For most of humanity’s existence, life was simple. Food was grown or gathered by being reliant on the natural ecosystem. Clothes were drawn up and knitted together by hand by harvesting plant or animal sources. Houses were made of wood and stone.
Life is simple today too. In fact, much easier. All our needs and wants are within our grasp provided one has the resources to obtain them. Capitalism and democracy form the twin systems upon which human beings all over the planet base their lives upon. They aren’t perfect. But they’re work better than the others.
Today, people are spoilt for choice, being surrounded by brands, products and service offerings all around them. To compound this, the plethora of information available on people’s smartphones, slated to number more than 800 million by 2022 in India, and the rapid penetration of the internet, is not making things easy for brands and companies to tap into their target audiences and ward off competition from brands operating in the same business segments.
In times like these, an agency, handling multiple clients from multiple business segments ought to strategize and customise their offerings, especially since the lines between content, public relations and digital marketing is increasingly blurring owing to convergence of media forms.
Today’s story on Bangalore Insider is about Storytellers 101 Communications, an agency focused on uplifting their employees’ work-life balance while serving their clients’ communications requirements in multiple ways.
Give a brief info about your startup?
To give you a quick glimpse of our agency – Leon and I began Storytellers 101 Communications three years ago and have successfully managed Public Relations (PR) for multiple clients across different business verticals. Our clients include UNICEF, Aashika Group, Diebold Nixdorf, Chumbak, Marriott Kathmandu, Ambuja Cement Foundation, Toniq Retail Brands, Triton, iFast, Supari Studios, Hardware Renaissance, West Coast Adventures to name a few.
Prior to this we both have collective 30 plus years of experience in the field of PR in both agency and corporate communications roles.
Our main offering to clients is ‘Communications that fits businesses’ and to partner in their business through an effective PR outreach. We offer Media Relations, collaborations, influencer outreach and event suggestions to our clients besides other communication approaches which would enable their business
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
After long hours at work (including commuting time in cities) and no time to pursue other interests, the idea of Storytellers 101 emerged. Leon and I met through a common friend and both connected instantly as they both believe in time being the most important aspect in our life.
Working till late hours, spending hours travelling to office was not letting me spend time with my growing son and left me with no time to pursue my other interests. On the other hand, Leon wanted to continue his music career in the music industry after his successful song ‘Hosanna’ with A R Rahman and exploring different genres and collaborations was getting tough.
Like all business idea germinates from a problem statement, it was these daily concerns that gave birth to the idea of having Storytellers 101 PR, offering employees the elusive work life balance and client refreshing communication solutions from enthused PR professionals.
Storytellers101 offers remote working where it’s employees work from wherever they are (home, cafe, travelling!) and get to spend time not only with their loved ones but also pursue their dreams and passions (besides only work). We started this agency three years ago with no employees and now we have professional PR consultants working for the company from different cities of the country and clients who have put their trust in us and have never been let down!
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I have over 18 years of experience in communications across PR and branding. My key strengths lie in corporate, consumer, finance and technology communications. I have worked in Corporate Communications role with Bharti Airtel and Atos Origin and on the Agency front I have worked with Edelman and Weber Shandwick. All this has given me an exposure with brands like Airtel, Tatas, Diebold Nixdorf, Siemens, Gulf Air, Bajaj Allianz, ICPCI, Bureau Veritas, Unicef, ACF, Marriott, La Celebratio, Zaggle, MoneyGram, GE, Mphasis, Mastek besides others. I hold a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and live in Mumbai. Besides my passion for public relations I work on various social projects involving children.
Leon has over 12 years of experience in public relations and his key strengths lie in retail, luxury-lifestyle, hospitality, fashion and startups. He has worked with Weber Shandwick and People Consulting and collaborated on a consultancy role with Elsol. He was also freelancing a couple of years before Storytellers101 and in all has worked with many brands like Mastek, Gulf Air, Meru Taxis, Times Now, Et Now, Gillette, Pampers, Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Shangri La Global, Temasek Holdings and Etisalat DB, Hidesign, Lacoste, Tresmode, Sula and many more. Besides public relations, Leon actively pursues music and lives in Mumbai. His song Hosana with A R Rahman, his tours with Arijit Singh and now his own band Indiecisive has enabled keep his musical flame alive and thriving.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Though our official registered addressed is that of Mumbai, as we are a remote working set up – our employees can work from wherever they are.
