Being interested and curious about the world is an essential prerequisite to be happy and cheerful about life, for it offers one the opportunity to immerse oneself in a pursuit worth immersing oneself in. Which are the things on the planet worth being immersed in? Putting together a list would be downright resourceful, not to mention the time and effort to be spent on thinking about all the worthwhile things to do.
Finding something to do, led the first human being to figure out a better way to mould the rocks around him or her. Materials science has driven humanity on a pursuit like no other, a pursuit whose objective, steadfastly remains the same, to continue ahead, to think and be better, faster and cheaper, depending on the application at hand, be it a flight to Mars or a worthy chariot for the road. Or a majestic structure overlooking the earth in front of it, like a humble warrior fashioned out of the soil that dictated his life.
Scarcely do we think about the real estate adorning our attentions most of the time. All the places we go to, for both personal and professional reasons, seem nothing but a mixture of people and the institutions they represent to serve the duties of, pieces of property serving the purpose of its owners. Bear a thought, for all of history is a tale of people and buildings.
Today, at Bangalore Insider, we spoke to the founders of One Digital, a communications and public relations firm focused on serving the needs of the AEC industry.
Ar. Himani Ahuja– Co- Founder at One Digital
Nishit Gururani– Founder at One Digital
Give a brief info about your start-up?
One Digital is India’s only 360 degree Architectural Communications and Public Relations firm committed to Architects, Interior Designers & allied product brands. With its focus on the built environment – practitioners, designers, clients, brands and the wider community – we contribute to celebrating and acknowledging their visions with brand stories and share it with the world through websites, print, and digital publications, award strategy and speaker events. Founded in the year 2014, One Digital works with eminent Architects and Designers across India helping them with their media management, content curation and project cataloguing. Further, One Digital curates marketing strategy of various Indian and International brands into Kitchens, Wallpapers, Luxury Furniture, Lighting, Workspace Design etc. through PR Initiatives, Store Events and B2B Events with the AEC Industry.
What made you start your start-up and what problem does it solve?
First the problem. With growing number of Architecture and Interior Design firms in India, gone are the times where professional design services were only limited to a few. With high disposable income of the millennials and owning a house being their stable dream, design business has grown exponentially. Thus, it has become indispensable for both designers and product brand to reach out to the masses.
Fortunately, I had an opportunity to work with various B2B Architecture and Design events, where I not only conceptualized but executed marketing strategies in the AEC industry. I realised it was extremely important for design studios to share their work with the masses, as most were exquisite designers but their work went unknown. The disconnect with the masses was not an economical burner for them but loss for the design industry in India. Thus, One Digital was incepted, with servicing design studio with Digital and Communication services. Later, many boutique brands approached due to our in-depth understanding of design as a whole.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
Before starting One Digital, I was the co-founder of Blankspace Design & Consultants LLP, where I curated events like Archworx and Art of Architecture series for Design Fraternity. Prior to Blankspace, I worked with ABEC, which is India’s biggest Exhibition Company, where I primarily worked on B2B Marketing Strategy and Conference Production.
Co-founder of One Digital, Ar. Himani Ahuja is an Architect by education and an Architectural Communications Director by profession. She believes in binding Communications with Architecture. Highly proficient in our respective fields, we both came together as ‘ONE’, thus laying the foundation of this esteemed communications firm.
Where is your start-up based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Initially, the two of us toiled day in and day out in a coworking space but slowly and steadily as we set foot in this domain we got a team on board. Starting with 5 people we set up base in the capital of India, New Delhi. The head office is in Gurugram and in addition to that we have branches in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai.
