Meraqi Digital, The Partnership Firm Leads As Marketing Solutions Providers With Co-Founders Ankit Saraf And Snehja Sanganeria In Action
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time”– Steve Jobs
Having mentioned her favorite quote about success, it is only accurate to share how the co-founder of Meraqi Digital, Snehja Sanganeria, feels about success, “Success to me, is providing positive results for our clients. I believe in celebrating small achievements to boost inner motivation. We celebrate small victories like signing on a new client or a successful campaign in our office. The people behind my success are my parents who don’t let me give up, my business partner, and the Meraqi team.”
While the digital channels are still penetrating their way in India, they have become an indispensable part of every business offering help in understanding customers better, being close to them, measuring ROI more effectively, and also providing a competitive advantage. Meraqi, the leading MarTech (Marketing Technology) company has leveraged these powers of digitalization and established partnerships across the industry to help their client’s business get the correct tools in place.
Ankit and Snehja, the co-founders, incepted Meraqi Digital, on 21st July 2016, aiming to exploit a space where data, content, and technology collide to create memorable experiences for people and brands in a leading role as an independent marketing communications consultancy dedicated to delivering on their key purpose i.e., doing what’s right to help their clients win. In an interview for her feature in The CEO Magazine’s “Women Entrepreneurs of The Year 2020” Issue, Snehja reveals parts of her entrepreneurial journey, insights on competition, and challenges amidst COVID-19 along with some inspirational words for aspiring leaders:
The CEO: Have you always been entrepreneurial? When and how did the idea come to set up your own business?
Snehja: Yes, entrepreneurship runs in my blood as my father is a self-made businessman who has always encouraged me to become a businesswoman who also believed in giving back to society. The entrepreneurial bug bit me whilst pursuing higher studies. I enjoyed making strategies and marketing brands and wanted to deliver digital solutions at par with international brands by starting my own brand.
On my return to India, I met Ankit who shared with me regarding the idea of an agency he was planning to set up with a positioning different from others, offering a strong understanding of the digital landscape to clients and aiming to bring about international work culture to the city. After a few discussions, we realized we had the same goal and ambition and started Meraqi. I have never looked back since then.
The CEO: What are the distinct solutions your brand offers and who is your target audience?
Snehja: Simply put, we get people talking about our client’s brand. We believe in a digital-first approach, wherein we design and optimize a brand’s communication across all its digital touchpoints. We help our clientele identify opportunities and make sense of the digital landscape, so that together we can find new ways to reach current and future customers.
Our focus on the customer through our marketing practice and customer insights are the foundation for all our strategies while strong data analysis and strategy form the core of our services. We are dynamic, curious, creative, passionate and growing fast as we continue to deliver our widely used services including strategic consulting, experience design, marketing communications, development and implementation and marketing science.
The CEO: In this journey of being your boss, what have been your make or break moments?
Snehja: I feel every day comes with its own set of challenges when you are running a business. Three months into our business, we delivered a successful social media marketing project pitch for a brand. It turned out to be great as management ended up asking for a presentation for their other projects as well, the catch being we had only 8 hours to work on it as the campaign had to go live in the next 3 days. A huge opportunity, as well as a huge challenge for the agency, was tackled as we worked day and night and delivered it the next day successfully. We eventually became digital marketing partners for that company.
Recently, we faced a similar challenge amidst lockdown while one-third of my team fell ill and I had 5 proposals at hand to be delivered in 4 days. An advice from my father motivated me and along with my team, I reallocated existing resources to meet all demands of existing client work, and worked on the pitches and managed to finish everything in those four days and even converted 3 out of the 5 new proposals, 2 out of those 3 brands being national brands!
The CEO: In this competitive business ecosystem, how do you build a successful customer base?
Snehja: Robust believers of quality over quantity, we at Meraqi, strictly focused on the quality of our work and services from the very inception and have grown with referrals from our existing satisfied clients. I believe our sheer effort to deliver to smaller clients, helping them market themselves and also learning about different industries has helped us to work with clients across various industries and build a strong portfolio, which in turn helped us to bag national brands.
While maintaining quality and understanding the changing requirements of the clients are core to building a successful customer base, we focus on another aspect which is building relations with our customers not only as digital marketers but also in regards with their overall business growth support.
