Meeta Malhotra
Former Partner, Ray + Keshavan
Meeta was one of two partners at Ray+Keshavan, India's premium brand and design consultancy, before its acquisition by WPP. During her 15 year stint, Meeta has helped build several successful Indian and global brands across diverse industries. She is now angel investor and mentor to new-generation companies and focuses on the the intersection of brand, technology and design. Meeta brings a practitioner's perspective to startups, having co-founded and exited two companies and now working on her third.

3 essential brand-building mantras for startups

  • Know your customer really well. Think of them as complete people, not just as buyers of what you are selling. Talk to them often. Understand their lives, their needs, their dreams, their fears. Only then will you correctly identify the space you have in their worlds. Typically, you will have a small group of early adopters. Focus on them hard and figure out how to grow from there. Don’t lose whatever it was that brought you initial success. All the marketing dollars in the world can’t buy you that.
  • Your product is not your brand. The entire experience is. Your customer doesn’t care about how many features your platform has or how many items there are on your menu. They care only about how rewarding you make your interaction with them. That experience will determine their image of you. Plot every single point of that interaction and work hard to make sure it is worthwhile for them. This is a continuous process and every member of your team must be part of it.
  • Don’t try and be everything to everyone.  Sometimes it can be tempting to cover all bases, but being generic is death. Spend the time to understand what your customers love about you and what you do better than your competition. Make your message clear, sharp, consistent and easy-to-understand.

 

The 3 most important qualities an entrepreneur should have

  • The ability to think big and execute on the details: One without the other is not of much use.
  • Unstoppability: There will be many tough times. You should be able to dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
  • Extraordinary leadership capabilities: To build an enduring organisation from scratch, you need to inspire people and rally them behind your dream.

 

Why I chose to be part of Kstart

I believe that India will be transformed by this entrepreneurial wave. Not only will it create new business models and employment opportunities, it will set the foundation for a bold, optimistic culture. I am delighted that I am able to contribute in a small way by working with startups.  I have seen that access to the right advice, people and resources at the right time, can mean the difference between success and failure. I completely agree with the Kstart philosophy of putting in one place, all external factors that a young company needs to scale.

 

The one thing I wish I had known when I was 25

Failing soon and fast is the best way to learn

 

Books I would recommend

  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Business Adventures by John Brooks
  • The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
  • Onward by Howard Schulz
  • Makers of Modern India by Ramchandra Guha

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