Closing down Media Redefined – Why? and What’s next?

Earlier this month, we declared Media Redefined as closed. This post is for those of you who’ve asked me – Why? and What’s next?

What started as a gig in college with 2 friends I made on Twitter, one would have never thought we’d come this far. From bringing on new business on board and delivering value, working with our favorite brands across domains, hiring & nurturing some of the best talent in the social media space, making friends and having so much fun – it was a magical and challenging journey for almost 4 years at Media Redefined.

But, just as they say – All good things come to an end.

I am grateful to a lot of people (I can’t even mention all of them here), but they all know it. Of course, Gaurav and Honey deserve a special mention.

Starting the business out of a garage and bunking college to mark my attendance at work, was not so funny. Deciding to let go the job offer I secured at the college campus placement to become a businessman gives you a high. On that note, if you’re a student and if you are getting carried away by this post, you should read this post.

So, why did we decide to close it?

  1. I stopped seeing longevity in the business. We were clocking similar revenues for the last 2 years and it did not seem to change for good in the near future. The cost of entry to this business was getting lower every year and the ticket value going down. We failed to innovate. Or let’s just say, our innovation didn’t really come out that well.
  2. In India, social media continues to be just the icing on the cake when it comes to marketing, which I was always interested in. There are more talks about integrated social media acts than actual substance – both with brands and agencies.
  3. I wasn’t convinced that I want to be doing something that’s getting monotonous and more often than not, executes in a silo. Integrated marketing, social web innovation, influencer relations, etc. continue to be buzzwords and only a few brands believe wholeheartedly in them. Most brands are afraid to ‘be’ social. Instead, they spend money to ‘do’ social media.
  4. For many, it’s just about publishing content on social networks and sharing weekly / monthly reports on engagement. It’s challenging for a social media agency to showcase the power of social media across all functions – marketing, sales, customer service, segmentation, influencer relations, etc.
  5. We were strong at technology and measurement. That’s when we decided to build a social media analytics product. We released it internally and used it with our clients for quite some time. However, we couldn’t launch it for public yet. Bandwidth, conviction, focus – all of it. For us, it became difficult to ensure profitability in a services business and alongside, ship a product.

What’s next?

I’ve been enjoying unemployment for nearly a month, while speaking with people who’re in the product space to understand the kind of role I would want to take up, next.

This was more like rejuvenation before I get into a new role. I am hopeful that it would be as interesting and challenging enough to keep me happy.

No matter what, I would miss all the fun and learning I had at Media Redefined.

For those of you who’re curious about the assets associated with Media Redefined, we were contacted by a few buyers to buy the name and assets associated with Media Redefined. We decided to go ahead with an offer from a known internet entrepreneur in the U.S. who prefers not to be named as of now. Media Redefined and some of the associated digital assets are now sold. Most physical assets were either given away or retained by us for our personal use.

Update: After exploring & evaluating a few opportunities, I’ve decided to join Zoho.com in a Product / Marketing role. I’ll be helping a team build a social product and shall be telecommuting from Delhi.

 

Dropping out?

Deciding to drop out? Wait!

Deciding to drop out? Wait!

Being one of the first entrepreneurs from a lesser known engineering college, I am often looked up and approached by batchmates and students of subsequent batches for suggestions on whether to join a job (or look for one), start a small web development studio out of home or a shack with a friend, freelance, pursue a post-graduate course, etc.

It’s interesting to know that a lot of folks *wish* to start their own *business*. That does sound great. Especially, if you’re skillful and can write code, there is no dearth of opportunities on the web to make money. More often than not, you’ll end up making anything over an above 500$ which may be higher than your first salary, in most cases. The pleasures that come associated with it include – working from home/ cafe, deciding on your own timings, no one to boss you around, et al. Not long before all this may appear to be a bubble if you’re good *only* at writing code and not essentially great at doing a *business*. I have examples with me. That is *just* one reason for boredom or moving on from doing freelance work or putting up a startup. There may be many more. Having said that, the journey is no doubt challenging and at the same time, interesting for those who wish to take a plunge.

We can talk endlessly about it. However, I came across a case when a student from my alma mater (someone who would be a couple of years junior to me) got in touch and asked, “I have been picking up web projects online and doing well. I now have 2 of my friends working with me. Should I drop out to continue my business? Does this degree make sense?”.

At the offset, I was surprised by the passion he had. I could understand the fun he had making couple of hundred dollars every month, being an under graduate. The curse he had for the institute that would not allow him to ignore classes and ensure the bare minimum attendance. He had his head held high for he had won several hearts within and outside the college.

Coming back to his question. It took me back in time when I had a fairly similar landscape. Just that I was not trying to build a career into programming the web, but documenting/ publishing about it. I had secured a job out of campus placements into one of the great IT companies. I had no plans to be an entrepreneur for the first 2 years of my engineering course. Even after I was doing fairly good at freelancing while being a sophomore, I *never* thought of dropping out. Ever. Despite of running for life and air when it came to attending classes and touching the mandatory attendance benchmarks, I was keen at making sure that I see through the 4 years of an engineering course. Not that I complain, even today.

