Dr. Karthik Nagendra & ThoughtStarters: initiating unparalleled thought leadership strategies since inception


Dr. Karthik Nagendra & ThoughtStarters: initiating unparalleled thought leadership strategies since inception

Karthik Nagendra: Our services lend a competitive edge to our clients boosting their organic and inorganic growth with a suite of effective content marketing strategies. 

India is considered as the second largest online market with 462 million users. With the evolution of the digital ecosystem and the increment in the internet world, people are more exposed to content either through apps or web. Content is considered as the essential pillar of the online world. It is efficacious in creating a memorable and meaningful story among the audience. Content is King, but a brand deserves the throne only when it can compete in the market with creativity and hard work.  Though content marketing has been in the industry for a very long time, the modernized industry has made it compulsory for business owners to initiate something unique every time. As a result, there are implications every content marketing expert should consider.

Since consumer behaviour and market change faster, the brands will have to constantly measure and transform themselves to cope with the ever-changing consumer interests and increasing competition. With a vision to support people in exploring new avenues to create and market content and keeping viewers engaged, Karthik Nagendra laid the foundation of ThoughtStarters in 2016. It is Asia’s First Thought Leadership Marketing Company. The firm is supporting from a small firm to large enterprises across the IT, ITeS, Consulting, Healthcare & Engineering sectors to position themselves as thought leaders in the market. Its services encompass content strategy, research & intelligence, content writing & digital marketing.

Brains behind the Brand

Dr. Karthik Nagendra is the founder and CEO of the company. He has 15 years of expertise in strategy, marketing, operations, and HR. He is well-known for creating numerous award-winning programs for leading brands like MeritTrac, Wipro Technologies, Accenture and more. During the course, he has worked closely with leading universities, industry bodies, analysts and research firms globally and acted as a catalyst in providing best practices and insights to customers across sectors. He has authored papers & articles on marketing, strategy, gender diversity in international journals & has been a guest speaker at many Ivy League Universities globally. Karthik did bachelor in Computer Science from Bangalore University, MBA in Marketing & Finance from IMI Belgium and Ph.D. in Marketing Management with a focus on thought leadership marketing from UET America.

Here, Karthik gives an insight into his professional career, ThoughtStarters, its offerings and more.

Here are the edited excerpts.

What inspired you to initiate your career in an entrepreneurial path and establish this firm?

Starting something of my own was always on the cards, I had a clear plan in my mind for that. Focus on the thought leadership marketing space actually came into the picture after I spent a few years in the industry. There, I saw a huge gap in the quality of output being delivered by different marketing agencies.

What problem does your company resolve and how it is unique in the Consulting Industry?

We are the only marketing consulting firm in Asia helping companies establish themselves as thought leaders. A lot of other agencies are either restricted to content creation or digital marketing. Additionally, here the key factors, which make us distinct:

  • The research-backed content strategy helps us to understand what kind of content would be better for the client
  • Our team of experienced writers specializing in B2B content creation for CXO audience is something other agencies don’t have.
  • We identify the specific platforms where this kind of content gets absorbed better
  • We are the only company that can help clients in collaborating with leading universities globally
  • We create co-branded thought leadership content which positions the clients in a different league vis-a-vis competition 

Throw some light on your team and the current business model.

Our team comprises 12 experts across content strategy, content design & content marketing. They all carry an average experience of 12+ years in the B2B space.

We work with clients both on a retainer as well as project basis. In a retainer model, we take total ownership across content strategy, content design & content marketing aligning. It is close to the client’s business goals and priorities. We act as an extended arm of the organization.

Who are your clients? How do you work on your long-term relationship with your clients?

Our clients include Wipro, Pearson, Microland, and HCL among other leading IT brands. We typically begin an engagement on a pilot project basis & slowly mine the account to move them to a retainer model.

Tell me about when you failed. How did you overcome?

At the initial phase of ThoughtStarters, we didn’t receive a positive response from companies. We had a dependency on some large accounts but midway there was a change in their internal strategies & as a result of it our contracts were shelved. It put a lot of pressure on company financials. We then worked out a revised strategy to have a balanced prospect mix to ensure that dependency wasn’t on some large accounts.

What was your journey like to get where you are?

Thought leadership marketing requires a lot of constant capital flow before you actually start seeing your ROI, it’s not a typical lead generation and closing sales kind of business. Here you have to build a unique point of view, invest for a sustained period and showcase expertise. Making clients understand was challenging. But we ensured that we continued our marketing efforts, ventured into new business verticals, which ensured that we were able to reach where we are today.

Walk through your daily routine

My day starts at 05:00 am with yoga, pranayama & meditation. Then I go for my morning walk. Once back home I spend some time in Worship and prayers. Post that I get some nutritional breakfast & then head to the office. Daily routine in office includes some internal meetings, client meetings & training. After office, in the evening, I spend some time on a few e-learning classes learning new skills, following that spend some time reading, then watching Netflix, followed by dinner & hit the bed by 10:30 pm.

What do you like to do when you are not involved in your business operation?

I love traveling across the world and watching movies. I am also a voracious reader. In addition to that, I am a certified life coach, where I help people unleash their true potential.

What are your forthcoming strategies?

We have a structured focus on clients from Singapore and Europe. We are also working on our product variants, looking to take our business to the SME segment, as we see here a lot of scope for thought leadership marketing. Additionally, we are in the process of developing some first of its kind product offering leveraging AI.

How would you advise the entrepreneurs who want to venture into the same domain in the future?

Be passionate about the business idea for success and do thorough research on the idea, its potential and prepare a good business plan before they can leverage any of the accelerator or incubation networks. A never say die attitude can help one go a long way.

Your favourite quote

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Jedi Master.


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