Is it a public relations firm or is it a content agency or is it any run-of-the-mill marketing company? It is neither of them and yet each one of them. Yes, today we are talking about The Wise Idiot, a company formed by a bunch of people who turned their passions into their professions. Isn’t it the best thing to do? It surely is, for hundreds of thousands of people who only dream if they could ever turn their hobbies into their profession.
From helping friends with their tinder profiles to writing statements of purpose, a hobby soon turned into a business when corporates approached them with their business requirements. It is said that talent cannot be hidden from anyone. If one is good, one will shine through, no matter how many layers beneath one is hidden. And The Wise Idiot proves that theory.
In today’s interview we talked with Divyank, the co-founder of The Wise Idiot and we explored the journey of The Wise Idiot into the world of creativity. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Inspiration can strike from anywhere.
The human brain takes multiple cues
Give a brief about your startup
To be honest, The Wise Idiot is just a crazy bunch of people trying to solve the world’s problems through words and designs. I can use all the fancy words I want, calling it Boutique Content Agency, Targeted Corporate Communication or Purpose-driven Marketing Consultancy. But in simple words that my 4-year-old niece understands, we see what people are struggling to say and through writing and designing, we tell stories with purpose.
What made you start up and what problem does it solve?
The Wise Idiot is not a planned or conventional startup in any way. We never thought of a problem first and set out to solve it. For all our lives, my partner and I were writers, designers, strategists and observers of the world around us.
We were writing for ourselves and whoever was interested. Later, corporates started asking us to write content for them. We were designing or celebrating designs for ourselves but one fine day, someone asked us to help them and also paid money. We realised later that businesses actually pay for our hobbies, and a formal business was started.
We were also helping friends and family with Resumes, Statements of Purpose, Presentations, Biodatas and Tinder profiles. As we grew, we added more stuff to this menu of ours.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
As a young kid, I was weird. When the world around me use to sleep, I use to watch Bollywood films on Doordarshan. I listened to stories from everyone, whether my mother or grandmother or the baba-fakirs or my teachers. I simply loved the narration.
Having grown up in 7 different cities, I was always creative. I’d started my first business in the 9th standard, then was the official photoblogger for the Jaipur Literature Festival, moved to Bangalore as the Marketing Head for a startup. When my partner was formalizing the content business, he asked me to join – and I said yes without thinking much.
Throughout the journey, I’ve loved the unconventional paths – from theatres to movies, cricket to photography. Even today, I own an organic ghee brand as well as a stationery line. Life is full of surprises, na?
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are based out of Fort, Mumbai. But is this our right address? I don’t think so.
Fortunately, with the age of the internet, we are everywhere. We have clients from Tier 1 cities like Bangalore and Delhi to Tier to 3 Cities like Jamshedpur and Tharunaalli to international clients from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
But being in Fort has a different charm. We all love the place. The vibes here are amazing; we are in the epicentre of the glorified finance capital of India and have the artistic bylanes of Kala Ghoda on the other side. Getting a studio here is ideal for a company who loves writing financial articles and designs moment marketing posts.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I am not sure if paranoia is what defines a startup founder. However, being a night person, my insomnia though keeps me awake most of the time.
Having said that, running a business is a mental game. You are constantly evolving, solving multiple problems and enjoying the journey. Every day comes with new problems – at a point, we didn’t have enough team members. Today, we don’t have enough space for the people.
Sometimes it is overwhelming but I only got worried when I forget to keep things simple. The moment I realize that I’m unnecessarily complicating things, I get worried about how to make it simple again.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
Sorry, but I didn’t like this question much. For me, everyone is a competitor – because everyone is a storyteller and they can do the job better than me. In fact, this interview is a content piece itself which will compete with the blogs that we write or memes that we publish. It is a subjective business that I am running.
How am I better than them? Not sure if I am better. I am just doing what I love. I am equal to everyone who is loving what they are doing and passionate about what they are doing.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Right now my life is work, work is life. So balancing is tough. But for people who have a life beyond this, it gets extremely tough to manage at times.
The only solution to this is honestly. If you have clarity, you will pick choose to do what is important for you and keep doing that properly. All other distractions – whether hiccups, problems or time wastages are eliminated automatically.
You end up focusing on one thing, achieve it and are happy. I think that’s how a work-life balance can be maintained.
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 are a bootstrapped company. And I’m glad that it is that way right now. Investors approach you for seed funding, but we’ve learnt to say ‘no’ to the tempting offers. External capital, if not taken from a right partner, may end up hampering your vision and ends up making you, your customers, the team as well as the investor unhappy.
Based on our experiences, structure, size and services, at this moment we are not looking for funding. Hence we’re focusing on sustainability – letting the business fund itself. Let’s see if we want to make major changes in the future. Only then would we raise money.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I have absolutely no idea, but a lot of people think I am a very serious person and the other half think I am not serious at all. The ones who see my hard work fail to see the goofiness and vice versa.
In reality, I think I am the best idiot you will meet. It is extremely relaxing to dance in the office in the middle of the day – and create a couple of effective campaigns in the process. As it is said on the website, I am idiotically wise!
What gets you excited about this company?
There is no way that this answer is not biased. The Wise idiot is my child.
But objectively speaking, good work drives us. Each one of us sees himself/herself as an artist. So we’re looking for validation and the next magnum opus. Any work that makes us proud of ourselves, give us creative freedom and place to experiment, we just love those opportunities.
Secondly, I’ve seen many people complain about how boring their work is. Here, there’s almost no monotony. The unique problems for each business and new ways to solve them gives me the ‘kick.’ There was a time I had to hire over 35 writers in a single week to deliver on a thousand-blog activity in the BFSI space. Another time where we helped a Sweden-based healthcare brand enter India. Or helping a brilliant, but depressed engineer get to an Ivy League college.
The constant newness is so 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.
If I answer it accurately, most other entrepreneurs will be judging me.
But I feel an Entrepreneur cannot have a fixed routine. It’s your job to deliver come what may – not stick to the work hours. That being said, I am not the most disciplined person you will meet. The only thing that is a fix for me is to make sure, things are going well. There are many emails, diagrams on the whiteboard, discussions with the team, scolding clients and PJs throughout the day. I wake up and start planning the day accordingly, and sleep when I am sure that things are in order for now.
Despite calling Mumbai my home for 3 years, I haven’t gotten used to the 3 hours I spend travelling to and fro from work. So that part of my day is something that I wish I can make more productive than just podcasts or research.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Our team is full of weird people. A fraud investigator acquiring a business, philosophy majors designing investor decks, an IT professional editing speeches. Everyone here is figuring out life and its purpose.
We put out messages on social media and strangers applied. Those that stuck for more than two weeks became family. It will be too cliched to say this, but there’s so much to explore in each other that every day I think I am meeting my people for the first time. The countless interns that came in are some of the brightest, wittiest and most amazing people I’ve met. I sometimes feel that they’re twice as talented than our leadership!
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