Business & Life Success Lessons Learnt from an Ice Cream Brand
Story of a big digital success and important lessons learnt from the failure of offline operations
It all began in 2008 when I started my college journey. As I didn’t find much value in formal engineering studies, I thought of devoting my time to something more experiential alongside. And there I started my digital journey.
Right after my schooling, I have always been persuaded by those things which gave something experiential and I learned this lesson from one of my mentors i.e. Indian Armed Forces after cracking NDA and getting recommended from SSB twice.
From driving a car, breaking myself from 105 kg to 75 kg, flying an airplane microlith Zen Stop 701 in Air wing during my college days; I wanted to learn & do something experiential for my career too. And there my interest and little knowledge of technology & digital motivated me to start my 1st website www.explainoexpo.com during my 1st year of engineering to quench my thirst of doing experiential for my career. I was learning amazing things from awesome people who did wonderful work online by delivering a great value to the people and generating tons of wealth and that too without any formal higher education. This made me more determined for the things I started, and I kept myself continuously learning, implementing the same and sharing that knowledge & expertise digitally with others after getting successful results.
When all this was going on, in my second year of engineering I thought to challenge myself more and by starting a bigger initiative with a higher mission. And, there I started my technology & digital company during the 2nd year of engineering. I was the only employee of the company without any office. I was the director, manager, salesman & peon. That was the point from where I never looked back and with all the efforts, blessings of the Almighty, my parents, my mentors and love & support of friends and all you people things have been growing each day and most importantly I personally have been growing everyday by defeating my own self.
It was mid-2012 when I graduated with the so-called professional degree ‘B. Tech’. By that time we were growing, we had an office with a few of the dedicated and rocking people as a part of the company. I still remember, post celebrating my birthday on 10th September, I realized that we can scale-up our company by boosting the SME business owners’ businesses (the heart and core of India). But in order to empower the unorganized and conventional business owners, we have to educate them and showcase a proof of digital transformation or business success using the power of digital media. Thus, for doing this I wanted a strong proof & case-study that speaks about the strength of digital marketing in scaling up the business.
For the sake of creating a success story that speaks about the power of digital in transforming conventional business owners, I started a new chapter from here (PRIMARY GOAL OF STARTING SMAKEN).
It was 25th September 2012 and I was waiting at MG Road Metro Station in Gurgaon in my car for one of my friends to arrive. I was listening ‘Summer of 69’ and thinking of any conventional business idea in which I do not have to do much in the making of the product and I can apply the digital media power to boost it to create that success case study. Suddenly an idea popped up in my mind for starting an ice-cream brand through which I can showcase the power of digital by establishing it as a brand & scaling it up. I called up one of my known ones who is an ice cream manufacturer and an OEM for Mother Dairy ice cream as well, and told him that I am planning to start an ice cream brand with my own concept & idea and if he can produce ice creams for me in my own brand’s packaging? He replied flawlessly, ‘Of Course!’ And at that very moment a new chapter under the Metro station started: “Smaken Ice Cream”, to showcase the power of digital marketing in making of a brand and scaling it up.
On the very next day, i.e. 26th September, the digitisation of ‘Smaken Ice Cream’ brand started by creating its Gmail id:
Thereafter I began the ideation of the brand and started working to setup a unique concept that would act as a hook for the people to try this new brand. From a business perspective, I also wanted to scale it up by franchising using digital media (this was the prime goal behind the birth of ‘Smaken’). With four days of continuous brainstorming, I acquired the concept:
“Smaken Ice Creams – Get the flavour of your mood” and with this the name also resonated as ‘Smaken’ signifies ‘Smack’ i.e. once you have it, you will get addicted to the same. And there I conceptualised the brand’s tag line as well ‘Smack It, Feel It…’
After setting up the concept, I started developing the logo, business card, packaging material creative, brand presentation and a website for the same. By 15th October 2012, I was all set with the above things.
And on 16th October 2012, I bought the domain www.justsmaken.com for hosting the newly built website of the brand.
Finally, the website went live on 18th October 2012. Below is the screenshot of the homepage:
Now it was the time to create some brand visibility and curiosity among the people that something exotic is about to arrive, and there I started creating all its social profiles, started with search engine marketing and social media marketing, applying my main-stream skills to boost a brand for realization of the mission to create a brand and scale it up using the power of digital marketing.
We started aggressive social media marketing of the brand and people started asking about the brand, and this was the time when I thought now we need to establish the 1st point of the brand physically.
