Episode 103 / February 7, 2021

Influencer Marketing with Viraj Sheth, Founder of Monk Entertainment

42 min

Episode 103 / February 7, 2021

Influencer Marketing with Viraj Sheth, Founder of Monk Entertainment

42 min

About the Episode

In this episode, we chat with Viraj Sheth, Co-founder, Monk Entertainment and the man behind one of the fastest-growing Influencer marketing agencies in India.

At the age of 24, Viraj started his entrepreneurial journey with his college senior Ranveer Allahbadia who is better known as BeerBiceps on social media.

In this episode, catch Viraj talking about starting Monk Entertainment, getting their first few clients, achieving their current scale, working with companies like Nykaa Men, MamaEarth, and much more.

For anyone looking to explore influencer marketing, this conversation would be of great value. From building an audience by sharing about your niche, to having a long term vision when working with a brand, this podcast will guide you through it all.

Notes –

01:14 – Starting Monk Entertainment with Ranveer Allahbadia

06:33 – Working part-time on acquiring clients and Quitting a stable job

08:07 – Growing the startup at the age of 25

10:11 – Current scale at Monk-E

15:35 – Building monetization & business model with creators

19:39 – What differentiates them from other Influencer Marketing Agencies?

22:16 – Setting the right practices for influencers while interacting with brands

23:40 – How is India’s influencer market space evolving?

26:27 – Segmenting creators

30:51 – Two rules to grow the audience on Twitter

35:22 – Structuring and organizing the workflow at Monk-E

39:50 – Learnings from Ranveer Allahbadia


Read the full transcript here:

Siddhartha 0:00

Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia. Welcome to the 100x Entrepreneur podcast. Today, we have with us Viraj Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment. Viraj co-founded Monk along with popular social media celebrity Ranveer Allahbadia in January 2018. Monk Entertainment is an influencer marketing and social media management firm with clients such as Nykaa man, Wow skin science for men, Sony Music, Groww, and flo mattress. Today, we will talk about Viraj’s journey as a young entrepreneur and his remarkable stints in the digital content industry. Welcome, Viraj.


Viraj 0:39

Thank you so much, Siddhartha. Appreciate you having me on the podcast.


Siddhartha 0:45

It’s a pleasure to have you and you know, we would like to start with how did you meet Ranveer? And how did you both decide to team up to form Monk entertainment?


Viraj 0:55

Right. So this is usually a very interesting story always because this is also my first question to the founders or co-founders I meet. Because, as a founder, you know, how pivotal and important it is to find, you know, partner, co-founder, you could build something with and I feel my personal two cents on this is usually, build with someone, you know, personally, or, you know, have been around with socially as well. And with Ranveer, we were in the same college. It’s a classic, you know, people are either batchmates or a couple of years, juniors to seniors. So he was two years senior to me in college. But we were still friends. And we had worked on a couple of projects together on some internships together in college as well, that’s how we built a rapport. That’s how we got to know each other. And we realized that, hey, why don’t we start something together. So once he had graduated, I still had two years left in completing my degree. And he took that time to build his YouTube channel. He had built it to about 100,000 subscribers, and that’s when we re-connected. And we met and he was just like, Hey, you know, this is what’s happening. I feel like brands will probably start approaching, but I don’t know how to negotiate or speak to them. I don’t want to, can you possibly take this up for me? And I was like, Yeah, sure. I didn’t have anything to lose. It was my last semester in college. I had applied for masters. I had one job in hand already. And I didn’t have any attendance issues. So I was this like, okay, what’s the worst that could happen? I’d be rejected by all these brands, but I would still have a learning curve, then. And that’s exactly what happened. It worked out very well. Brands started understanding. It was around February or March 2017. That is when I would say was sort of, you know, the inflection point where brands actively started considering influencer marketing, and realizing that, hey, it’s actually also the creators who we need to start working with, and not just, you know, keep spending money on your Facebook ads, your traditional advertisements, bollywood celebrities, cricketers, and all of that. And that’s what happened. I cold emailed a bunch of brands, I didn’t know that there was a proper system for that, I was just emailing the CEOs of massive companies. In many cases, I didn’t get any replies for months at an end. And I just realized that hey actually these kind of calls are being taken by other creative agencies or the PR agencies that these brands or companies have appointed, and I need to reach out to them in order to make this pitch. And that’s what happened. It was a massive learning curve for me 1000s of cold emails later, we landed a bunch of brands, we realized, okay, this has the potential to become a steady source of income. And once I started doing it fairly well with Ranveer, we realized, Hey, why don’t we start a company together and fill this gap up? Because there was no representation for digital creators back then. The representation was only happening with Bollywood stars and cricketers. That’s it right? And that’s when we realized, okay, maybe we could plug in a gap here in the market and, you know, during the process, make decent profit. And that’s how it started. We realized, okay, cool. I was still doing, had I taken up that job that I had landed during my engineering days. Because even though I come from a Gujrati family, my parents were not very pro business initially, because, I mean, imagine a 20 some 21 year old going to them and saying that, I want to leave my stable job and do something on YouTube. They’re going to think I’m stupid. And that’s exactly what happened. So what I did is I told them, okay, like, I’ll do the job for a few months, the day I make enough money from this business, I will quit my job and take this up full time. And I had the job for about three months. And I put in my papers in three months time. So that’s, that’s how it all happened.


