Five: A journey so long, a journey barely begun.

Five years ago, today, we received our first cheque as Teen Bandar. It was before we had a bank account, before we had an office to work out of, and before we knew where the next five years would take us. Now we know. While the first few years were about laying a foundation and doing good work to prove our abilities, the last couple of years (especially the past 12 months) have been about making bets that will set direction for the next five.

This July will also mark one year since we moved to a bigger office in Andheri. Our team has grown (and is growing still), and we realised we had a gender diversity issue and have ensured that we did better on this front. As we look forward to another year of pushing ourselves in new ways and directions, here’s what I feel we need to do more of.

Strengthening the organisation

To be honest, our growth has come on the back of us not being a ‘traditional’ organisation. We’ve put the work first, and systems later so that our attention is always on doing what’s best for the client. Having set that foundation, it is now time to focus on areas which will help scale the quality of the work we do, with contributions spread across the entire team.

By directing our attention towards training, systems, and processes we can ensure that we are always on our toes and on top of the latest trends in the industry.

Expanding horizons

Our industry is changing, and changing rapidly. Our success will depend on our ability to navigate these changes, and in certain aspects, accelerate them. We cannot afford any holy cows, and our area of business is certainly not one of them. By nature we are curious and refuse to accept the status quo. We will question perceived notions and expand into areas where we see scope to add value and make a more compelling proposition to clients.

Learning from failure

Nothing teaches you to be humble quite like failure. We’ve had our share of it, it hurts. But we need to also be aware why we fail and grow stronger from there. Failure teaches us to learn better. Didn’t close a pitch? Understand why, and make the next one better. A campaign didn’t perform as expected? Make sure we do what is needed to change it, sometimes mid-course, and challenge ourselves to do better. Remaining humble in challenging situations is the only way we can ensure we’re on our toes, doing better each time. Failure also teaches us to learn better.

What do we look forward to?

By the theme of this blog, you’ll be able to fathom a guess about the direction we’re going in. Teen Bandar has always been focused on creating win-win situations for our clients, and their customers and stakeholders. The people we develop our strategies and content for are not confined to a single medium. Why should our definition of who we are? Our obsession with creating better experiences will define where our messages are delivered. And our team will evolve to meet these challenges head on in our sixth year. And beyond.

Lessons and Resolutions

I like to approach each year as a challenge. Bettering my craft, pushing boundaries, and trying new things keeps me sharp and the work interesting. Along the way, I’ve learnt a little. Here are my big takeaways from our fifth year.

  • Understand what’s in the client’s selfish interest: If a great idea is not so great in the context of the client’s business interests, is it still a great idea? While we’ve had our share of disagreements, we’ve started to be able to sell our ideas better when we can show them to be aligned in their best interests. This is where it helps to truly take ownership of our work and not treat it like something only our clients care about.

  • Don’t stick to the same pond, when there’s an ocean out there:Oftentimes, digital media agencies get pigeonholed into just delivering on social media. By widening the horizon to all areas where we can influence consideration, we can explore wider areas of interest and more tightly integrated campaigns.

  • Know your value: It is true, when we started out, we were the guys who undercut other agencies who we felt ‘overcharged’ clients. However, we also realised that there are clients who understand the value an agency brings goes beyond sheer number of posts or impressions delivered. By focusing on what’s in our clients’ best interests, we add value to their brands. We’ve lost out a few times because we refused to be undervalued. However, giving in once undermines our next set of pitches.

  • You are your team: At Teen Bandar, we set out to be the kind of workplace that gave opportunities for our team members to grow into their true potential. Sometimes, this has meant making the wrong hire or not being able to afford the time needed for a talent to fully bloom. This past year, we’ve made a conscious effort to infuse a good mix of experience with fresh energy, giving both a challenge and opportunity to grow. Ultimately we want this team to attract even more new talent which can flourish together.

  • Persisting and pivoting: Having the strength to persevere through difficulty helps tide over rough times as much as knowing when to drop something you’re passionate about. If you don’t have the wherewithal to see tough projects through, you’ll never get anywhere. But equally, if you don’t know when to accept that some things are not worth more effort, you’ll miss other opportunities that knocked when you weren’t around to pay attention.

And now, some areas to work towards:

  • The first five years have been about setting a strong foundation. The next five need to be about being decisive and fearless.

  • As a ‘Jack of All Trades’ type, I often take on more than I can chew. I need to trust my team more and challenge them to get out of their comfort zones so that together, we learn faster. There is always someone who will be better than me. The only way to learn who, is by empowering them more.

  • Now that we have a body of work, the next task is to build the machine that can refine it, and take on bigger projects and challenges. Our team needs to be better than us in all areas. This way, I can achieve my ultimate goal — firing myself.

  • Do more work we can be proud of. The kind of work that makes us go to bed with a smile on our faces. Our goal should be to produce such memorable work on a daily basis.

  • For the past few years, my aim has been to read more and write more.The shift to a new office has given me the perfect excuse to start a new reading habit. I hope that in the next year I learn to write more. This way, I’ll be able to be better and more efficient at this craft (as you may have noticed this blog has become quite verbose)

So that’s it — what I learnt in this half-decade building Teen Bandar. We’re nowhere near done. I can’t wait to see what comes out of our little zoo. What I can say for sure is that something special is always just around the corner with our band of Bandars who will keep #MakingItBandarful.