Raghav & Sudha's 'The Media Cafe' (TMC) is The cafe for the fraternity
In the recent times, numerous members of the media fraternity have ventured out of their existing roles to explore their entrepreneurial calling. Raghav Subramanian and Sudha Natrajan, both media veterans with 20+yrs of experience to their credit, also enter the league, but with a 'little out - of - league' business idea. Subramanian and Natrajan launched two businesses; while one is, TMC - The Media Consultancy – a strategic consultancy specialising in new age consumer research, brand and ROI analytics and modelling, media content and training; the second is, TMC - The Media Café – the first of its kind media, advertising and marketing hangout. A place the fraternity can call its ‘own’ where one can bond, learn, gossip, and have a lot of fun!
While conversing with Adgully, Raghav Subramanian and Sudha Natrajan shared some insights of the initiative and much more.
Sharing his experience on the very first day of TMC – The Media Cafe, Raghav Subramanian said, “The fraternity has responded very positively to TMC. We have an exciting and an innovative menu, and it has been lapped up with a great degree of amusement. Good old soul food, tastes we have grown up with, and hence never get bored off. This is a place to de-stress, to leave our egos and snobbery aside.”
When asked what was their 'the moment’ when they decided to turn entrepreneurs and that too a Café to start with, Subramanian said, “After spending 20 years each in the industry, we both realised that we were getting a little bored with what we have been doing till now, and that the way forward for us was for us to carve out newer challenges for us. Hence was born TMC Corp.”
While about 80% of their time would go into building their Consultancy, which has been constructed in a way that addresses the gaps that they have experienced in the media agency product over the years, there was an alter ego that they wanted to satisfy.
They said that, “The answer lay in The Media Café. The Media industry is a people’s industry. The last two decades we have personally gained the friendship of everyone in the industry. We felt that we need to give something back, to offer a space that the fraternity can call their ‘own’, where they can hangout and feel a sense of belonging.”
According to Subramanian and Natarajan, Media has come a long way in the last 15 odd years, from a delivery arm within a full service agency, to a marketing partner to clients; primarily because clients realize that media is the biggest cost bucket within marketing. Hence the significance and accountability automatically rises. He further believed that this growth has also led to challenges. What started with a 2.5% – 3%, is now hovering around 1% to 2%. So now, with just a thru-put offering it has become hard to sustain, more so with global hawks keeping an eye at the numbers. So gradually ‘value added services’ have found a place within media agencies. This ranges from research to analytics to content and so on. This also adds up as a good pitch conversation (though rapidly there is no differentiation here as well).
“The next level of challenge for agencies has been delivering this promise and also selling through to clients. Media agencies find it hard to attract specialized talent in these areas both from a scope and learning perspective, as well as pay scale”, they added.
This then obviously becomes a big hurdle to deliver the services. Adding further to his statement, he said that the other big challenge is of objectivity. Especially when it comes to research and analytics, clients are not very convinced of the objectivity. “A marketing mix model might always end up saying client needs to spend more or that there is nothing wrong with the current media mix. Marketers like UL have a strict code to work with third party companies for their analytics”, he said.
TMC has the uniqueness with both its founders – Raghav and Sudha, having worked in the industry across functions over two decades. The idea is not to fix things (which are where most start ups come from), but to support and work with both advertisers and agencies to create a better space for the brands. He believes that the offering is across the line support for the thru-put. As a sound strategy needs to be backed by research and analytics and a good brand engagement needs to be enabled through content.
He said, “Our offering is both composite as well as modular. Outside of this, we will be designing varied training modules for both agencies and media owners. Such an offering from one place does not exist. That should differentiate TMC. What we are not, is a media planning and buying agency, that executes plans for brands.”
Answering one of the most obvious question of why choosing Delhi as the spot for the start-up and plans of expansion, Subramanian and Natarajan opined that, “There are only two media cities in India, Mumbai and Delhi that have the capacity of handling a Café for the fraternity and Delhi NCR, is where we are based, hence it was the obvious first choice.” They do nurture an ambition of taking it to Mumbai, after this one stabilises.
TMC has began with a very clear and simple expectation of wanting to work for brands and not clients; do good works that will make brands grow and not feed the egos of the clients, not agencies that work for clients.
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