From Marketing and Communications Fraternity to the Director of The Marcom Avenue. The journey of Divanshi Gupta

1. Hi Divanshi, welcome to the interview session of Anamitra’s Blog. To start with, we would request you to tell us a few lines about yourself.

Divanshi Gupta is a young, far-sighted and zealous entrepreneur, who has taken up the leadership position of the Director at The Marcom Avenue. She has been working for the Marketing and Communications Fraternity for 8+ years and her experience in curating marketing strategies has helped brands bring meaningful experiences to life. Her motto to work with the brand as a growth partner and not just an agency has helped numerous brands in creating real value – whether it be leads, revenue, loyalty, or capitalization.

Q2. How did you get the idea of starting The Marcom Avenue?

Well, starting something of my own has always driven me. I have always believed in “If you have a dream, don’t just sit there. Gather the courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.” I did the same when I started The Marcom Avenue.

The idea of starting this organization was not new to me as I was a part of the media & marketing world for some time, but experiencing the changing trends of the industry and the thought of introducing new ones in the market inspired me to have my own integrated marketing agency.

Q3. Please tell us more about your journey of The Marcom Avenue from the beginning till now?

We started with providing digital marketing services but our experience in the industry helped us realize that today is the time of integrated marketing solution as brands want one agency to handle end to end online and offline marketing to ensure same brand theme, communication and brand tonality. Also the brands save cost, resources and manpower by doing the same. Hence we expanded to have a specialized and experienced team for integrated marketing and its various aspects. Last year The need from various cities mainly Bombay and Bangalore got us to expand to those regions last year in India.

Q4. What challenges did you face as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

As a woman entrepreneur, I have not been very fortunate to have perfect or well-trained staff. I have faced my set of left-right and centers. I have faced troubles of being a female boss. Honestly, I have not been taken seriously and not respected because of my gender but it never made me give up my goals. Their behavior encouraged me to be better and be an achiever.

About solving the challenges I was very true to myself and our brand. I dedicatedly worked day and night creating and building the brand and serving our clients. Some of the remarks that were straight out-right. I handled with great calmness. My work and dedication to the company objective did the rest. I believe Gender doesn’t make a difference to achieving the goal the mindset does.

Q5. What is the USP for The Marcom Avenue?

The major USP of The Marcom Avenue is that it is an integrated marketing agency that offers end-to-end marketing services (both offline and online) to its esteemed clients. To establish and elevate the positioning of the brands that we work for, we analyse every aspect of the brand, work closely with the brand’s team to understand their goal and align the creative processes accordingly.

Q6. Name some of your success stories.

We have a trained team of professionals who thrive every day to solve problems and help businesses grow. We function not just as an agency but like a partner to our clients. Over the past years, we have gained deep expertise in 27 industries ranging from real estate, travel, hospitality, e-commerce, fashion, technology, education, food & beverages and many other industries. We have worked with some of the best brands and helped them build their brand identity. Our clientele includes Mahindra World City, Ambience Group, Sobha, Nestle, OYO, Sarovar Portico, Vertel Digital, DLF and many more. Some of the foreign clientele includes Queens of India(Bali), EADA University( Spain), ImpulseRadar (Sweden), Technostruct(California), TastyOOS( UAE) and many more.

Q7. What are your plans for The Marcom Avenue for the next 5 years?

Today, consumers understand on-the-face ads and so brands try to avoid them. With the increasing demand for creativity in every communication that goes out from a brand, media agencies are found to be in a fix and fight and are struggling through a competitive environment. The emergence and growth of big data, greater need for customization, latest technology, machine learning has lead to changing and growing customer/brand demands. Thus, these factors have forced the advertising sector to re-look at the existing model and develop innovative ideas for clients and consumers.

Nowadays, customers want specialists that drive strong, personalised and data-driven communication. My plan for The Marcom Avenue is to establish ourselves amongst the leading integrated marketing service providers in the country by curating more audience-specific strategies, developing content that is trendy, relatable and engaging for the customers.

Q8. Do you encourage other women entrepreneurs who make similar ventures? What tips do you have for them?

Women have been long undermined when it comes to entrepreneurship. But no more, I stand by every woman who is standing up to achieve her dreams. In my opinion, women’s contribution in the Indian start-up community is still to rise as they are yet to realise their full potential. Irrespective of gender bias, there are various challenges that a woman needs to overcome such as mustering up her confidence, fighting family paradoxes and whatnot.

I would like to advise every woman to believe in their dreams if they want to make it a reality. Be it your parents or your spouse you should have the willpower and the ability to convince them so that they should be part of your happiness, struggles and offer you seamless support and encouragement at every phase of your life.