Siddhartha 5:28

And how has been the journey? Since you know, quitting your job like, if you can share over a period of the next two years? How did it go?


Viraj 5:37

Um, it’s been fantastic, man. I mean, so even during the job, the thing was, I hadn’t stopped work, right. So I used to, I used to not take my lunch breaks. And I used to just get on calls with clients. I used to be in the washroom sometimes and taking and making some calls, and do to an extent where my managers in the companies just took me to the side, and they’re like, who do you speak to so much? And I, I didn’t know there, there was an intervention going to happen. So I was really flustered. And funnily enough, I could have, I could have said, My girlfriend, or my friend, or whatever, I said, my mom. And like, and they clearly didn’t believe that. So anyway, that’s how things happened about once we started the company, once I joined full time in November 2017, roughly, I feel like, you know, we sort of knew already, what we were going to do, right, we already have had proof of concept with one talent. And we just had to scale that. And that’s when we realized that Okay, cool. There is we are onto something here. So that’s how it started. We started with the talent of sentation talent management wing. And then we scaled to other aspects as well, we started an influencer marketing unit, where we realized that more than creators, it was actually brands that needed more guidance and help with who they need to work with. Because the PR companies that they were working with had no idea about it. They were fantastic in landing them coverage in newspapers and magazines, but they had no idea about how to work with influencers or content creators. And that’s when we realized, okay, this is a much bigger market. And it’s also the brands that have much deeper pockets. Right? They are the ones who are going to commission massive budgets to agencies, and lead plans from there on it, that’s when we realized, okay, this is actually what we need to also focus on a lot more. So we started that. And then about a year down the line, we realized that, okay, while we’re doing this business, we don’t want to just become agents in the market, we want to give creative inputs as well. I mean, what stopping us from becoming the next Ogilvy or Leo Burnett or whatnot, right? At the end, you you need, you’re going to come to us to get the talent, or the actors or the creators or whatever, what you are providing as services, creative inputs. And that’s something that we feel like over a certain period of time and grooming and effort, we could build in house as well. And that’s when we started the social media and video production unit in the organization as well.


Siddhartha 8:32

Fantastic journey and you have accomplished so much at such a young age, right? You’re probably 24 right now.


Viraj 8:38

I turned 25 in October.


Siddhartha 8:42

I started my first company when I was 25.


