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Growing a Marketing Agency during Pandemic 

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Mihir Joshi 1702Digital

We talked to Mihir Joshi​, founder of 1702 Digital, about digital marketing ideas and this is what he said about it.

First of all, how did you and your family battle the COVID-19 time? 

Mihir Joshi​: I am one of those people who experienced what it feels like being quarantined because of contracting COVID. While it wasn’t an ideal situation by any stretch, I decided to accept the reality and battled through it with support from my dear ones. Slowly recovering back to my full potential, I built a nice home-office set up for myself and feel very fortunate to have been able to be close to my family during and post-work. All I wanted is not to let my work and team be affected because of my mini setback. By staying home, eating meals on time, and avoiding the pollution that otherwise forms part of our everyday commute, I found improvement in my health. And the support from both my personal and professional family has proved that I upskilled managing my team remotely during the pandemic. 

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded 1702 Digital.

Mihir Joshi​: I started my professional career with TCS. I learned a lot about the corporate world there and started building my network. Moving forward along with my competitive full-time master’s, I enrolled myself in arguably one of the toughest exams in the world – CFA. I feel privileged to fall under the prestigious 5 percentile of candidates who cleared all the 3 stages of CFA in the first attempt. What sweetens the victory is that I achieved these milestones while I was still pursuing my MBA. 

I went onto work with data analytics in finance with Axis Bank followed by work stints at global credit rating agency S&P. From there on, I moved on to ICICI, where I managed investment banking and project finance for them. I was also a visiting faculty at BSE Institute Ltd, where I took lectures on diverse topics such as corporate finance, commodities, investment banking, financial markets, etc for their undergraduate and postgraduate certification programs. I was surrounded by electronic prototypes in the early 2000s and worked on financial models and attribution analytics.  

A decade later I established a prominent foothold in digital marketing. I had always been an intrepid explorer and felt a strong willingness to give back my learnings that helped me reach this far in my career, to society. So, I co-founded 1702 Digital along with Aanchal Arora, an ex-capital markets lawyer.  

How does 1702 Digital innovate?  

Mihir Joshi​: I believe innovation happens when multiple brains are working together. So, I make sure that our team has people not only with different specialties but also possess unique thinking styles and a problem-solving attitude. We always look for clients from different sectors and problems we haven’t solved before. Giving a lot of our undivided attention to a task and brainstorming to come up with multiple solutions is the way we keep innovating. Innovation is time-consuming and so, we have built systems for regular tasks, so that those get done before the deadline giving us more time to innovate.  

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping? 

Mihir Joshi​: Yes, initially it was challenging to immediately shift to a virtual workspace but we quickly adapted to the new normal. I am extremely​ grateful that​ the coronavirus didn’t affect our business a lot, thanks to the line we are in and the relentless work put in by our team. They ensured that our client’s kept on generating revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. In return, our customers also made sure that we too kept growing. Digital was booming during the lockdown and it has helped us grow by leaps and bounds.  

Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned? 

Mihir Joshi​: I am content​ with​ the efforts made by our team, who put in more than 100% so we didn’t have to make any tough decisions concerning the human resources department. Yes, it was difficult to make systems to be more efficient during the lockdown when everyone was working from home. Now, the team is working like a well-oiled machine and that too virtually. I learned that hiring people with leadership qualities can be the solution to most of our challenges.  

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis? 

Mihir Joshi​: I can’t point out one specific tool or software that helped us navigate during the crisis. Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Zoho HRM worked quite well for us. To keep the team spirits high, we meet frequently to bond with each other virtually. Especially with the ones who joined the company during the pandemic. I love it when our HR team keeps on organizing small fun events so that everyone is connected and no one feels left out.  

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game? 

Mihir Joshi​: The list of competitors in our field is high in Mumbai, leave alone India. But, where we stand out is an exceptional workflow and transparency shown upfront before we onboard any client. We make sure that our clients have peace of mind once they sign the deal with us. Finally, we deeply value the timelines promised and look for opportunities to over-deliver as much as possible.

Your final thoughts?

Mihir Joshi​: I believe that good communication between both parties can solve a major chunk of problems in business. You need to be quick to adapt to the latest trends or product launches and give your 200% in executing them for your clients. If you keep customer satisfaction as your top priority, I doubt anyone can stop you from growing into a large business irrespective of whether it is a pandemic or not. Don’t forget to market yourself when you solve the real pain points that your customers had. 

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