Happy Marketer — Standing On The Shoulder of Giants!
By now, most of you would have perhaps heard or read about Happy Marketer being acquired by Merkle, one of the largest, US-based, data-driven marketing services firm and we, the #HappyTribe are overjoyed and overwhelmed with all the congratulatory messages and good wishes that have come our way. We are blessed!
As I calm my mind down to soak-in this moment after the initial euphoria and reflect on this momentous occasion, I realize that my biggest blessings were the families, friends and the founding partners that helped us create and nurture a flourishing venture called Happy Marketer.
I got to meet Rachit literally on my first day in Singapore on 9th July 2001 as we enrolled in the same faculty in the National University of Singapore and during those four years, one realized that apart from being a very kind and sensible soul, he was cut out to take a different path in life ~ many of us were rather surprised and perhaps even ridiculed him for not applying for jobs when we were about to graduate. Whilst many of us had taken courses in technopreneurship and had enjoyed it, he was the only one who was certain that he was going to give this thing called “entrepreneurship” a fair chance whilst the rest of us settled for cushy, stable jobs in the public/private sectors.
Whilst we celebrate the 10-year journey today as #HMX, what goes unnoticed are the struggles of the pre-HM days between 2005–2009, which I had a chance to witness first hand. He set up Rachit Dayal Communications (check out rachitdayal.com for more details;)) to offer website development, corporate logo design, SEO & PPC Marketing services to startups & SMEs and had an open mind to develop numerous skills such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP); hypnosis as well as his oratory skills at Toastmasters. I dare say, it is this pursuit of excellence and a fundamental belief that everyone has certain strengths to offer is what laid a very strong foundation for the Happy Marketer journey.
I still remember that chat over coffee at City Hall on a May afternoon with Rachit & Sayaka, when Rachit first broached the topic and made an offer for me to join him; I was intrigued, confused and excited at the same time. I was interviewing for corporate gigs at Facebook & LinkedIn at that point in time(failed to secure both of them in the final rounds eventually) and here was an opportunity to finally jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon and to be the driver of one’s own destiny. It took me 6 months to deliberate and convince myself and my parents and I was glad that both Baba & Maa wholeheartedly supported my decision to take this calculated risk as I told myself that I would give myself 3 years to give this a go, failing which I would dive back into the corporate world and believed that my bachelors degree would be a good insurance policy in that regard. Eternally grateful to my parents (and Bishwajit kaku!) who have exposed me to different disciplines and skills but allowed me to pursue and chart out my own path.
My journey at Happy Marketer as a Partner officially began on 1st November 2011 but the preparations had begun about a couple of years earlier. My first foray into digital was with Pinstorm, one of the early pioneers in this domain and where I learned the ropes with a bunch of energetic, enthusiastic Mavericks. This period coincided with one of my lowest moments in life on the personal front and it is only thanks to the support and encouragement of my family and friends like Rachit, Shivanu, Shushanta, Ravish, Prerna, Shilpa, Arpit, Deepanker, Samheeta, Amrut, Ananth, Karthik, Vyshnavi that I managed to stay afloat. Ironically, this low period also increased my risk appetite as one realized “how much worse can things get anyways?” and even if it did, one can always bounce back. Must add that my solo, pan-India Cricket World Cup trip in 2011 had also changed my perspectives on many fronts and filled me with a lot of optimism. One realized it was time to move on and thus began the journey to dare to dream.
The early years of Happy Marketer were all about hustling in the day to sell what we could and spend the evenings delivering on our promises. We loved the energy, freedom and the smell of any opportunity that came our way and we pursued every deal with gusto and aggression. Life had turned a new leaf and we never looked back. During this phase, Rachit & I were blessed to meet two young, humble, dedicated souls with a lot of integrity, who would eventually go onto becoming partners in the venture. Sanchit & Awadesh have a strong foundation in technology and problem solving but are even more equipped in people management.
Sanchit was a Deans Lister at the SP Jain School of Global Management. He perhaps had multiple corporate offers but at Professor Subba’s recommendation, he took the plunge with us and has grown from strength to strength ever since. I have met very few people as resilient as him and thanks to him and his better half, Kanika, we are blessed with another supportive and fun-loving friend circle that we call “Strath52” who have added a lot of colour in lives! He has worn many hats in our business and has succeeded on all fronts and is all set to drive the next phase of our growth, especially in the ASEAN region.
Awadesh, who we got to know via Sanchit, is a 2nd generation entrepreneur and has run a successful technology company out of my birth city, Kolkata, called Simplifys. The company supported us on multiple, successful projects over the years and we eventually decided to acquihire him and a few of his best people for the journey ahead. His sincerity, dedication, and customer-centricity are unparalleled and I am glad Surabhi and he decided to move to Singapore to join us on this journey.
For me, business has been personal and rightly or wrongly, I have never believed in separating the two facets of my life and I had always wished for a life partner who would understand and support that sentiment. I could not be more thankful to my best friend and wife, Dipti for believing in me and proactively supporting and encouraging me at every little juncture of the Happy Marketer journey, be it supporting me on pitches, proof-reading my blogs or secretly conspiring with the #HappyTribe to make celebratory videos. We started dating during my very first year in the company when the bank balance was negligible and we had to bank on a lot of hope and faith and I am glad to see how things have worked out. Her family, Mummy-Papa-Ro, too have been equally supportive of my entrepreneurial journey and they have cheered me along at every little milestone and I feel blessed.
When I ponder and ask myself what led to the success of our venture, my head and heart clearly tell me that the answer is the collective called the #HappyTribe and all that it has come to represent. At the core of it, we are believers in the power of digital and the force for good that it can be; beyond that, we are a clan that does not take itself too seriously, enjoys a good laugh, believes in the potential and strength of teams, strives for excellence, does not overthink and plan too much ahead, sincerely goes about the job at hand and is bloody good at taking care of one another. We are extremely grateful to our tribe and their families for sticking with us and supporting us through thick and thin. As Rachit’s father, Yogesh uncle, aptly reminded us a few days before the deal that the foundations of this success story were laid decades ago when all our families put in the hard yards, raised us with humility and imbibed us with values that has stood the test of time. If we have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulder of these Giants :)
This acquisition was nearly 2 years in the making ever since Shivanu kindly introduced us to Ted Bray, who has been ever so patient to understand our plans, priorities and the importance that we lay on our thriving culture. This deal would not have been possible without the ardent support of Sam, Hattie & Max from our bankers, SI Partners; our lawyers, Karthik & Marcus from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and our PR partner, Anu Gupta from AsiaPRWerkz. We are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead and are as hungry as ever to work closely with the brilliant minds at Merkle and Dentsu Aegis Network to scale Happy Marketer by 10X in the next 5 years.
The success story of the first 10 years of our journey is the collective success of the founding partners, the entire #HappyTribe, our families, friends and business associates from partners such as Google, BCG, Marketing Magazine, Oracle, Adobe, HubSpot, Salesforce who have contributed tremendously over the years. In our next chapter, we hope to continue to challenge boundaries, keep the entrepreneurial spirit high, fuel more dreams along the way, strive for excellence and create a legacy that becomes the stepping stone for the coming generation.
“But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”