Viraj 8:47

That’s crazy. It’s sort of the same for me. I just I feel like I’m 2 years a little early. But that’s helped me, it’s worked both ways for me honestly, one is because I started a company right out of college without having any formal job experience, or having any sort of an idea of how the corporate world works, or even the startup world works, right. Which is why I tend to fall back on the advice of either books or speaking to fellow entrepreneurs, who have already been there done that, especially in the media world. I was in fact speaking to Varun Duggirala from the Glitch yesterday, he runs his own podcast, advertising is dead and that’s exactly what I told him that I was actually looking to get in touch with you because you have had a similar path where you were an engineer, started a media company, and you don’t need all of the blocks come together. That’s where I’m at in my life right now. So that’s, that’s what’s happened, in a sense, but in the terms of time, I have a lot of advantage. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, which I know that you know, tomorrow if I were to start a completely different startup, I would know where not to go and what not to do. So, that’s fantastic.


Siddhartha 10:10

Can you share about the current scale of Monk Entertainment, like in terms of revenues, number of employees, and then number of brands you work with, or influencers even? You work with?


Viraj 10:22

Right, sowe’re about 45 to 50 team members right now. We scaled significantly in the last year or so when last one and a half years or so when we started building the social media unit as well. So we have about four main domains. One is style management. The other is influencer marketing. We have social media, and we have video production. These are four beings of businesses that we built over the last one and a half, two years. In terms of the kind of brands we have, we have about two on and off, we’re working with about 75-100 odd brands. And these days, some of these are on retainer basis. Some of these are on pure play project basis, it could be a one off video they wanted to do with one talent, or it could be like 15 videos they wanted to do across YouTube. Like say some of our recent clients could be someone like a CRED, we’ve been working a lot in the FinTech edtech space right now, especially with COVID, we had to pivot. Before pre COVID, we were working a lot with pure play consumer product brands. So you’re like Wow skin science, or Mamaearth, or Nykaa and the likes of those. But when COVID hit us all, we realized that, Hey, hold on, like Amazon stop deliveries, nothing was getting delivered. So it was a hard three months of two or three months of no revenues at all right. And we saw like a huge dip. We had to make provisions for that. And I’m just so grateful for having such a fantastic team, that they they took the journey with us, they’ve walked the walk with us. They were okay initially to take the big arch and we reinforced 100% salaries again from August onwards. So thankfully, we were completely digitally based. So, in a sense, COVID has only like, accelerated that growth for us, I would say, in a sense. And that’s when we realized, okay, let’s start working with FinTech and Edtech. Because they were the ones doing the work, they were the ones sponsoring the IPOs, they were the ones, you know, getting the big VC fundings. And they were the ones who would immediately need help with marketing, working with influencers and the likes of those, which is why we we tapped into the biggest of the biggest brands in in edtech, and fin tech into those two categories and started taking up their work. So that was a fantastic journey for us as well. In terms of influencers, we exclusively represent about 45 to 50 creators, we’re very specific about the kind of creators we pick. But in terms of the number of creators, we work with it easily like, like a few 1000s of creators who we’ve, you know, established contact with, given given campaigns brought money on the table to them, like lots of 1000s of traders over the period of the last three years. So, that’s how the journey has been. It’s, it’s fantastic. Revenue wise, we’re growing year on year. So that’s hopefully the plan, maybe in the next five years or so we become a multi million dollar business over time. And so the plan is at the moment because we’re an agency led business and it’s not like a completely tech dependent. It’s more for people led service led business. The goal is to ensure that our profit pipeline keeps growing because we’re not we’re not venture backed, we’re not funded. It’s a completely bootstrapped business. So yeah, the goal is always to ensure that we keep our costs low, even two, three years down the line, but we focus on quality. You know, if it comes to working with certain client that needs an extra bit of an effort, and, you know, money infusion in terms of production, we won’t be shy in enabling that because we know that that’s going to come back to us 10x. So that’s, that’s what I feel is working for us at the moment.


Siddhartha 14:50

Viraj, you mentioned that you work exclusively with 75 to 80 influencers and on a large scale basis with 1000 influencers. What’s your business model with them?