I may not be using most of what I was taught/ delivered at the engineering college. But it does give me a lot of confidence to do something on my own. It gives a good feeling when you shape your thoughts into ideas that work. A professional course teaches you how to give that shape. It trains you well enough to address people and more importantly, understand them. It helps you speak in public, if and when needed. More than anything else, it does make sense when you meet someone and he/ she happens to ask you about your academic background. You may not be a graduate from a tier 1 institute, but having pursued a course is no less. In most ways, better than NOT completing it.

In one of the most saddening incidents of my life, I had to drop out of a premier institute, on the grounds of low attendance. It was then, that I could have dropped out and started to do something else. However, I realized early (with the help of some close friends, family and the internet) that there is no shortcut and it makes no sense. No wonder that the entire decision of graduating as an engineer from a different college was kindled by a character in my ex-college. I *did* drop out but then decided to complete the degree. Today, when I look back, I feel glad for what I did.

A lot of people suggest that one should chance upon entrepreneurship after having worked for a few years in an organization. Yeah, that does make sense. But to me, that’s not necessary. A lot of things can be learnt online or otherwise in books. Self confidence is built and basics are often taught at under-graduate levels, across the world. Which to me, are mandatory. Anything beyond, you may choose to learn on your own, at a large organization or at a startup. Vivek Wadhwa, a Visiting Scholar at School of Information, UC-Berkeley wrote a couple of interesting posts last year on the idea of dropping out. I feel you *must* read them, if you’re a student. One of them was – You’re probably not Mark Zukerberg, so stay in school!

Just to close, life is not as short (as they say), so why rush into things? In case you’re not the next Mark Zukerberg but end up having a good education, you’ll not hurt many people. At least not your family, before anyone else.

Reconsider your decision. Cheers! Tangy Tuesday Post

Image credits: Matt Niemi

 

Paul Graham’s essay on Ramen Profitable

This being the last week on the year 2011, I am pretty much in a GTD mode – read most of what my “Instapaper” account and Google reader have as notes and bookmarked items; publish more than half a dozen half baked posts across 3 blogs; list down the 3 resolutions (I am closing in on 2, almost, already), etc.

While I was reading an interesting essay by Paul Graham, I was deeply touched by these 2 insights;

At any given time there tends to be one problem that’s the most urgent for a startup. This is what you think about as you fall asleep at night and when you take a shower in the morning. And when you start raising money, that becomes the problem you think about. You only take one shower in the morning, and if you’re thinking about investors during it, then you’re not thinking about the product.

Whereas if you can choose when you raise money, you can pick a time when you’re not in the middle of something else, and you can probably also insist that the round close fast. You may even be able to avoid having the round occupy your thoughts, if you don’t care whether it closes.

Is there a downside to ramen profitability? Probably the biggest danger is that it might turn you into a consulting firm. Startups have to be product companies, in the sense of making a single thing that everyone uses. The defining quality of startups is that they grow fast, and consulting just can’t scale the way a product can. But it’s pretty easy to make $3000 a month consulting; in fact, that would be a low rate for contract programming. So there could be a temptation to slide into consulting, and telling yourselves you’re a ramen profitable startup, when in fact you’re not a startup at all.

If you’re a startupper or wish to be one, I am sure this would strike some chords. Do shout back!

 

Tonight is the night!

boats

We shall row it, on and on.

It’s 3 am and folks at MediaRedefined are working. A couple of them are out to get some food. No we’re not at Kargil but at our cozy office in Vaishali. Warm jackets, half a dozen notebooks, A4 sheets, music, foot on table and redness in most eyes – guys are striving hard to get the project ready for the release.

A dozen pet bottles, empty packs of wafers died out midway before they reached the trash can in the kitchen. It’s chaos! But just as I believe, the best of the works one can ever do, is done under chaos. No ease or peace can get you productivity as compared to the one achieved when the deadlines make a whistling sound in your ears and pass by.

Tonight is one such night. Yesterday was another one. May be I shall talk about it later sometime.

We’ve read, heard and said countless number of times that life is tough. Yes it is, but there is a toughness you might just love to see in your team. No, this was not to prove that we have one of the toughest teams in the world at work. But yes, there aren’t many I have seen like this before!

It’s been more than 12 hours since folks haven’t moved their asses off the chairs which I feel have lived their age. It’s time to get new chairs for the office. Before that, we need a new office in the first place.

Amongst a dozen people I answered and justified (or atleast, tried to) my choice of being a businessman is that you see and mould things in your own good way and not just wait for them to happen. I know it’s easier said than done but I still love the fact. I am sure you getting it. Did I mention by now that I ain’t high? Trust me, if at all I am, it’s due to the lack of sleep and nothing else.

Way to go!

Image credits: Alphageek