Having completed almost two decades in marketing, Avinash Chandra decided to strike out on his own. He has served in various capacities at companies like Philips, Basuch & Lomb, Hanes, and Opple- and has led marketing operations for them. So BrandLoom seemed like a natural progression for him. Since 2015, they have been actively working with and establishing brands from across industries- and today, they have emerged as one of India’s most sought-after digital marketing companies. BrandLoom is India’s only ROI-focused agency, and they are proud to count some of the most well-known brands in the world as their clients.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Avinash Chandra: My name is Avinash, and I am the founder & CEO of BrandLoom- one of India’s leading digital marketing companies. We are India’s only ROI-focused agency, and I am proud to lead a team of extremely talented and bright people who are making our clients smile every day. Before I started BrandLoom in 2015, I spent almost twenty years in marketing- working with various companies like Philips, Bausch & Lomb, Hanes, and Opple. From working with the marketing team to leading regional operations- my experience has been invaluable. And it is this experience that gave me the confidence to set out on my own and build something. It’s been a wonderful journey so far, and with BrandLoom- every day I get to learn and do something new. I am happy to be here and share my story with you.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Avinash Chandra: To be honest, I think it is a bit of both. Some people are geared towards service, some have that inherent zeal to do something on their own. And there is no hard and fast rule that if someone has been working for others- he will never get the urge to turn an entrepreneur. However, not everyone can be an entrepreneur, because it really takes guts and confidence in yourself. That is something that cannot be acquired. On the other hand, the confidence that I just referred to that comes when you have had the experience of handling matters on your own; and have been satisfied by the outcome. So I would say more than being born or made, entrepreneurship is a matter of choice. If you choose to better yourself and be your own boss; and are ready to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true- you have the makings of a solid entrepreneur.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Avinash Chandra: I would say that I have been a hard-working one- who has been lucky. In a world where almost 50% of businesses go kaput within the first 5 years- our venture has gone from strength to strength. I won’t say it is by a fluke. A lot of sweat and blood has gone into it. Where I have been lucky is in finding the right people to stand with me. Finding people whose dreams, ideals, and vision align with you is truly a blessing. It is thanks to our efforts as a team that we have managed to grow, expand our business, and even avoided the pandemic blues.
Other than that, I like to think of myself as a go-getter. My professional experience has taught me that nothing happens to you unless you work for it, and this has been my mantra. I work for what I want and seize the opportunities that I can.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Avinash Chandra: BrandLoom is a digital marketing and branding agency. We offer services like SEO, website development, content marketing, video marketing, e-commerce optimization, social media marketing, online advertising, and influencer marketing. Apart from that, we also offer a host of branding services like brand positioning, brand identity development, brand designing, and brand consulting.
When we started in 2015, BrandLoom was mostly focused on SEO and content writing. Over the years, as our expertise grew, so did our confidence, and we got the opportunity to branch out into other areas of digital marketing.
Right now, we are expanding our footprints in India, and are also set to debut in New York and London. The pandemic has proved that location is never a factor when it comes to accessing opportunities- and we are eager to grab them.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Avinash Chandra: The first thing an entrepreneur must assume when starting a business is that things are not going to go according to plan. They must be prepared to change their tactics and approach based on the demands of the situation. You see, real life comes with a host of unforeseen variables which we can never account for when we start. The theoretical knowledge that we start off with will always be inadequate- so every entrepreneur must be ready to unlearn and re-learn when they start off.
The second thing they must prepare for is a failure. It is inevitable. Not everything will work out. Your start may be a flop, or some projects may land with a thud. The important thing is to make room for them, learn from them and move on.
Last but not least- an entrepreneur should be prepared for conflict within the team. Not everyone’s visions will align with them, and they will have to compromise on many things. So, if you are starting off- be ready for change.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Avinash Chandra: I won’t say I paid dearly for it, but I can say that things were not what I expected them to be. When I started on my own, I was confident that the clients that I used to serve in my position with a different company will follow me. Not all of them did. The ones who did= took off within the first few months. Despite having experience in my field, I was probably too optimistic that life was going to be a smooth sail. While we didn’t “pay dearly”- we certainly got a jolt.
