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How The Virgin Group Was Started

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A self titled rebel billionaire and the founder of one of the biggest conglomerates in the world, Sir Richard Branson is the owner of 400 companies in 30 countries.

Known for his alternative way of thinking, Richard Branson always challenged himself to go a step further believing that he can not only compete with large enterprises but could also do their job better. All the Virgin businesses operating today are known to work with controversial and subversive artists as well as successful ones. Almost all of the businesses started by Richard Branson challenged the established behemoths in different industries and beat them at their own game. The life story of one of the richest people in the world today is filled with highs and lows and lots of lessons to learn.

Born in Surrey England, Sir Richard Branson started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 16. In 1968, he launched his first business, a magazine by the name Student which was run only by students. While starting a magazine in itself is a great accomplishment, Sir Richard Branson was also dyslexic, who could not read, write or spell well and was often beaten for poor behavior. The publication sold $8,000 worth of advertising in its first edition and the first run of 50,000 copies was disseminated for free. However, Branson covered the cost of publication through advertising later.

Post the success of the Student, at the age of 17, living in a London commune, Branson along with Nik Powell had the idea to start a mail order record company to help fund his magazine efforts. Considering themselves to be a ‘virgin’ to the business, both the young entrepreneurs decided to name the new company Virgin Records. Starting from a London commune, Virgin Group today has an annual revenue of over £19.5 billion. The success of Virgin Records allowed Branson to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England.

The first ever record produced by Virgin Records was also an instant smash and Mike Oldfield’s single “Tubular Bells” stayed on the UK charts for 247 weeks. In the following years, Branson signed other aspiring musical groups to the label, including the Sex Pistols, The Culture Club, The Rolling Stones and Genesis. Virgin Records grew to become Virgin Music and one of the top six record companies in the world.

But, this was just the tip of the iceberg. By 1984, he decided to expand further and included the Voyager Group travel company to his cap. He added the Virgin Atlantic airline and a series of Virgin Megastores in 1984. But Branson’s iceberg was also hit by the Titanic. In a span of a decade, by 1992, Virgin was suddenly struggling to stay financially afloat.

Despite that, Richard Branson did not lose hope. He launched Virgin Radio in 1993 followed by a second record company V2 in 1996. In 1997, he launched the Virgin Trains which became the most criticised operator on the railways within a year. 1998 saw the birth of the Virgin Mobile. The Virgin Galactic an airline that will operate in space was then launched in 2004. The Virgin Active UK gym chain took shape in 2005. In 2015, the Virgin Voyages was announced which was supposed to be a new cruise line. Virgin cruise ships are set to debut in 2020 and are designed to hold 2,800 guests and a crew of 1,150 people.

Slowly but surely, the Virgin group was a part of 35 countries around the world, with nearly 70,000 employees. The company handles affairs in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe, South Africa and beyond.

Richard Branson has set new goals for himself every step of the way challenging norms, breaking records and inspiring people to go the extra mile. Knighted for his services to entrepreneurship in 1999, he resides on his private island, the Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, contributing to humanitarian services whenever possible and addressing important issues in the world with the same enthusiasm and vigor.

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Inside T-Hub: India’s Launchpad for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Aerial view of T Hub Hyderabad

Imagine a building that’s not just a structure but a buzzing ecosystem. A space where startups, corporations, universities, and investors come together to create the future. This isn’t science fiction; it’s T-Hub, India’s largest innovation hub, and it’s rewriting the rules of entrepreneurship.

T-Hub isn’t just about workspaces. It’s a launchpad for ambitious dreams. They’ve empowered over 2,000 startups, turning ideas into thriving businesses. Think funding woes? T-Hub’s got your back, connecting entrepreneurs with angel investors and government grants. Need a mentor to guide you through the rough patches? T-Hub boasts a network of 2,000 mentors ready to share their wisdom.

T-Hub’s vision extends beyond startups. Here’s a glimpse into what makes T-Hub special:

  • From Seed to Scale: Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur with a bright idea or a scaling startup ready to take on the world, T-Hub has programs to support you. From the “seed-accelerator stage” Lab32 program to the “early-stage technology startups” RubriX program, T-Hub provides the tools and guidance needed to thrive.
  • Corporate Muscle: Innovation isn’t just for startups. T-Hub bridges the gap between startups and established corporations like Facebook, Uber, and Boeing. This collaboration allows startups to tap into corporate expertise and resources, while corporations benefit from the agility and fresh perspectives that startups bring.
  • Funding Powerhouse: T-Hub is more than just an idea incubator; it is also a reality maker. Through initiatives like T-Angel and the Digital India Scaleup Program, T-Hub connects startups with high-net-worth individuals, angel investors, and government funding sources.
  • Global Ambitions: Thinking Beyond Borders? T-Hub has you covered. With partnerships across the globe, from the UK government to La Trobe University, T-Hub helps Indian startups access international markets and provides foreign startups with a foothold in India.