I would also like to suggest some tips like:

  • Get feedback to elevate your performance.
  • Do not stop learning ever.
  • Build strong corporate connections
  • Be confident while making decisions
  • Failure is a part of success.

From Corporate to Entrepreneur The exclusive tale of GoStops by Pallavi Agarwal

1. Hi Pallavi, welcome to the interview session of Anamitra’s Blog. To start with, we would request you to tell us a few lines about yourself.

I am the Co-Founder and CEO of goStops; one of India’s largest premium chain of youth hostels. With an intense passion for making social spaces for the youth, I opened the first goStops hostel in Varanasi. Since then, goStops has enlarged its presence to thirteen hostels all across India.  In 2003, I graduated in economics from Kamla Nehru college Delhi University and In 2004 I began my career as a consultant with ‘The Smart Cube’, learning Industrial and monetary services.

I did my Master’s program from an International Management Institute in 2007. I had worked with many reputed companies like Tata Capital as a sales manager in Rural Financial Marketing, Millward Brown as an account manager and Quantum Consumer Solutions as a senior manager.

After having years of wealthy expertise in MNCs, I founded goStops in 2014 with the vision of making social areas for the youth. Since then I am managing goStops like my child. Besides being the boss-lady, I am a mommy to 3 dogs and 4 cats. I am also fond of music and have a special place in my heart for old-Hindi songs.

2. What motivated you to start your company?

The idea of goStops took form when I along with my husband was backpacking across Europe, back in 2012. I was fascinated by the hostel culture there and wondered why a similar model didn’t exist in India for travelers who were looking for premium quality social accommodations at an affordable price.

In the Indian short-stay accommodation market, there was a void in quality-assured stays in the budget range of INR 400-800 per night. Such accommodations were mostly poorly maintained and were unpredictable in terms of quality and experience. In addition to this, there was no accommodation brand that was youth-friendly and which exclusively catered to their needs and aspirations in terms of quality, design, experience and budget. This youth population is 370 million strong. It is growing fast and is very aspirational in terms of lifestyle. We saw a clear white-space in the market. We spotted this problem and have been trying to solve this ever since the inception of the first goStops hostel in Varanasi.

3. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?

We don’t see anyone as our direct competitor as our business model is quite unique. goStops is a full-stack youth hostel company. We lease, manage, franchise real estate assets, which we design, transform, market, sell, and operate as youth hostels in locations where the youth travels for business or leisure. 

4. What is your USP?

Our hostels are designed exclusively for the young population, who are looking for quality stays at affordable prices, especially youngsters in the 18-30 years age group.  We want to cater to the aspirational lifestyle needs of the youth and keeping this in mind. We have designed the entire hostel experience around it. Hostels are hubs for socializing with travelers from all parts of the country and the world. One gets exposed to new nationalities, cultures, languages, and lifestyles. New bonds and friendships are born and one can meet people from all walks of life. Hence, one is bound to connect with like-minded individuals at a hostel. This is an experience that most young Indians aspire for and this is where goStops comes into picture, as a youth desired hotel brand that focuses on their aspirations, where travelers could be co-living and co-working.

We have CCTV cameras installed in all the alleys, common spaces and outdoor area of the hostels. There is a 24×7 security guard on-duty at all our hostels that ensure the safety of all our guests. Every guest has a spacious locker available (included in basic facilities) to keep his or her valuables safely.

5. As a woman entrepreneur, you must have had to overcome challenges. Please tell us about them?

The most difficult challenge was to maintain the quality, design and experience of the properties while scaling up to new locations. We overcame this challenge by using technological and creative solutions, with the help of a team that understood our vision and was involved with us since the inception. 

We also didn’t pay much attention to branding/marketing due to which we might have lost some growth opportunities, which could have been utilized to the advantage of the brand to make it popular among our target audience. In order to overcome this, we have created a strong team of   talented individuals who can push the brand forward.

6. Narrate some of your success stories.

Our ability to run goStops profitably as a bootstrapped organization for 5 years is the most interesting success story for us. These 5 years taught us how to run a business effectively without needing any external sources of funding and turned us into thoughtful and mindful investors of our limited funds. 

7. What plans do you have to scale your business operations?

We are planning to expand our presence across the country by doubling our bed capacity within the next 12 months. We are also planning to utilize recently raised funds to enhance our product offerings through investments in technology & training, add new revenue streams, strengthen our marketing and build a team to handle the next phase of growth. goStops is planning to cover all the metro cities in the next 12 months along with expanding our presence in North and West India including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Goa, and Jammu & Kashmir.

8. Your advice to those who wish to be an entrepreneur?

Strive on diligently. Consistent focus and dedication can overpower everything else even talent.