Neil Krshna of Wordplay Content tells us about content writing and navigating Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Neil Krshna: Everyone is well, thank you. I can say much of our lifestyle has changed because of the COVID-19 restrictions, but I guess everyone finds a way to adapt.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Wordplay Content.
Neil Krshna: I started this company back when I was in university (around 2007), in my second year, whilst studying engineering. Before that, I worked a part-time job as a content marketer for a website selling MP3 ringtones on WAP! Those were still the early days of the internet in India. I started my company soon after that, and it was a great learning for all of us involved (we were all students working on this together). Around my final year of studies, I figured I wanted to take the plunge, so I stopped short of completing my course and took my startup full time. I moved to Bangalore, the startup hub of India, and started shaping the company’s future from there.
How does Wordplay Content innovate?
Neil Krshna: I would say necessity is the daddy of innovation. When there is a big need, whether it is an opportunity or a problem we are in, then we innovate to bring ourselves to a better position. Sometimes you have to think out of the box, and you will find a gem of a solution. For example: In the early days, we had trouble hiring writers for our business. We applied a few SEO tactics, and soon we ranked for a lot of writing job search-related keywords. Our applications grew exponentially and stayed that way for many years. That’s just one example of how we do things a bit differently when we want outstanding results.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Neil Krshna: The pandemic did hurt our revenues for about two months, then we were able to bring the revenues back where they were. The pandemic was a great wake-up call. We lost a few projects because the operating environment changed completely for our customers during the lockdown. This opened up our time, which we used to relook at our business. We kick started a whole lot of initiatives like marketing and SEO, and this is now returning dividends. I don’t think we would have paused and reflected on our direction if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. So we did lose *some* revenue, but we more than made up for it thanks to our new approach.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Neil Krshna: We operate with a very lean team, so luckily, we didn’t have to let go of anyone. We all did take pay cuts to help tide through our most difficult two months. I must thank my team for cooperating during a tough period. The first few weeks were bad – we would get calls from customers who were pulling the plug on gigs thanks to COVID-19, losing projects every week. Then things kind of stabilized, and the whole introspection started. We are all able to look back and say, “Wow, I can’t believe we pulled that off.” Today we are a lot wiser and tremendously more efficient.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Neil Krshna: Strangely enough, so many of our customers were now more accessible because of the work-from-home situation. Work schedules eased up with a reduction in unnecessary meetings. Zoom meetings were set up only when absolutely necessary. We got to spend more time diving deep into their business (with them) that way, which I’m sure wouldn’t have happened on a regular business day! In some cases, these discussions brought new business for us as well.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Neil Krshna: We did have some tax concessions by the government, but that wasn’t really a game-changer in any way. It was nice to take those concessions, but we had to do our own homework to keep our business above the water.
Your final thoughts?
Neil Krshna: We had a good time taking it from a pandemic to a ‘plan’-demic – a period of self-analysis and development. Things were a bit depressing initially, but we managed to pull through. We must credit this situation with forcing us to think out of the box. I want for us to retain this style of operating, well after things become normal again. We were caught off-guard, and I don’t think we should leave any room for that.
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