The CEO: 2020 has witnessed a rough start and many derailed businesses, what are the challenges you are facing and how do aim to overcome them?
Snehja: I couldn’t agree more. It has been a rough year with a new set of challenges for every entrepreneur. The challenges include making sure regular salaries for the team, building the revenue back up, managing a team remotely, being patient with clients as they adapt to zoom calls and virtual meetings, balancing work and personal life especially when there is no clear distinction of the same at the present and keeping the morale of the team high.
Although we had lost a few clients in the initial months of the lockdown, we put in extra time in identifying Meraqi’s weaknesses and how we could work on them. Both I and Ankit put together systems and processes in place to keep virtual communications between team members and clients easier. We utilized that time to work on 8 new pitches in 3 months and are grateful to have signed on 70% of those new leads. We had also adapted to the need of the hour and worked on designing COVID signages which every business/building would need to spread awareness about wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing norms etc. We made an official e-commerce website for the same and received a great response for it from all over the country.
These steps have helped us to pull back revenue and even reevaluate our business model. Additionally, we have even done a few online training sessions to help the team learn new tools that can help in a work from home atmosphere and deliver work faster. This has further helped us conduct training sessions with our clients to make their team more familiar and comfortable with online tools, thus helping them in their journey towards digital transformation.
The CEO: How are you strategizing your company’s business model shortly aligning with the latest technological trends?
Snehja: I have spent a good part of my lockdown days attending webinars and online sessions to understand how the marketing and advertising industry will be impacted and what are the changes that will come about. This has helped us to come up with a few ideas to expand our business services aligned with the technological trends. We have explored new online tools and achieved agency partners badges to help old and new clients to make use of those services. We now market ourselves as a MarTech agency.
The CEO: What are the core values you ensure are followed by the team?
Snehja: Teamwork, quality of work, willingness to learn, problem-solving approach, result-oriented, good communication with the client as well as within the team, responsibility, and ownership of work are the core values we work with.
The CEO: What are your thoughts about a diverse workforce in top-level management teams?
Snehja: I robustly believe that diversity is key to the overall structure of an organization. Unlike the traditional model of having top-level managers, there is no hierarchy at Meraqi and no system of sir/ma’am salutations. We do, however, try to keep a diversified team. It helps us to celebrate different cultural aspects and become more flexible as it leads to open-mindedness, innovative idea creation, development of campaigns in different languages easily, and eventually better results.
We have actively tried to maintain a balanced male-female ratio, welcomed people with different sexual orientation to join the company and feel comfortable, offered women period leave every month, allowed open conversations among team members, offered more empathy towards each other and today we can proudly say that all our efforts have reflected positively on our work.
The CEO: What do you believe are the most important things to progress in a leadership position? What drives you?
Snehja: I believe, patience is the buzzword in a leadership position, as a leader should be able to extract the best out of the team, encourage them to give their best and perceive their mistakes more positively to shape a good team that helps in achieving growth and ultimately automates growth. I am trying to follow my father’s footsteps when it comes to being a good leader.
The CEO: Kindly share with our readers, achievements of the leading brand?
Sneha: In four years, Meraqi has witnessed growth from a team of 2 to a team of 25 as we have worked with 300+ clients on 800+ different projects across various industries and managed to achieve revenue of 1.5cr in less than 3 years. We have collaborated with the best local bands as well as national brands and have simultaneously started 2 more verticals – Designs My Slides (a Presentation design company) and selling signages online. We have managed to convert 90% of our pitches to clients.
Some of the achievements of Meraqi Digital over the last four years include being recognized by What’s Up Kolkata as one of the Innovative and Upcoming Startups in Kolkata in 2017, inception of our additional vertical Design My Slides focusing on making a tailor-made presentation for clients, and getting featured as upcoming Entrepreneurs of India.
The CEO: What is your vision for the future of the company?
Snehja: I see Meraqi growing as an agency, helping one brand at a time to align their business goals with changing marketing methods and technology. We are passionate to help brands achieve digital excellence.
What is a message you would like to share with aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Snehja: Believe in yourself and continue learning. Everyone has the potential to make something of themselves and they should follow their heart. If you have an idea, go for it. Don’t think whether the idea is good or bad but take the first step. At the same time, never stop learning. Each day brings with it a new lesson, embrace it. Knowledge is your biggest power.