StartupTalky presents Recap'22. This is a series of interviews in which we conduct in-depth discussions with founders & industry leaders to understand their growth in 2022 and their predictions for the future.
In today's digital age, content creation, and brand development are crucial components of marketing and advertising. Content creation aims to create and distribute valuable and engaging content that builds brand awareness, establishes thought leadership, and drives engagement with target audiences. On the other hand, brand creation involves extensive research, strategy development, and the creation of visual and verbal elements that accurately reflect a company's values and mission.
Effective content and brand creation help businesses establish a strong online presence, increase brand recognition, and drive engagement and sales. With the increasing importance of digital marketing, the demand for these services has been growing rapidly.
According to a report by Statista, in 2021, the global advertising industry was estimated to be worth over $600 billion and is expected to continue growing at a moderate to high rate in the coming years.
For this Interview, we invited, Danisha Kohli, Eman Batliwalla, and Aaliya Amrin, Co-founders of By The Gram (BTG) and we talked about the growth, challenges, insights, and future opportunities in the content and advertising industry.
StartupTalky: What service does your company provide? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?
BTG Founders: BTG is a content studio - a unique intersection where creativity meets tech. Production house meets full-service creative agency.
Our vision was to build a company that did not exist yet in a market-ready and yearning for this unique hybrid.
StartupTalky: What new services have been added in the past year? What is/are the USP/s of your service?
BTG Founders: We are venturing into long-format original content with a slate of fresh young adult scripts that are currently being shopped around to platforms and production houses alike. Ultimately we are young people writing stories for young people.
StartupTalky: How has the content and advertising industry changed in recent years, and how has your company adapted to these changes?
BTG Founders: The key is to be constantly evolving and adaptive, never rigid in your services/offerings or even your company culture. The pandemic changed everything about the ad industry today, those that changed with it, were able to last.
StartupTalky: How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the content and advertising industry?
BTG Founders: Read, a lot. Watch, a lot.
StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check the company's growth and performance?
BTG Founders: Growth in company size, client size, project size, and retention of all of the above.
StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges your company faced in the past year and how did you overcome them?
BTG Founders: The past year was neither here nor there with regard to the after-effects of the pandemic. A mix of being back in the office meets remote working and so on and so forth. As a company, we’re full of left brains and right brains trying to work together on projects which often require adequate face-to-face time. Getting back into the groove of a ‘flexible’ in-person company culture was the toughest challenge for most of us.
We remain flexible to those who are not native to Bombay and allow ourselves to pick and choose our in-office days.
StartupTalky: Good service is something everyone is talking about in the service industry. How do you ensure that your clients are happy?
BTG Founders: With the economy bouncing back, the advertising industry will boomerang aggressively. The handbrakes are coming off and brands are re-energized. BTG’s intention in the coming years is to provide future-proofing to clients. Future-proofing includes owning the brand experience and the data.
BTG thrives at the intersection of creativity and tech. Now that more and more
brands are looking to go direct to consumer, the idea is to own the customer relationship and the data that goes with it (especially with a cookie-less future ahead). Through this BTG works to evolve their clients from focusing on transaction and conversion to deeper engagement, and customer loyalty.
StartupTalky: Foreign clients- this is what most service-based companies are looking for. What has been your experience?
BTG Founders: Our biggest USP to date is our ability to produce content of a high caliber globally. Our producers are all over from London and New York to Hong Kong and Dubai. We have a seamless process wherein we are able to shoot for international clients on their home turfs and even shoot for our local clients elsewhere as per their unique requirements.
With trusted A-Teams in place, we have mastered an automotive experience for our clients wherever they are.
StartupTalky: What are the important tools and software you use to run your business smoothly?
BTG Founders: Investing in the right creatives to build out a brand's creative strategy will be instrumental in a world that is no longer ruled by algorithmic targeting. BTG’s goal is to get nifty with the privacy-friendly data available, in order to produce data-informed, clutter-breaking content - all whilst remaining personalized, relevant, and compelling.
BTG plans on investing in AI-powered creative insights to leapfrog our content performance to the next level. AI will dominate when augmented with a human touch. Until today, AI companies and content studios like BTG functioned separately, merging now and again on a token project without any long-term synergy. In the next five years, BTG hopes to bring in-house the technology, and
infuse it into their day-to-day practices. With AI, agencies have an opportunity to advance digital advertising by eliminating guesswork in creativity—constantly learning and optimizing what is truly resonating with consumers. This will be step one in implementing high-end AI innovation and eventually far more exciting adoptions for agencies like BTG in the ad tech space. They recognize the competitive advantage they have, which is to pair the AI with the right human touch, for this to be done effectively and responsibly, human augmentation
must play a critical role.
StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn in the past year and how will these inform your future plans and strategies?
BTG Founders: BTG was founded on the commitment to be 75% diverse and will continue to be that way years down the line. We firmly believe our women's leadership, right from our producers and managers to our cinematographers and designers has been the secret sauce to our global large-scale productions, international presence, and our 16x growth over the last four years.
StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the Customers, service offering, and team base in the future?
BTG Founders: Over the last few years, original content has become the cornerstone of entertainment, from household names to niche businesses - It’s not hard to see why - people crave originality and hate being sold to.
As an agency, BTG has always been content first. With the economy bouncing back, the advertising industry will boomerang aggressively. The handbrakes are
coming off and brands are re-energized. Their primary play is already in motion. Currently, they own the short format space, with an alarming monopoly over all things short form. They have finessed their production prowess and uber-niche offerings. Earlier this year, they ventured into original content and long formats, ranging from their very own slate of eight-episode series, to buying the rights for Hindi adaptions of the best KTV has to offer.
The next two to three years will mean harnessing their existing relationships in entertainment to house our long-format vertical: BTG Films. Their think tanks and writers' rooms are expanding, and over the course of the next five years, they see themselves with a dedicated department for long format and original content wherein we bring the writers, directors, and producers - a triple threat.
StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with another service company founder?
BTG Founders: Too many voices reduce the quality of a conversation and complicate leadership hierarchies impede swift decision-making.
We thank Danisha Kohli, Eman Batliwalla, and Aaliya Amrin for spending their valuable time and sharing their learnings with all of us.