Viraj 15:02

So, with the exclusive creators, we have a fixed commission fee that we charge. And the reason we call it exclusive is all the, all the deals that go through are through us. So we have access to the emails, and it’s a completely transparent system. But the exclusive creators also have additional benefits. Like we have them with PR, we have them in events, we have them with collaborations, we have them with all sorts of backend support. If, you know, say, hypothetically, your account gets hacked tomorrow, on YouTube, Instagram, we have immediate access to the management and we can ensure that we expedite that issue and take it up quickly. So a lot of those basic things which the creator usually has a headache about, and sometimes they’re non revenue generating for them, and they shouldn’t worry about honestly, is something we look at. But our core focus, of course, stays in the fact that we want to bring more and more business for them. Because usually Siddhartha, you know, it’s been a notion that an artists always performs better when he’s hungry, that’s actually just a very Bollywood and filmy way of looking at things. But in today’s time, if the artist doesn’t have money in the bank, he or she won’t be able to create good content, they’ll always be anxious about what’s the next paycheck going to come from. And we don’t want the creator to be in that state ever. So monetization for us, always remains the biggest, like, biggest value add that we give to creators. So that’s how we work with exclusive creators, with the creators that we just bring business with, and are not exclusive with us, those are creators, we will leverage or we work with when we’re directly speaking to brands. And we’re enabling influencer marketing conversations with these creators. So apart from our roster now, say if I don’t have 10, automobile creators, but I’m working with Castrol or a ciat tyres, I will reach out to those 10 creators and say that, hey, this is how we want to promote our brand, we will give the creative thought to it as well. And then, you know, the creator imbibes that brief into their own content. So again, I feel like one big mistake that brands usually make is they make it a very brand led idea and pitch, right. Whereas if you’re working with influencers, it has to be influencer LED and the brand has to be integrated within that content piece. And that’s something that’s a bridge, that’s a gap we’re trying to bridge essentially through our organization as well, where we know exactly how creator things because, again, I started the organization with talent representation, right. So I know how the Creator is exactly thinking when a brand is approaching them. And that’s the approach I take to the brand as well saying that, hey, let’s not tell them to mention 5000 of our USPS pick three USPS which matter the world to you. And let’s put those in the content piece. So, yeah, that’s essentially how we work with influencers.


Siddhartha 18:05

And how do you differentiate yourself, you know when 2018 you started there, there was no mainstream influencer representation of management for more agency, but today, they have a lot of strata since you know, youtube have started promoting influencers