When I look back, I think it was a blessing in disguise. When things did not go my way, it forced me to shed my complacence and get going. If I hadn’t got that wake-up call, I probably wouldn’t have taken the initiative in a lot of things. So whatever happened- I don’t regret it.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Avinash Chandra: That would be “Give yourself the space to make mistakes”. Mistakes are a part of life- and they are inevitable. You will fail in things from time to time- and that is okay. Because if you don’t give yourself that space, you will make rash, impulsive, reactive decisions that you will regret later.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Avinash Chandra: The worst advice I have received is someone telling me “Just do what you planned to do. Everything else will fall into place.” It doesn’t work like that. Time has taught me- plans are never air-tight and reality rarely obeys those plans. I had to deviate from my plans, make adjustments and even take complete detours in some matters- and that was the right thing to do. Had I stuck stubbornly to what I planned to do- I would have HUGE regrets to live with.
The learning that I want to share with others is – find the people who are RIGHT for YOU. They may not be the best in the conventional sense- but they should be the ones whose vision aligns with you, whose values match yours, and who are ready to work with you towards that common vision. No matter how good someone is, if your values are incompatible- they are not the right fit for your company. They cannot contribute meaningfully in the long run, and your growth will be stalled as a result.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Avinash Chandra: I think the most important change that COVID-19 has brought is that now, entrepreneurs HAVE to assume that they will have to move online. It is inevitable. A grounds-only business is no longer viable. So if you are planning to start a business in this post-pandemic world- your online presence should be an important part of your plans.
Not only that, entrepreneurs now have to take into account that the way people work has changed forever. They have to offer people the option of working from home. Otherwise, they will lose out on talent- and also actively fan employee dissatisfaction. So, be prepared for a hybrid team at least, and allocate your resources accordingly before you open shop.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that the customer still remains the king- and your business revolves around them. You have to ensure customer satisfaction and find innovative ways to engage them. Technological progress has made it possible for us to keep in touch with our customers and serve them across channels- and we should leverage these channels to the maximum to ensure that our customers stay satisfied.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Avinash Chandra: One of the biggest myths about entrepreneurship is that “go with your gut feeling.” This one refuses to go away because movies and stories seem to glorify these “gut feelings” with fictional, feel-good accounts. Reality is very different.
No. You should never just rely on your hunches or feelings. Make data-backed decisions. Study the market, study the trends, study customer behavior. What are the numbers, facts, and figures saying? They should be influencing your decisions, rather than gut feelings. Humans are prone to making mistakes, and our own prejudices and flaws dictate our feelings. A business cannot be run based on feelings.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Avinash Chandra: Some traits that I think are valuable for entrepreneurs are: courage, solid ethics, passion, easy-going nature, and enthusiasm for learning. You will need these because whether as clients or employees- you will be dealing with actual people. And these will help them a better communicator. As for learning- well, when you develop your expertise, you grow more confident and can serve everyone around you better.
As for assumptions- I like to think that there are no assumptions that an entrepreneur should hold on to. Rather, they should be challenging and questioning their assumptions constantly. Only by answering their assumptions honestly and factually can they grow.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Avinash Chandra: Challenges are a given in any entrepreneur’s journey. One thing I would suggest for them is to get used to public speaking. If needed, take classes. Becoming a good communicator and having the confidence to make your point in front of people is a MUST HAVE skill for an entrepreneur.
While there are many books or movies that they can look at – there are a couple I have found really helpful:
- Books- Whatcha gonna do with that duck? By Seth Godin
- Grit: The power of passion & perseverance By Angela Duckworth
- Movies- Wall Street, Moneyball, The Big Short
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Avinash Chandra: Honestly, I think I am right where I want to be. But if I hadn’t been an entrepreneur- I would have continued with marketing, which remains my first love.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Avinash Chandra: That’s a tricky one. But let’s take the bait- I think it should be Harriet Tubman. She has lived an extraordinary life and continues to be an inspiration for the entire world. The odds that she overcame were unthinkable- and boy did she set an example. For a woman of color- a former slave- life made the obstacles extra high, but she sailed through it with elan. If you ask me- and I am sure millions will agree- Mount Rushmore will be honored to have her.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Avinash Chandra for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Avinash Chandra or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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