Startup > My Story > Pankaj Umrania
Pankaj Umrania

Pankaj Umrania


Short Description

Lot of people ask me the ‘mantra’ (that’s what they call it) to build a company overnight, I tell them let’s start the topic all over again when you are in senses.It requires a rigorous effort to build a successful company, it can’t be built overnight. We ourselves are growing the organization organically and still are in the making of a successful billion-dollar company. There is no right time to start out, the day you lose the fear of losing what you have and decide to start the journey from ground zero, it will be a day to start the new innings of an unstoppable journey. Have faith! Go forward!

Brief about company, offerings and foundation of the company

Two55am is a digital marketing agency head quartered in Gurgaon (India) offering an array of services like Strategy, Mobile Solutions, Creative, Technology & Digital Marketing.Strategy: We assist clients in Brand Communication and Planning, Behavioral Research and Digital Media Strategy. Mobile Solutions: iPhone, iPad, Windows 7, Microsoft Surface (Metro Style Apps) Blackberry, Android Applications, Hybrid (Cross OS Compatible) Apps, Mobile SEO and Mobile Marketing. Creatives: Brand Experience Assessment & Development, Interaction Design, Content Creation, Website Audits. Technology: Ecommerce, Content Management System, HTML 5 Development, Website Design & Development, Open Source Development, Facebook Apps Development, Rich Internet Application Development (Adobe Flex, Air, etc.) Digital Marketing: Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click, E-mail Marketing, Site Usability & Optimization. Two55am works with brands across the globe to help strategize ideas and bring them to reality. Two55am’s clients include – Aircel, PWC, Microsoft, CK Birla Group, Nokia, Ford, Orra Diamonds, xBHP, IILM, Rosy Blue, Sprint, Collage Group and Federal Bank, among others. Currently Two55am is offering its services to India, US, UK, APAC & Middle East.Two55am thrives on innovation and acquires the latest trends and technologies to give the best of the services to their clients and help them stay ahead of their competitors. For instance, Microsoft Surface is yet to launch (in Oct/Nov 2012) and we are already working on some solutions for Surface, with our partners.We have been delivering projects for Fortune 500 brands.Two55am was founded in June 2010. Since its inception Two55am has come a long way. From its headquarters in New Delhi/Gurgaon (India) we are serving companies of all sizes ranging from startups to large enterprises allowing them to achieve their business objective in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Best company I admire globally

Undoubtedly it is Apple for me. I am a big fan of sublime designs and their technology. I remember buying iPod classic, it was my first product from Apple. Then and now, I have been crazily spending money on their products – be it the iPhone 2G, iPhone 4S, MacBook Air, iPad 2, etc. I commend the way they make ‘out of the world’ designs & their unparalleled technology that the consumer falls in love with and buys it within a blink of an eye.

Most critical decision

The thought of bootstrapping a company from scratch in turn of a fat salary in itself was a horrifying thought. In order to make the company profitable from Day 1, I did not opt to go through the VC route. I bootstrapped this venture with 2 team members by taking a shared space in an office and then with in six months we rocketed and took over the entire office. We have been fortunate enough to be a profitable startup from the beginning and we continue to invest in the amazing talent that helps in our growth.

Three big lessons/ mistakes encountered while building company

The lessons -1)Know what you offer / sell: Be the buyer yourself or the user of what you sell to make it believable for others – eat, sleep and breathe it before you go out and sell.2)Be honest with your client - Always be honest with your client, if there is something that’s not working out; don’t fool around - stand up, convey it to the client. Trust me he will be the one on your side to support you.3)Business is people & talent driven – Give respect / be humble to your team, they are the driving force, it’s a collective effort. Trust them.

Different actions if I rebuild my company from scratch all over again

Right now there is nothing that comes to my mind, which I would have done differently, we are where we are today because our each step was measured. May be if you ask this question in another 5 years, I can answer it differently but I will still hope that we tread our path as cautiously & confidently as we have done till date.

Motivation and Drives factor

The fact that now I am not just earning for myself, I have the responsibility of my team. I feel responsible, thus drive myself. On every new win I feel super motivated – be it a new business win or any challenges we may have thrashed out. I am charged to do something that is unusual, it is yet to happen. I will be motivated to the core until I achieve it.

Unique about my way of motivating troops

We have some amazing talent and rock stars who are contributing to the growth of the company. All good belongs to them and all bad is mine, is what I tell them. I explain to them how entrepreneur works, the challenges, the opportunity and the profitability. Every action is directly equivalent to the profitability and success of the company. I give them a free hand and don’t step on their toes to micro manage them. We want them to grow themselves and grow the company with them. We do not consider any of our team members as mere resources; our people are our strength.

