From Running His Startup To Now Preparing To Be A Dad Soon, Nikhil Shahane Shares His Story And Dreams For His Company

Nikhil Shahane shares details of his professional journey with us, from working with a FM channel to running his startup now for 4 years now, he has come a long way.

Tell us something about 21n78e and the legs the company operates into?
21N78E Creative Labs is an Ecosystems Communications Solutions Agency. It means that we’re interested in studying the consumer’s communication and media ecosystem and partially understanding the brand ecosystem from product to marketing and thereby suggesting the best ways for brands to connect and find a happy place. So whether or not we recommend and then execute a TVC or a Digital Film or a web experience or just run programmatic ad campaigns depends on what the ecosystems of the brands & consumers merge into.

How did 21n78e happen? Tell us about the story behind.
21N78E Creative Labs was born when the co-founders, Sudhir Nair (an advertising veteran) and Navin Karkera (a rural marketing veteran) were debating the state of advertising over many months and realized that there’s this ever-increasing gap between what consumers are doing and what brands are planning. In a sense, we’re trying to help bridge that gap. With a strategic foundation and using ever-evolving technology, 21N78E aims to help brands communicate better with its consumers through niche content and viable distribution models. 21N78E is an India story, so when we have offices beyond India and go global, hopefully soon, 21* North 78* East will always point to the heart of India.

How do you see the landscape of creative agencies / Digital in India and does India has the potential to compete with global players in the same space?
India’s always seen as being behind the curve when it comes to advertising, but that has just as much to do with where we are in our growth journey as a nation. There’s no dearth of ideas, and in a sense we’ve had advertising just as good as anyone in the west. However the risk-taking capacity has always been relatively less compared to the west, so disruptive ideas were few and far between. Now with Digital being such a big part of consumers’ lives, and the relative cost implications being comparatively less, we’ll see more and more innovation with ideas, formats and the likes that should at least put us on the same level as players in the global space.

How big is the team and what kind of people you prefer to hire?
We’re now 4 big offices with about 85 people across Bombay, Bangalore, and Delhi. We’re always on the lookout for people who are driven to make a difference and want to contribute to the future of advertising; digital or otherwise. We want people who have some hobbies outside of advertising so they can bring the freshness of thinking and some renewed energy to the table. Anyone interested in working at a place that’s doing something different hit us up on Facebook!

Tell us about some of your successful campaigns in brief.
Metropolis healthcare – Our mothers are most special to us. Most of us, however, don’t really know about the smaller, and rather important, details of their lives. We may know if they suffer from major illnesses, but do we really know what medicines they take? Or what their dosage is? Couple that with the insight that most Indian parents are closed and very little is known by their children about their ‘past’ life. So in 2018, on Mother’s day, we decided to ask our audiences about that #OneThingAboutMom that they didn’t know – maybe she was the football champ in school, or maybe she was the heartthrob of her college. We also reminded our audiences not to forget to ask the important questions and find out more about their health. We also did a little bit of Twitter hi-jacking by responding to other brands’ Mother’s Day offers by reminding them not to forget about the most important thing – their mom’s health!

Motorola – For the launch of the Moto G6 – a phone that was designed keeping YOU in mind, we put together a 4-hour long launch event that featured various influencers across different disciplines such as art, music, dance, and tech – all keeping YOU at the center. The various features of the phone were brought alive by the performers making the connection between how the phone was designed for you through real-life instances. The launch event was streamed, LIVE, the whole duration with little to no room for error and turned out to be a huge success.

What are your future plans ( Expansion, product etc)
21N78E Creative Labs is focused on innovation through the application of technology in new ways. As a company, we’re currently in the process of working on a few different products that would aid our clients in making their marketing efforts either more effective or immersive, through the use of technology. We also currently have a pilot running with farmers in Western Maharashtra where we’re working towards helping make farming more sustainable by providing a real-time farmer advisory through the use of mobile tech.

Are you bootstrapped or backed by an investor? In case of backed, request you to provide details about them?
Bootstrapped, profitable and growing by the day. 🙂

What is the piece of advice you will give to marketers who are in a hunt of great agencies? What should they keep in mind?
Always look for a partner who is just as interested in the business as much as the communication. The good ones bring a great deal of creativity to effective ideas. Also be willing to take a risk with someone who has a fresh idea that may seem counterintuitive – if anything, Behavioral Economics has proven that humans sometimes behave in counter-intuitive ways.

What is your mantra of success and who is your real-life role model?
Have a clear goal and show up every day to work towards it. I take a lot of cues from how Jesus dealt with situations – business or otherwise. While definitely not preached about much in the Church – Jesus is quite a businessman!

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