Kiran Kumar: Building assets and providing digital footprints at Incognito Worldwide
Digital marketing, mass outreach, and big analytics is constantly expanding, evolving, and — even with increased competition within the space –, creating enormous opportunities. In order to mine those opportunities, Bruce T. Dugan (an American who arrived in Bangalore from New York in 2012) and Nihanth Kanimalla (from Ballari) were among the co-founders of Incognito Worldwide India Pvt. Ltd. In 2013. Kiran Kumar Ramadurgam joined the team shortly thereafter. Just a few short years later he has become the company's Managing Director.
We caught up with Kiran to talk about what his company does, how he got the initial job — and rose to the position of MD –, lessons learned, mistakes made, and what he sees for the future.
How did you become involved in Incognito Worldwide?
I was working in the marketing department of a local company, when my best friend told me that his younger brother had recently met a foreigner, and after only weeks together they were creating a startup. Then I saw Bruce profiled in a magazine cover article entitled 'Outsource Evangelists'. I sought him out at the local cafe that he frequented, and pitched him on the idea of building a marketing company. He said O.K. So, I quit my job and began working for this startup that I knew nothing about. A few months later he gave me a budget and said 'build a team.'
What are the products and services offered under the organization's hat?
We provide services such as automated tools, branding & design, consulting, online marketing (advertising, SEO, SEM, Social, and Promotions), website development, and technology integration.
As Marketing Manager what was your strategy and goals to build that service.
At first I was focused on Search Engine Optimization, helping clients raise their website visibility in search. Then I began testing strategies with Ads, landing pages, social media, and video marketing, and now we design and manage more integrated marketing plans.
What are the major milestones for the company since founding?
We're still operating and growing 4 years later — when most startups fail in the first 18 months. We've also become stakeholders in several online properties that we've developed, and/or partnered with.
What big projects are coming, or been completed?
We developed and launched https://Ayurveda.online — an eCommerce site with access to 4,000 products from 100 suppliers. We've also further integrated our operations with a Buenos Aires-based software development company (where Bruce also serves as CEO, and Mario Delfino as CTO for both that company and Incognito) that is developing platforms for the publishing, logistics, and cannabis extract industries. We also have several online magazines and resource centers we've partnered with.
Please share your company's Awards & Recognitions, if any.
Our best recognition is a happy clientele, since most of our work comes from referrals. We have been spotlighted though in a few magazines too; profiled as Startup of the Month in August 2014, and Top 5 Social Media Marketing companies in 2015. In a 2018 Bruce was profiled in an issue entitled Top 25 CEO's in India.
What is next for the company in 2018-19?
We'll continue to provide client services, while expanding the success of https://Ayurveda.online and other properties we are stakeholders in, and further integrate operations across projects with Bruce and Mario's i2MEDIALAB in Buenos Aires. Lastly, we hope to modify and launch some of the products of Intechcreative.com, where Bruce is the Managing Partner.
Favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur
Developing my own strategies and implementing them, win or lose.
What piece of advice would you give young enterepreneurs?
Find a successful balance between planning and doing, otherwise you'll strategize yourself out of business. Get things done!
Your take on the Indian Entrepreneurial ecosystem
There was a time when telling your parents you wanted to be an entrepreneur was met with disappointment — "get job at a big company", they'd say. But I see a new enthusiasm the last few years, especially with the young guys just a few years behind me.
What is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?
There is no safety net: success or failure is based on what you produce. The transition from thinking like an employee to thinking like an entrepreneur was also difficult. I'd tell Bruce "I want to hire more people" and he'd say "Great! How are you going to pay for it, what revenues is it going to produce; how will it affect our profit margins vs., the value it will provide?" And I thought, "Wow, this is more complicated than I thought."
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Writing your own story, creating your own destiny and taking responsibility for it.
How did you get promoted to MD?
Bruce once told me that though I was inexperienced, that he could sense my deep desire to become an entrepreneur. So he said "Let's make it happen."
One word that describes you the best