Tina Garg - Great Companies Women Entrepreneur Award Winner 2020
Communication (Agency CEO)
My company, Pink Lemonade is a full-service, Integrated Marketing & Communications agency headquartered in Bangalore, India. We come with years of expertise and capabilities to deliver services in the areas of Content, Design, Web, Video, and Digital. Our strength lies in the ability to combine strong strategic thinking with refreshing and relevant communication that addresses tangible business problems.
What challenges have you overcome to reach where you are now
Hiring and building a team: In the initial stages, building the right team was a challenge. As a new entity, we were not so well known, so people were skeptical of joining us. I came up with a unique idea to manage this well before it became a trend. We took returning mothers back to work and trained them to perform better than the ones with a longer tenure. We also opened Pink Lemonade’s doors to people with the right attitude even if the aptitude was not 100%. The attitude fit was enough for people to chase the right dream and work their way to a long association with us. The diversity ratio was fantastic — 85% women. People came in from finance, marketing, and engineering backgrounds. They had fire in their belly and a will to prove they could do it. This approach has met with immense success, and we follow it to this day — it’s helped me build a truly sound team. Retaining talent: Another stumbling block is the fact that in the advertising industry, the norm is to have a career of 1-2 years and move out of the agency. Having groomed rich talent, this often becomes a growth deterrent. After a tenure of 1-2 years, millennials look to move to less-compelling work environments that allow them to ‘chill’ while working. At Pink Lemonade, we recognize the immense learning these years allow them and encourage them to stay for better projects and quality of work. Their career development is a top priority, and we work towards improving their skills so that they grow within the system. Each team member undergoes 5 days of training in a year and is sponsored to attend conferences, events, online courses, instructor-led sessions and so on. In addition, I have put together a battery of benefits and activities that make our people truly enjoy a culture of learning, enrichment - hobby classes, a Pink Holiday (where 2 team members per month are selected at random for a company-sponsored dinner or retail therapy), learning series, on-the-house snacks, monthly head and shoulder massage, and team outings! As a result of these initiatives, at least 20% of our people have been with us for over 3 years. Funding: For an entrepreneur, working capital and cash flows are critical. Because we were bootstrapped, at Pink Lemonade, our growth was fueled from our own revenues each year, while ensuring the cash flows did not suffer. To hedge our bets, we took ok work from organizations of all sizes. While the smaller ones paid us on time, the larger MNCs had fixed payment cycles. This ensured there was constant flow of capital for our running needs. Further, we did not limit our work to any sector, instead, working with clients from across industries and this opened the doors to more opportunities for us.. Another way I ensured continuous cash flow was by expanding our range of services. We didn’t limit ourselves to just one thing. That’s why, today, we offer everything from internal communication campaigns and talent branding to website development collateral and brand strategy to video production and digital marketing. Thanks to our extensive experience and range of offerings, we’re currently one of the only in-house end-to-end service agencies in Bangalore. Markets: Tapping into new markets is a continuous challenge that I face head-on with a multi-pronged approach - networking, PR, new media, email marketing, SEO, and using my personal network. I ensure media visibility by participating in and speaking at relevant events, where I also build relationships with other industry leaders and potential clients. In addition, speaking at these events and mentoring youngsters in the field gives me an opportunity to share my knowledge and give back to the industry. This, backed by our solid digital marketing strategy, PR, referral and relationship marketing, helps spread the word about our services and keeps work coming! Process and workflow efficiency: At one point in my journey, I realized that the work we were doing was plentiful but not bringing us the revenue we would have wanted it to. Often, long hours were being spent in completing work that would not bring us the highest revenue. Also in the creative process, we often lost time in creating what we felt was the best output for a client, going beyond what they had asked us to do. The only way I could minimize such loss of time, avoid delays, and ensure project profitability was by putting together a workflow system that allowed us to log in time spent on jobs and track the outcomes of the same. Using technology and workflows, we were able to measure the profitable accounts, types of jobs that brought in more revenue, as well as see which industries brought us maximum business. This data allows us to plan for better outcomes today, with higher revenue.
What message you want to give for other aspiring women entrepreneurs
One of the best pieces of advice I have received is that, it’s important to keep calm and carry on. As women, most of us are naturally shy or unsure of staying there in the midst of adversity or a life situation. But just staying in the game is critical. Marriage and childbirth are life’s phases that can continue alongside work. They need not become your alternative career. I would also like to see more women stepping up, asking for leadership roles, and just believing in themselves. Don’t hesitate to take risks. If you have a dream, go all out to make it a reality! But when you do start your journey, please do it with the right market information. In my journey, I learnt that 99% is data and 1% is inspiration. Women have a strong gut feel. While you bank on that, always back up a business idea with good data. Do a little market research, understand your audience clearly and definitely check out the competition. Once you do all that, find what your uniqueness in the market will be - it will help you position your business for success better.
To what do you attribute your success
A strong desire to build a robust organization in the truest sense. There are many boxes I ticked to ensure we scale and grow with thoroughness and completeness. People: For a company to truly develop into a thriving force, it’s people need to be invested in. Investing earnestly in the development of my people was something we built early on. From on-the-job-training to online courses, instructor-led learning, and vastly challenging work opportunities, everyone at Pink Lemonade is taught various aspects of work and continuously groomed for more in their role. We formally increase the number of days of training per employee per year and follow it with a rigor. Process: Another factor in the success of my organization has been the focus on optimized processes and ever-improving workflows. I have leveraged multiple tools and platforms to ensure work becomes increasingly efficient. These include: Monday.com for project management and progress tracking MakeLemonade, our in-house proprietary platform to track project progress and utilization Pipedrive to track and streamline our sales processes Zoho to track attendance and other important business statistics such as employee productivity, hours on each project, etc. AskNicely for feedback on customer experience A timesheet system and project schedule allocation to identify the sweet spots in PL projects and the loss-making initiatives An incentivization-based sales engine,ensuring our pipeline is constantly healthy and thriving. Diverse portfolio of services: I didn’t want to limit Pink Lemonade to any one area of expertise. Today, we are an integrated marketing agency specializing in visual and written communication across various spectrums. We are well-known for our creative strategies, design specialization, branding, and production activities, and our repertoire boasts corporate identity creation, marketing collateral, social media support, content, brand activation, exhibitions, internal communications, in-house design and web support, videos, and presentations. Can-do attitude. The attitude to always accept a challenge has stood me in good stead. I groom my people to always overcome a hurdle and develop the spirit to do more, learn more and continuously give back while doing so. One of the things that separates a business person from an entrepreneur is this will to give back to the community and the ecosystem. It’s not only about making money but also about how you can truly make a change. And when that is selflessly done, it all circles back in some form of success.
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