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Ask Mitchelle Carvalho for Advice
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Mitchelle Carvalho
Mitchelle Carvalho

Mitchelle Carvalho

Co-Founder, CogMat

My Company
CogMat derives its name from two words, Cogito and Materius, which when put together simply mean ’thoughts to matter’. We're strong believers of Cogito Ergo Sum meaning ‘I think therefore I am’ and we bring the same philosophy to our work lives. This in essence defines what everything at CogMat is all about.

I co-founded CogMat 3 years ago along with my mentor Chirag Purecha, who runs CMSS Pvt. Ltd., a Mumbai-based IT and Software Services Company.

When we were looking at the idea of starting a Digital Media Agency, one major point that stood out as a plus for us was our strength in technology. With CMSS' background in enterprise-wide application development, we went all out in bagging projects that required the technological boost—at times even clinching projects from the big boys because of this strength.

We have now progressed to providing full-fledged Digital Solutions for brands, including Social Media Marketing, Online Reputation Management, Search Engine Optimisation, Online Advertising, Affiliate Marketing among Websites and e-commerce design and development. We're successfully doing that for over 30 brands from industries such as Retail, BFSI, Technology and Education in India and Hong Kong.

Our recent campaign ‘101 Uses of Gadgets without Quick Heal’ for Quick Heal Technologies is testimony that we're capable of successfully creating mass awareness for a brand through pure-play digital branding.
My Role
From day one, my roles have been diverse. I could be talking to decision-makers and negotiating deals one day, while serving tea and snacks for my team that's staying late in office to meet a project deadline on another. My people and clients sum up my major responsibilities, everything else is simply in between.
Way to reach out potential investors
Chirag Purecha was our original investor. He was kind enough to give me and my first team mate two systems and a section in his office to function out of; at the outset. We eventually had to move out in 14 months as our team had outgrown the space.
Culture as the Company has Grown
You will find people from various walks of life in our team - we've got ex-stock brokers, a French teacher, National and International-level swimmers, a political activist, a sports-team coordinator, gadget freaks and geeks, among others, - all of whom have brilliantly added to our culture and are currently doing some fantastic work with our clients.

The average age in my company is about 24, so we're a bunch of young mad hats. Our hiring process has been tedious for many, but we've found the right kind of people who fit our mindset. We're unconventional in hiring - we don't look at qualifications and experience letters. I once politely showed the door to a lady who said she deserved the job because she's an MBA.

I am personally involved in the hiring process and talk to incumbents for a very long time, mostly about their interests and hobbies. Sometimes that's all we've spoken of and hired people who've brought nothing but brilliance to the table. Passion; personal or professional, is very important to us. It gives us great insight into people and their strengths.
Faced Challenges
Since we started out as an arm of CMSS, we were always perceived to be ‘digital media tech specialists’. Many a time, clients thought that’s all we could do and would consider us last for Digital or Social media activations for their brands.

We've taken some time but have now broken this mindset to a large extent. Our recent successes with Vijay Sales and Quick Heal have brands and clients calling us to talk about various creative activations in the Digital space.
Advice for fellow entrepreneurs
I was 23, middle-class, in a stable job but unhappy on an intellectual level when I decided to take the plunge. With 80,000 INR of life-savings, I gave them all to my mother and asked her to not expect anything from me for a year at least.
The best advice I could give potential entrepreneurs is Plan and have goals, but don’t get bogged down or disappointed if you don’t meet them. Plans always go awry, goals are more often than not never met; however, it must not slow your pace. If you maintain the fervour and passion, results will show and they will definitely be worth the wait.

Tenacity is extremely important. You will fail, make wrong hiring decisions, lose clients, lose people, lose money – it’s important that you mourn the loss of each one of those things, but get up the next day and work to right the wrong.
Your reputation is everything. As an entrepreneur, your list of priorities in your set-up should be - Company Reputation, Clients, Employees and Money - necessarily in THAT order.  
As much as money is important to run the show, if your reputation and work don't match up, you won't survive for long.

Invest in a strong work ethic and good people - the return on investment on these two are bountiful.
On a personal level, don’t bring about extreme lifestyle changes, at least in the beginning phase of your business. Running a business is a risk in itself. You may have money today, but it may not be the same tomorrow. Once you make a lifestyle change, you are pressured to maintain it and the effect of not being able to maintain it due to losses hurts the most. I still travel by train and bus; the days I need to rush, I take a rickshaw. I don’t own a car; I have my team-mates pick me up in theirs.
My key thoughts
To start anything, the most important question to ask is ‘Why?’: Why should I start a Business? Why I think it will work?  More often than not, people have fancy presentations with business plans and ideas that are full of ‘What the product/service is all about? How much revenue it will earn you per quarter? When should you launch it in the market?’
None of this really talks about the core thought to initiate something.
It’s important to ask the right questions, everything else just falls into place after that.

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