Way of choosing my people

I ensure that the new prospective member goes through a final round of personal discussion with me once he has cleared all other tests & discussions. I trust my intuition; I ask random questions related to their education, their aim in life, personal life, past career, background, etc.It helps me gauge the vision and attitude of a person. I generally don’t hire people with a negative attitude, a person has to be positive and grounded to earth.We look for people who are dynamic, confident and an Entrepreneur at heart.We are in the process of building an environment where innovation thrives and this translates into the best-in-class services. At Two55am their nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dressing habits and even their Educational Background does not matter. 

The challenges and lessons learnt to get first customer

Our first client wanted an Ecommerce solution along with the online marketing strategy, it was very crucial to them for the growth of their business not just in India but they were looking to foray into the international market as well – US, Europe, Middle East, Singapore & Australia. I was alone that point in time, I paid a visit to them with a formal proposal and the marketing plan. My past credentials in the industry helped me crack that business for us.

Experience of reaching out to potential investors

Our clients are spread across various geographies in India and in Overseas. We plan to expand to have the local presence in Mumbai, Bangalore and US very soon. Some companies are approaching us for JVs, Alliances, Investments, etc. We haven’t taken any decision yet but we’d soon like to adopt one of these routes to expand and cater to a wider market.

Risks involved in business and way of addressing
Many brands still spend a majority of their marketing budgets on traditional media; investment on digital media is gradually increasing so we build up by educating the clients, the business impact and the ROI that digital media has. Time was changing earlier and now it has changed a lot. The digital advertising ecosystem has evolved in mature markets around the world at an accelerated pace over the last 2 years, both in terms of volume of digital ad spend, as well as complexity of the value chain. We are facing similar challenges in mobile solutions as well. As the Indian mobile industry is growing as compared to other leading markets, clients in India are not very open to invest in mobile innovation as new & upcoming medium for brands to leverage the audience. Some times we really need to enlighten the client on the long term ROI factors and immense opportunities the medium has. Technology plays a vital role in our business; I call it the building block. Change is inevitable, so is technology, it changes every minute - for good. Our R&D team continuously strives towards acquiring most recent trends & technologies, we invest huge – both on time & money to evolve and delight the clients.
My role at different dimensions as the company evolved

When we started out, my primary role was to Sell and Deliver, soon as we grew, I had to take on several roles like HR, Admin & Finance as well. Your role is never limited; you need to set everything right, it is very crucial to lay out the foundation of the company right. Gradually we appointed heads to each units and now I just mentor & help them in strategic decisions. Currently my primary role revolves around – Sales Strategy & Business planning, Business Development, Relationship Management.

As a leader how I make sure that I am connecting the right dots

As a leader and driver of the company, it is very important to do the long term planning and set your goals right. Share it with your team, take their opinion. Assess the risk, smell it in the air and act swiftly. Look at your growth data, perform a check if it is going too slow or too fast, dive into the numbers and assess mistakes timely.

My thoughts related to entrepreneurship/ leadership and management

People buy your product / services because it helps fill in the narrative gaps in their lives. You can either be the cheapest or the best. A Client knows which one they prefer.


Some of the difficulties faced while building product/ solution

Before starting out any company it is very important to set the positioning right, that is what sets a company and it’s offerings apart, in my opinion. Everything comes secondary; business plan, revenue model, scalability, etc. I was working with IT and Digital media companies in my career before Two55am and I saw a clear gap and an opportunity in the way that these companies are operating which leads to the client needed the support from 2 separate companies – IT & Creative. IT companies are generally very strong in technology, which is their focus area. But they generally lack in User Interfaces, Social thinking and Marketing ideas, which is where Digital agencies come into play but with digital agencies the challenge is strong technical expertise to service enterprise level requirements, they have good user experience expertise and brand guys. We have bridged the gap between an IT company and a Creative agency by bringing together 2 expertise - Technology and Creative. It was very crucial for us to do the right positioning in terms of our brand image and the offerings. It gives us an edge over others and sets us apart as the leaders in our end-to-end approach.

Advice for fellow entrepreneurs

Lot of people ask me the ‘mantra’ (that’s what they call it) to build a company overnight, I tell them let’s start the topic all over again when you are in senses.It requires a rigorous effort to build a successful company, it can’t be built overnight. We ourselves are growing the organization organically and still are in the making of a successful billion-dollar company. There is no right time to start out, the day you lose the fear of losing what you have and decide to start the journey from ground zero, it will be a day to start the new innings of an unstoppable journey. Have faith! Go forward!