Value360 Communications has grown with the start-up boom. Kunal Kishore, Founder-Director, Value360 Communications, tells us how it became the go-to PR agency for start-ups
BY SIMRAN SABHERWAL
Value360 Communications has built a reputation of being the “go-to PR agency for startups” but in the initial stages, according to Kunal Kishore, Founder- Director of the agency, “those were the only businesses that were ready to work with you”.
One of the companies that approached Value360 in 2008 was MoneySaver, an offline coupon book business helmed by Kunal Bahl. But, the proposal was ignored. Bahl again approached the PR agency in 2009 and this time around the company snapped up the business. Even as Value360 was hired for MoneySaver, Snapdeal was getting formed and soon the PR agency was working on the new company too. Around the same time, local classified ad site OLX and programmatic platform for mobile video advertising Vdopia also came on board, (incidentally, all three companies were at that point being funded by venture capital firm Nexus Venture Partners). Kishore says, “If there is one name behind some of the big brands that emerged, it’s Value360. Whether it’s a Snapdeal or Paytm or ShopClues or Foodpanda or any big name that has emerged in this category of new start-ups, and you take any category, at least one name is through us.” He adds, “We have been part of the journey of three unicorns (a unicorn denotes a start-up company whose valuation has exceeded the value of $1 billion) in the country. We are working with multiple companies, such as UrbanClap, which are in the process of becoming the next generation unicorns.”
For start-ups, PR becomes the focus of mainstream communication, unlike bigger businesses, where advertising and marketing are the focus. Working with start-ups has its shares of advantages as it also allows direct interaction with the higher management, including the CEO, allows agility in terms of planning and ideas can be executed into actionable campaigns much more easily than with other brands, says Kishore, adding that while start-ups will remain the core focus and drive for his business, Value360 is also working with other brands.
With increased focus on how PR agencies handle crises in today’s digital age, Kishore says crisis communication should not only be practised during a crisis, but has to be part of the overall communication strategy. Recalling a crisis situation handled by his firm, Kishore recalls a tweet/SMS sent out by eyewear portal Lenskart in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake which went viral. He says that understanding the gravity of the situation, everybody was immediately brought on board and a holding statement was released within four hours, thus mitigating the situation.
Founded in 2003, Value360 Communications grew at a slow pace in its initial years and was only a six-member team up to 2009. Since then, the growth has been “phenomenal” and the agency grew by 65% in the last fiscal. “We will be able to maintain about 70% growth going ahead,” says Kishore. The firm has been able to scale up and hired 100 new resources, taking its total headcount to 200. Kishore also claims that the PR agency’s retention level of clients is about 65% to 70%. It works mostly on a retainer basis for clients, and does not believe in advertising or paid media, the focus being only on earned media.
Looking ahead, Value360 is looking to set up another arm in India and also expand to two international markets, namely Singapore and the UAE. The company has also increased its service basket and built an in-house tech team to develop mobile apps for a third party, or any kind of digital asset that is required, right from a basic website to a complex mobile solution. While this business’ contribution to revenue is not much, Kishore is betting on this stream to increasingly contribute to revenues in the future. Talking about the focus areas for the year ahead, Kishore says, “Content marketing, visual communication, online reputation management… these are the things that we want to focus on.”
On a parting note, Kishore lets it slip that Value360 has evoked interest from two international agencies looking to acquire stake in the company and even though the company is evaluating the proposals, he says they are “not actively looking at them”.