‘The team that wasn’t’ by Affle CEO

Source : Impact Magazine | View Original

Date : October 09, 2011

    Anuj Kumar

This happened in 2006, when we had just started Affle. I was the only member of the founding team based out of India, the rest were in Singapore.

The key to our business success lay in establishing strong partnerships with telecom carriers. So that was my focus. Working with telecom carriers for product launches requires liaison with several teams. Given my entrepreneurial spirit, I was excited to do it. But I also realised that most people in large companies were more comfortable working with established set-ups. The only way to achieve a successful partnership with large companies was to position oneself as an equal. That is what we did when we were really very far from being a large established corporation.

Even if I was doing a meeting alone, there were always references to the ‘team’s point of view’, various people were marked on e-mails amongst other things we did to comfort the partner. But the telecom carrier always saw only me arriving for meetings. This even led them to ask where my team members were. Most start-ups would panic at this, but we decided to use their inquisitiveness to our benefit. Our rationale was straightforward-it is our global policy that to ensure the best servicing, we have only one person leading a particular account end to end and we create different forums for building cross-team engagement. It was easier said than done, as till date, there is actually no one else in the company locally and hence there is no real way of doing this cross-team engagement. However, sensing the need, we decided to organise an event to build team engagement. To make sure that this stated strategy worked for us, we got people from our team in Singapore to come to Delhi. To add credibility, our key focus was to have the largest nationality spread for this forum. Thus in our 10-12 member team, we ensured that five people having different and impressive skillsets came from Europe, America and Asia. This created a larger than real global perception for the company.

Just looking at the way we organised the forum and the cross-cultural presence got the partner very excited, and led them to allocate 15 people from different teams to come down for this one-day seminar. What would have taken us months to achieve, hundreds of phone calls and long hours of waiting, was achieved in one stroke. Fifteen decision-makers across various departments of a leading carrier present in one room with us for the whole day! Give that scenario to any hungry, ambitious start-up and they will lap it up, which is what we did. In one day, we had completed the journey from ‘interesting product, let’s evaluate’ to ‘we will launch on X date at Y commercial terms with Z integrations’. I’m sure large corporations do such things often, but a start-up putting a lot of its money to do something of this scale ensured that we were suddenly in the top league. From there, it has been smooth sailing.