And it doesn’t stop there. T-Hub 2.0, their new colossal campus, is a testament to their ambition. This behemoth is not just the world’s largest technology incubator; it’s a microcosm of innovation itself. Universities find a home here, churning out future tech leaders. Foreign partnerships open doors to international markets for Indian startups. It’s a melting pot of ideas, cultures, and expertise, all focused on creating a brighter tomorrow.

T-Hub’s story is far from over. They’re aiming to empower a staggering 20,000 startups in the next five years. With their focus on internationalization and capacity building, they’re poised to become a global hub for innovation. So, if you’re an entrepreneur with a dream, T-Hub might just be the launchpad that takes you to the stars.

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5 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women

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5 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women,Startup Stories,5 Women Who Founded India’s Most Popular Startups,Five Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women,5 Indian startups with women founders,Top 5 Women Startup Founders In India,5 Most successful Women Entrepreneurs in India

The workplace has undergone massive changes in the last century.  At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, any workplace was dominated by men while the women were delegated to run the homes.  However, with the advent of the internet and new and exciting technologies, workplaces have undergone a tectonic shift.  Women are no longer comfortable staying at home and are instead opting to lead teams and organisations.  As every year passes, we get closer to true gender equality, women have proven time and again that they are equally capable to get the job done if not better in some instances.  Names like Wolfe Herd (Bumble founder,) Kylie Jenner     (Kylie Cosmetics founder,)  Masaba Gupta (Masaba clothing label founder) are just some of the names who are known for leading world famous brands with their unique style of leadership. 

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we bring to you five women founders who run world famous and successful startups.

1) Upasana Taku-MobiKwik

If you are an Indian and are used to doing online shopping, more often than not at the time of payment, you would be directed to a payment gateway.  One of these gateways would normally be MobiKwik.  The startup is a well known name in the digital payments and digital wallet space.  MobiKwik was founded by Upasana Taku in 2009, who prior to founding MobiKwik used to work with PayPal.  Today Upasana Taku is also in charge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik.

2) Richa Kar-Zivame

An enthusiastic MBA student, Richa Kar, developed an online lingerie shopping platform in the year 2011.  Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a valuation of more than $ 100 million.  The brilliant idea for her own lingerie business came to light when Richa tracked Victoria’s Secret’s sales, who was one of her clients when she was working at SAP.  She observed the lingerie sales figures reached peaks overseas but, Indian women were not provided with the similar innerwear.  While Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, she realized the social embarrassment in India surrounding lingerie shopping.  Today Richa Kar could be credited with destigmatising the uneasiness surrounding lingerie shopping in India.

3) Falguna Nayar-Nykaa

After a long stint as an investment banker, Falguni Nayar founded Nykaa.com in the year 2013. An online one stop shop for beauty products from Indian and international brands, Nykaa changed the world of online shopping.  Who would have ever thought buying makeup online would be so easy? Falguni Nayar proved many critics wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.

ALSO READ: Zivame: Founding Story

4) Sabina Chopra-Yatra.com

Yatra.com is a popular Indian website for making flight and hotel bookings.  Sabina Chopra was instrumental in identifying the potential for travel commerce in India and people moving towards cheaper or easier travel.  By the time, people started looking to make bookings, Sabina made sure Yatra.com was already in place.  Sabina was the former Head of India Operations of eBookers, which is also an online travel company based in Europe.  Along with this, she was also working with Japan Airlines which further adds to her experience in the travel industry.

5) Rashmi Sinha-SlideShare

SlideShare allows people to upload and access their presentations online.  While this feature is presently available everywhere, SlideShare was one of the first players in making this happen.  Rashmi Sinha was one of the founders of the presentation sharing platform SlideShare.  The company became so successful that in 2012, LinkedIn acquired the company for an amount of $100 million.

Let us know in the comments if you know any other wonderful women who have become leaders of their right or have started up and are doing extraordinary things.  We at Startup Stories wish a wonderful Women’s Day to all the women in the world who are changemakers.

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Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?

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If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something.  There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you.  Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes.  The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.

These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing.  Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more.  Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost.  Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.  

Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements.  Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up.  If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”  

ALSO READ: How Digital Marketing Is Impacted Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition.  This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing.  Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing.  Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”

There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms.  Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.  

Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present.  Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics.  We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)”  Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort.  The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions.  Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools.  Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.

With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset.  The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.

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