. Remember, that by day, you are colleagues, but by night, you are still friends and will still socialize together. Work must never compromise a friendship and neither must a friendship compromise work.

 

What are the prime hurdles that a non-lawyer entrepreneur has to come across?

One of the prime hurdles that a non-lawyer entrepreneur may have to overcome is insolence due to naivety. It is common with most people that do not know the law to be intimidated by it. It is even more common for people who do not know the law to be taken advantage of, whether commercially or in spirit. Business houses have large legal departments and are often represented by big firms across the company. This by itself can be intimidating. Legal understanding helps put entrepreneurs at par with larger organizations in terms of negotiation. It enables entrepreneurs to understand the extents of their rights and therefore enables them (us) to empower themselves.

 

Tell us about your journey with FoxyMoron so far.

Our journey has been fabulous. We started with just the four of us, with four laptops, with no seed capital, in my bed room. It’s been six long and fun years and we have grown to a family of over 200 with nine offices between Bombay and Delhi. We represent some of the country’s biggest consumer brands and are powered by a young, talented, enthusiastic bunch of twenty-something year olds that are determined to change the digital landscape in India. Our work has gotten us recognition across the world and has received several awards and accolades. Business has grown organically; both in size and scale. It has been a joyous journey, salt and peppered with a lot of ups and downs, a lot of hurdles, sacrifices and compromised.

 

What kind of internships would be beneficial for law students who want to pursue entrepreneurship?

For any students who want to pursue entrepreneurship, the best kind of internships are in start-ups. In a start-up, one is made to do literally everything. The exposure that one gains from working in a startup is unmatched. The experience of watching and contributing to the growth, structure and sustainability of a business is what shapes many vocational choices in life. The fact that you will interact personally with top management, the fact that you will do work that isn’t only limited to data entry, the fact that you might have the opportunity to walk into a meeting with a CEO of your client’s company. The journey of a start-up is un-paralleled.

 

How did you get to work with such big brands in just five years of presence?

(FoxyMoron has served imminent clients like The L’Oreal Group, Bacardi India, Castrol, Fosters, The Cadbury Group, Asian Paints, The World Wide Media Group, AXN India, VIP Industries, Rajasthan Royals, Quikr.)

In India, most businesses are relationship based. Two things that we have really managed to do right over the last five years is:
(1) To retain business that we work with year on year. Most of the clients that we work with are happy to have us back renew contracts annually.
(2) Penetrate large business houses. You may start working with one brand from an organization, but it is important to be able to expand horizontally and vertically inside organization. Working with multiple brands from the same group often assists in sound understanding of the industry and hence helps offer an acute domain specialty.

And of course, at the end of the day, your work speaks for itself! Good work manages to get around, get noticed and pick up a few awards along the way.

 

Do you think Delhi is a better place to start-up in comparison to other metropolitans?

At present, my work base is still very much Bombay. We have set up shop in Delhi last year and are, in fact, inaugurating our second office in Delhi today, but we are very much head quartered out of Bombay and I very much still operate of Bombay. The capital, however, presents currently, a wonderful diaspora of opportunity. A lot of brands have now shifted head quarters to Gurgoan and hence from a client opportunity stand point, Delhi (Gurgoan) is gold mine from a business perspective.

 

What are your thoughts about raising capital for FoxyMoron from investors?

FoxyMoron has always been a business that has grown organically year on year. Our limited business understanding has ensured that our business has been in the green since year one itself. Services businesses are usually not capital heavy and hence do not require sizable capital to scale. It has never been our intention to raise capital from investors or therefore, offer equity in exchange for the same. One of the best decisions we made while scaling the business was to retain the independence of running the business as flexibly as we wanted. Allow it to naturally take the shape that it has and come through its journey to reach a point of stability.

 

When you hire people under you, what kind of skills and profile do you look for?

When we hire people, we look for people that have a flair for communication and have a zest to learn. In our line of work, we understand that it is hard to come by people that have relevant work experience and are happy to take on freshers and train them. We have a robust training, learning & development program and have recently appointed a Chief Learning Office (CLO) to help up skill our teams and keep them up to speed. Students can help develop skills by consistently reading good literature, following international advertising and interacting with Digital Media themselves.

 

Does the knowledge of law help to have any edge in marketing?

With digital and content marketing, the understanding of Intellectual Property Law is a necessity. The internet is a cess-pool for infringement of IP. The bridge in terms of Law and Digital Marketing definitely lies in understanding IP law and it’s bearings.

 

Is there scope of legal internships in FoxyMoron?

Yes, we do take on legal interns through the year. Applicants can write to us at [email protected]

 

What is your message for law students who want to pursue entrepreneurship?

Don’t over think things! As lawyers, we are taught to over think everything five times – often, that is the biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make or can get slowed down by. Entrepreneurship is a virtue of gut and instinct. While it is important to be a little thoughtful and conservative in our approach, they only way the ball rolls is when we stop thinking and start doing. Entrepreneurship is about checking things off the to-do list. Not adding more things on.

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