Looking at the brand concept, the brand presentation, and all its digital fronts and representation, I got the 1st business interest automatically from someone known to me asking: “What is it all about? The concept sounds very nice. Can we do something as I also want to be a part of it?”
Based upon the business interest that I received because of creating the digital awareness, brand’s strong digital presentation & authenticity led to the launch of the 1st outlet of ‘Smaken Ice Cream’ in MG Road, Gurgaon.
In January 2013, the 1st outlet of ‘Smaken Ice Cream’ was launched by empowering the brand using digital media.
Below is the menu and the names of the flavors that I gave to various ice creams:
This was the 1st milestone which proved the power of digital marketing in creating a brand.
After cracking the 1st milestone of digital power, now I wanted to scale-up the growth of the “Smaken Ice Cream” brand by using the art of digital marketing.
I started doing the study of various franchise models and based upon 1 month of rigorous study, I planned the franchise model for ‘Smaken Ice Cream’ with almost no risk. I introduced the franchise offering in four models: a dedicated Smaken outlet, Smaken shop-in-shop model, Smaken Kiosk for banquets & confectionary stores and Smaken Cafe.
From April 2013, I started my Google Adwords campaign and a social media campaign of franchise lead generation and within a month I started receiving 1-2 franchise enquires every day.
Within a month of receiving the franchise enquiries, I sold the 1st franchise of ‘Smaken Ice Cream’ within Gurgaon.
Now, this is called the power of digital marketing: you started scaling up a brand which started 6 months ago directly by franchising it. Otherwise, it takes years and years of handwork for people to achieve a stage where they start thinking to franchise their brand.
After selling the 1st franchise then I sold the 2nd franchise, the 3rd franchise and within a year by march 2014 I had sold a total of nine franchises of the newly created Smaken brand in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bhiwadi, Kurkshetra and this was the growth hacking done by using the power of digital marketing.
With the growing brand visibility & penetration online, it automatically opened a new offline avenue for us: our products started getting acquired by 30 outlets of 24×7 convenience stores in Delhi NCR.
Thereafter to create a more brand hike we also introduced the official Song of ‘Smaken’ – Just listen and you will surely enjoy it!
I was certainly able to create and scale-up a brand by using the power of internet & digital marketing and my primary mission got accomplished. Goal Achieved Successfully!
The total revenue generated during this time:
I was happy because we were able to create a digital success story using which we could penetrate into the un-organised business vertical to empower the business owners with the power of digital marketing.
With all the above digital success and mastering the art of creating a brand using the power of digital, I also got million dollar learnings from my offline operation failures that happened while creating this success story using the power of digital.
After selling the nine franchises, when I looked back one day, I realized that we have created a digital success story which I wanted and for which this brand was created, but we missed on the operations part as I was not from the FMCG vertical and realized later that there are a lot of operational leakages that one has to control in order to sustain the FMCG business.
I was receiving calls every week for buying a new franchise but I paused everything after realizing the operational leakages.
Though, the primary goal with which the brand was started i.e. to prove the power of digital marketing in creating the brand and scaling it up, was accomplished successfully. But as per my Dharma and the life lessons that I have learnt from my mentors, it was time to learn important lessons from my operational failures which I did, and to strengthen & give full rights for running the brand solely to those nine franchise who gave their trust.
To protect the franchises’ interests and to ensure their trust, it took me 9 months to bring them in a self-operating mode with full control given to the respective franchises for future decision making.
The inception of Smaken was done with an aim to establish the very proof that digital media can play an instrumental role in creating big brands and scaling up business exponentially. I succeeded in achieving it and from that point onwards, I devoted myself in revolutionising the business owners with the power of technology and digital media.
- With self-clarity, a person can do wonders by using digital marketing as a powerful tool: from creating a new brand, its visibility, authenticity and scaling up the business; all this is possible through digital media.
- Creating a strong brand’s digital face before boosting yourself will help you to automatically convince your end user to become your client. Also, this helps in strengthening offline sales team as well.
- Digital media is the one of the keys to success but without having the knowledge or knowing the core of your operational areas you cannot sustain the success. In other words, the overall success is based upon two primordial pillars: “your entry & presentation” and “your delivery & sustainability”. Digital marketing helps you in taking care of the 1st pillar of success, i.e. ’entry & presentation’, and your commitment, quality & knowledge helps you in taking care of the 2nd pillar of success, i.e. ‘delivery & sustainability’.