To start with, Delhi is the biggest commercial centre in North India and is the best brooding centre for start-ups. It is centred with lots of business attributes and accommodates head offices of some of the biggest MNC’s in India. Delhi happens to be the epicentre of major business comparatively better placed to do business in India.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I think there is no bigger paranoia than your startup failing. However, we all need focus on the positive side of the business. Fortunately, we are in an industry where recession or no recession our business shall grow until we prove personalised marketing solutions. Fear of incompetency is something that haunts me while I am off work.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
At present, we do not have any direct competitors who provide holistic solutions for the Architecture and Design domain. However, we mostly compete with bigger PR and Digital Marketing firms whose strength lies in workforce quantum. We respect our competition, and which is better is debatable. However, I believe being a boutique firm allows us to give personalised attention to each client. Further, with our domain specific knowledge of Architecture and Design, content curation & execution plays a decisive role for brands to appoint us as their agency.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
I think my spouse can answer this better (jokingly !). Yes, most service driven startups are engaging and don’t have any definite timeline to work. Honestly, the work-life balance is pretty messed up, I am trying to work on the same, but it’s just that One Digital has consumed me and I am galla about it.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Interestingly, we are a one-of-kind start-up in our domain. I started One Digital with ZERO investment, and we tend to grow in a traditional organic fashion. However, to keep with our startup reputation we have launched few initiatives like Designworx – which hosts educational webinars for Architecture and Design professionals. We would definitely like to discuss investment opportunities for these initiatives which are more volume based.
What is the most important priority for this company?
One Digital’s foremost priority is the successful execution of strategies that are imperative for the brand elevation of our clients. We conceptualize vibrant and dynamic events, enriched with sales and brand orientation. Our events create markets, allowing our clients to make new business connections and augmenting their brand identity efficiently and effectively.
Our culture of connecting and collaborating, creates unusual value to our business around common interests, enhancing our ability to do exactly the same for our client and the organizations we serve.
How do you think this might evolve over the coming months?
Talking of evolution, back in the day being Architect was an uncommon profession, while interior designing was not even explored. No major projects were documented and only a handful of newspapers would carry an article about Architects, Designers, Urban Planners or a landmark building. Today, due to the advent of Digital Media, Architecture Communication and Journalism has evolved considerably. Further Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online portals & journals have become much more accessible and widespread. Hence, communication has become a significant aspect for an Architect/Designer, laying the foundation of an organic exchange of design ideas and theories.
Our evolution over the coming months shall revolve around various launches, conventions, conferences and trade exhibits to synergize knowledge with business.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
The crucial standpoint behind the misconception for this unique PR domain is primarily the dearth of proper understanding about the pursuit. Architectural communications and journalism involves the genesis of path breaking presentation ideas that would create more relatable content for the naïve and the experts. One Digital incorporates a plethoric exchange of architectural viewpoints with designers across the country and the globe.
What gets you excited about this company?
One Digital has its niche into design, which itself is a very creative industry. Helping traditional practices to get digital is quite exciting.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My typical work day starts by cliché – checking WhatsApp and emails. I follow a LIFO – Last in First Out work model, hence I tend to reply to all mails and messages by the time I get ready to work. First half of the day is usually spent in planning business meetings or meeting the clients, while in the second half I attempt to manage the routine office work. To avoid traffic, I always week my meetings in off hours. Late evening is usually spent in the business circles or friends discussing the current markets, new business ideas etc. I sometimes do try to find time for gym workout or a game of badminton. A sit-down dinner with family is an everyday tradition. Post dinner nights are usually spent on working on a new client presentation of listening to books on Audible. Oh, it is also a great source of entertainment during drive to work and back. Yes, the day isn’t that fascinating and perhaps I am a late riser. However, I suppose no entrepreneur is ever satisfied with the number of hours in a day.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Our team is deeply embedded in the variety of marketing services that we serve, bringing both an unusual depth of understanding and real know-how. One Digital is a team of Architects, Designers, PR Professionals and Ex-Googlers serving the ever-growing AEC Industry. We have collaborated (I hate the term hired) the best of individuals in their respective fields after thoroughly interviewing them. Our team’s diverse experience and expertise is our strength to reckon with.