There is no better teacher than adversity, I realised, when my mother was struck by a paralytic attack en route to Agra by train. In the few minutes of panic that we had before we alighted at the upcoming halt, Delhi, we had to pick a hospital to rush her to. This choice was critical and we went with the recommendation of Max, which specializes in neurological treatment.
Max was perceivably a ‘niche’ hospital compared to bigger establishments such as Apollo in the capital city. In fact, I even thought it might be the size of a local clinic, but I was reassured of its capabilities right from entering it, when the doctor told me the situation was under control. It was only later that I pleasantly realised that this ‘niche’ institution was ‘big’ on credibility and focused on neurology – exactly what we needed.
In the week when I spent sitting outside the ICU watching my mother recuperate, adversity gave me the invaluable insight that with the right focus, any business could specialize in a field and yet grow big, in size and credibility. Thereafter, I realigned my focus on the business of employee engagement, while taking ‘events’ as new starting points to grow further.
I took ‘niche’ out of my vocabulary, and followed three core thoughts to drive myself and engage4more forward:
1. Focus and patience
We often over-estimate focus and underestimate the power of patience while the truth is, both are required in equal measure for success. While being focused on your goal is necessary, waiting and persisting in the face of obstacles is vital too. There are people who spend much efforts in boring for water, but then there are others who persist and hit gold, diamonds or oil! Higher value is always a product of focus and persistence.
2. Deep-diving can be rewarding
I say this both literally and metaphorically. In scuba-diving, it takes a long, deep dive into the depths of the ocean to truly find fascinating corals and marine life – none of which is visible from above the surface of the water. The ‘horizontal view’ needs preparation and reaps rewards.
In the case of employee engagement, we started off with events, but dived deep to hit upon the idea of televising them, and then turning them into large scale IPs which corporate world participates across the nation. We started with one IP 6 years ago and now we have 4 IPs engaging over 25 Lakhs corporate employees around the year. We have ventured in business of content and recently launched our tech business in mobile applications. As we are going deep further with focus, there has been a horizontal expansion via new businesses. We found treasure after persistence.
3.Give value, not just a product or service
In the long run, it’s not what you sell but value and value alone that will make you stay relevant to your customers, regardless of sector or competitors. If one is emotionally committed to bring value to the table, one will need to experiment, collaborate, innovate constantly. And in the process, the unexpected will bring even more value. At engage4more, we started with offerings only with events and now we list 36 offerings options across events, content and technology.
How it all started?
My journey began when I realised I wasn’t cut for Engineering and was interested in the colleges’ cultural festivals circuit. I left no college fest unattended and participated across the whole of North India. I created my college’s first ever inter-University fest that continues till date. On the way, I overcame challenges such as getting sponsorships ranging from Rs 5,000 to a lakh, getting students to participate in my college at a fee to spice up the fest, struggling with losses, even dealing with extortionists.
My passion soon transformed into my profession as after my MBA, I landed a job with the Times of India and got promoted consistently while witnessing coming alive over 500 corporate events and also mega ones such as Filmfare awards, Femina Miss India and more. That said, it was my experience of engaging with an entire metro city in my next job at Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon that truly drove me further.
I have learnt that events aren’t just about one day, it’s what goes in the weeks preceding them that brings value to all participants. The SCMM for instance isn’t just about running – it’s about health, fitness, charity, corporate engagement, anti-smoking, social issues and much more! Events create powerful memories and change people.
In 2010, I started engage4more with a single-minded focus of being an employee engagement company, a space several event companies had not explored. I had a one-point agenda of making it the world’s biggest. Today, as we serve over 250 large corporates and more than 25 lakh of their employees, I have achieved my goal but there’s still room for a deeper dive – we dream of making ourselves a listed entity in another three years.
Look beyond the niche to grow further, after all the world is too huge to stay small.