We believe that when you have the freedom to manage you work day to accommodate your personal responsibilities or follow your hobby/ passion you work much better and deliver creatively achieving the oft elusive work – life balance. For brands and businesses who put their faith in us, not only does their work get done in a personalised manner and more effectively; they also become part of a change in the way the PR industry functions. Collectively, we are ushering a change that is needed at this time and age.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
When we began, I have to admit I was more nervous than Leon! He held on strongly and today, nothing seems impossible. Like every business we have had our challengers which we have surmounted and continue to lean in to our professional and personal support system to get over hurdles. And as we work hard every single day, a good night’s sleep is always guaranteed:)
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
I don’t want to sound safe or above everything – but the fact is – we don’t view anyone as competition. This industry has a huge market to get their respective business from. And as we don’t believe in comparisons either , we would like to state that our unique selling proposition is that we bring to life our intent of creating a virtual enterprise of professionals across the country coupled with stringent practices and protocols where clients are offered unique PR solutions befitting their brands in a cost-effective manner.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
We believe in maintaining a healthy balance between work and family and friends. One must make time for some exercise. eat on time and eat healthy. Take breaks (reading a book is mine, it’s that’s simple) and stay focused on the task at hand. Be clear and seek help when stuck. We are aware that without balance it will all go away so we ensure we give enough to our loved ones and our passion which is now a business. Both can and must coexist. Live, laugh, love and give your best every day.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
No we haven’t raised any funding as yet as we were focused on self sustaining . And now that we are, we are focused on our growth to enable more aspects of communications to be a part of our offerings. Will this require us to raise funds? Only time will tell!
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
People think that remote working means chilled out random working, with no accountability or delivery. All this couldn’t be way far off from the truth
Discipline and self monitoring are the key ingredients to make any remote working a success. We don’t hire on a lark. We ask the candidates for written samples, speak to them and meet them (or skype). Once we are comfortable that they understand the seriousness of our operations and have the drive we hire them with a one month probation time built in.
We have processes of client updates, internal team updates and check in through calls that enables all of us to be on the same path of achieving the best that we can for our clients.
What gets you excited about this company?
Storytellers 101 is a specialised communications agency with a network of talented professionals. It is just that we choose to work remotely. This way, we manage to create a perfect work and personal life balance, the result of which is seen in our work and the output we manage to achieve.
Brands are also getting more open to the idea of working with remote working consultants if they see the required passion, dedication and commitment.
All this excites us as we believe this is what is needed today – quality of work and working communications for a brand – not travelling to a workplace and being stressed to not have a life beyond work.
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.
On any given day I get up and spend time with family, breakfast and exercise. Post that it’s getting on with the tasks at hand as I already have that ready the night before and working with the team to achieve our goals as one unit. Dropping/ Picking my son up from school happens in between. Lunch and more work. Some breaks in between to reorganise thoughts and channelise energies to deliver on critical elements. Evening time a walk, catching up with friends followed by school homework and catch up on the dinner table. A quick recap of the day and planning for the next is what ends the day with gratefulness and a prayer to keep walking.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
When we began this journey with a couple of clients, we met our first employee after about a quarter of being in business through our professional network. Though the couple of clients have grown to over current 20 plus clients (over 40 serviced across 3 years), the team now stand at 10 professionals and we are glad that out first recruit is still with us. We met our subsequent joinees through professional and social media networks. We are extremely grateful to our team, the PR fraternity and our personal and professional network which enabled us to get connected with clients and to our esteemed clients who have shown faith in us and have been with us steadfast over the years.
Our goal is to keep up the momentum and build a culture of delivering for brands remotely. We also plan to build our digital, content and internal communications capabilities offering more services to clientele. We remain focused on making this unique model a success and enabling more people and brands to join in on this silent revolution of working remotely and delivering with high professional standards.
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