When two young men from Lucknow landed in Chennai a few years ago one of them to study engineering at IIT-Madras, the other to explore business opportunities not in their dreams did they imagine they would end up making ads for a living one day.
“Don’t ask me about the initial days…It took me a long time to adapt to this city’s culture and food habits, ” says Ravi Dixit, who left Lucknow in 2001 after finishing school from City Montessori School (CMS) to join the B.Tech. course at IIT-M. Lucknow was the quintessential land of Nawabs and kebabs. Chennai was intellectual, and about idlis and dosas. As it turned out, the Lucknow lad fell for Chennai and decided to fulfil his life’s dreams there.
After completing his engineering, Dixit was joined by childhood friend and CMS school-mate Vinit Sharma, who landed in the city after his attempts at starting a few businesses failed. The two decided to set up an advertising agency, arranged for seed capital of Rs 10, 000 and started the business on the side. They were sceptical that their families wouldn’t want them to pursue business for all the risks, so they hid their venture from them until early this year.
“In 2007, we decided to set up an ad agency as we saw the need to do something together and could chip in only with creative capital, ” muses Sharma, co-promoter of Ideagram, which in barely two years has notched up accounts like Nippo, Grundfos, Scholl, Orthaheel, Chola MS and Pearl Constructions, among others.
The first work Ideagram bagged involved designing calendars for jewellery chain Vummidi Bangaru Srihari Sons. Though they made only Rs 5, 000 from that order, it instilled confidence in the duo who had no money, no godfather and no experience in the industry. Worse, they weren’t conversant with the local language and the way business was conducted in the city. “We continued to steer the agency amid challenging times, thanks to a few industry mentors and some others who chipped in with funds, ” adds Dixit.
Ideagram is expected to earn Rs 3.75 crore in revenue this financial year on the back of new accounts which include the Nippo TV commercial which comes with the tag, ‘Power nahin hai to kya, Nippo LED Torch to hai’. The ad, which has been on air since November, has won rave reviews, says Dixit.
Both are now trying to leverage their technical competence and tap opportunities in the interactive media segmentthe Internet and multimedia displays. One of the recent assignments using this medium was for Chennai-based bio-medical training company Sachika. Ideagram also added Puducherry Tourism to its kitty recently. “Our endeavour has been to create a long-lasting impression in the minds of our clients. We strive to be an agency that is of, for and by its employees and clients, ” says Dixit, not wanting to dwell too much on the challenge of ‘being small’ when an English-learning institute earlier refused their services on that account. So, competing with established agencies has always been an issue, but not something that could bog them down.