FLIRTING WITH DREAMS

Ashutosh Harbola, CEO, Buzzoka writes how taking his dreams seriously led him on the road to entrepreneurship

06 May, 2019 by ASHUTOSH HARBOLA

One day, I was waiting for a senior leader at the reception of the American Tourister office in Mumbai and in walked Pradanya Popade, Country Head, Media and Communication. We shook hands and proceeded to a nearby conference room to discuss how Buzzoka could integrate into the existing ecosystem for the biggest brand in the luggage segment in India.

In my elevator pitch, I spoke about our 18-month journey of servicing over 100+ brands. To my utter surprise, Pradanya was not convinced with my words and thought I was faking the story. The meeting, however, continued for two more hours and by the end of it, I was able to convince her about the gap that we fill in the Influencer Marketing space and how we became a leader in India. Post my meeting, when I sat back in my cab, on my way to another meeting, I re-analyzed the entire discussion and our entire startup journey came back to my mind.

It was early 2017 and I had just completed seven years in the corporate world. Starting my career as a journalist with the Planman Group to doing some odd jobs in the sales and marketing domain, I had finally discovered my calling when I joined Tangerine Digital as Marketing Lead. Over the next two years, I tasted the blood of a startup and enjoyed every bit of it. In a remarkable turn of events, TO THE NEW Ventures invested in the group and suddenly a 60-people company grew into a 1700+ people company in the next one year. Finally, I was overloaded with a lot of responsibility and life was a roller-coaster ride, where I learnt from every bit of my journey.

In the next two years, I ended up leading an Influencer Marketing vertical for the group called Blogmint and life was too busy to think of anything beyond. But, as time passed, I realized I was happy but not content with what I was doing and after 10-15 days of being completely unaware of what I was doing, I hung up my boots. This was mid-2017 and I was completely clueless about what I was about to do.

After a break of two months, I finally decided to start something in what I knew was a good field – Influencer Marketing - but my vision was to reach millions of people across India.

The idea was powerful and my vibes synced with that of brands and agencies. They latched on to it and the creative layer that Buzzoka introduced in the Influencer Marketing space became a disruptive move. It wasn’t that easy, but not that difficult too. We were always sure about the change that we were bringing in and eventually brands and agencies were realizing the value of it.

In the first month or so, we became profitable and thereafter, the journey continued. Today, Buzzoka is a 100+ rich client organization with over 70% repeat business. We are growing at a 300% rate year-on-year and are considered a disruptive brand in the Influencer Marketing space. Most importantly, it is a team of just 15 people that runs this show. The idea will always be to hire the best people who can align with the vision of the founders; it makes goal achievement easier and more sorted.

I won’t close this chapter by calling it a happy ending. It’s a beautiful beginning, rather, and I am blessed to be able to live this dreamcome-true life.

Yes, I am still flirting with my dreams! I often tease them and they keep on pushing me to climb the next ladder.

Feedback: ashutosh@buzzoka.com Category: Backbeat Volume No: 15 Issue No: 48

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