Viraj 18:24

That is very true. So honestly, you you rightly said that, especially with influencer marketing companies, they’re the new fad. And it is a new wave, because the entry barrier is so low, tomorrow, a 16 year old can, you know might have two influencer friends, and might pick up the phone on one brand locally, you know, and say that hey, Mein aapko do influencer laake dunga 5 5 hazaar rupaay mein or woh aapka brand promote karenge And that guy can go on to say he has an influence marketing agency, right. But a couple of things that differentiate us one is the scale that we operate at, we’re working with the biggest of brands. And while doing that, we’re also working with startups a lot, the likes of a wow skin science or Mamaearth or a flow mattress or all of these guys, we worked with them when they were on their seed stage or a series A at best. And that’s when and we were working at very low budgets to start with at that. Now we see the the kind of way they’ve scaled with us now. So we like to grow with companies that are doing promising work. I know that these guys are the ones that are going to, you know, sort of be the next P&Gs and HULs in the next 20 years. So if I want to, you know, sort of be a fantastic creative agency over the next 10 15 20 years and if I say that, hey, why can’t we be the next Ogilvy’s or Leo Burnett, I need to work with clients that are HULs\s and P&G, as of tomorrow, so, that’s the approach we’ve taken. And we’ve built very strong ties with these brands, always. So that’s one with the creators that we are in touch with, we worked with every big creator that India has to offer, right? So it just makes our life easier that okay, if I know these guys right at the top, we could bring on or associated with literally every creator, in that industry or within that range moving forward. So if you have access to do that, as well. And most of the thing, the fact that we represent creators exclusively, that helps our case a lot, because it’s like, you’re getting every deal to come through you would be would be fantastic, say as from VCs point of view, right? If you were to say that, okay, every founder that ever builds a startup has to, you know, give us the first right of refusal for funding. That would be a fantastic loss for a VC, right? That, okay, for example, I say that, okay, I want exclusive rights to every startup that Kunal Shah builds tomorrow, for example, that’s something a VC would take a lot of pride in. And that’s sort of what helps us in a way that every deal that comes through to the Creator, is what we have access to first. And we close the deal first, through that, we also get access, okay, so for example, if an Amazon reaches out to one of my creators, okay, I know that now I am directly speaking to marketing person at Amazon, I am going to tell them, okay, I will pitch you 50 other creators along with this, and I will build a complete campaign for you. And that’s where it’s mainly just access, that helps us a lot in general in the market. And just one is, of course, also speed in the agency led business and in service based business, speed is of such prime importance to us. So, speed is something we really pride ourselves on as well. And just giving very quality, service man, like just keeping in touch with people. And just those basics of doing any sort of business is what sort of becoming the differentiator, we don’t have a crazy moat, like any of these tech companies would. But I just feel like these are certain like differentiators, which are very lacking in the business, we give extreme importance to transparency when it comes to exclusive creator contracts, something that has never been done previously in the whole industry. There have been cases where creators have felt cheated, they felt like they were put on slave contracts, essentially. And a lot of these creators come from tier two tier three backgrounds. And they have no idea about what these contracts are, what the legalities of these are, they just feel like, oh, a company from Bombay or Delhi is approaching them. Haan woh kuch bol rahe hai toh achha hi karenge humare liye and they just signed it blindly. So that’s what we have sort of tried to inculcate we have told these creators specifically, please, first go to a lawyer and review this contract, only then will we let you sign it. So, those are certain practices thatwe’ve incorporated in a business.


Siddhartha 23:20

How do you think influencer marketing will evolve from here from right in 2021?


Viraj 23:29

So I feel Siddhartha so far, it’s always been these one of deals that have happened, right? And Amazon or Flipkart, or whatever. And fad comes to you and says, Okay, why don’t you do one video for us on youtube or Instagram or Twitter? I feel like that’s the next step has already come through now. And it’s been going on since about a year or two years where the brands are now properly doing long form contracts with creators. They’re doing 5 10 20 odd videos in a year with these creators because they want to be associated with their audiences consciously. And it’s also a better deal for the creator in the sense that they don’t have to work with five different competing brands. In order to make ends meet. They also consistently represent one brand in that category and that helps both the brand and the creator right. So that has already happened. Long term deals are here to stay. Ambassador endorser level these are already happening now. In the influencer space, which was only reserved for cricketers or Bollywood stars previously, right. Every brand used to think I want a big Massey face. They used to think Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Amir Khan, right. But now they’re actively thinking you which are the top YouTubers that I could go to, which are the top creators I could speak to. So that’s what’s happening. Besides that, I feel like then this has been chatter of since a long while. That this long form of sociation will now move on from just cash led deals to equity lead deals, where a lot of brands will start considering creators as partners in the very true sense of it, where they will start offering maybe hybrid deals where this part cash part equity, or just purely equity deals basis, the kind of deliverables that the creator starts giving them. And the issue so far has been that while certain brands have been open to offering that creators at the moment are thinking, from very short term perspective, they’re like, Okay, why am I missing out on cash for doing these XYZ amount of deliverables, I have rent to pay, I have bills to pay. When that barrier gets solved for a lot of these creators, and it has been for a lot of the bigger creators, they will be able to have more skin in the game and think that, okay, hold on, let me just take a punt on a long form on a quality tech startup, for example, or quality consumer startup. And let me lead the way to giving them distribution. If I give them more distribution, if I pump them more in my videos, they will grow as a company, which means that the value of my equity in the company will also grow substantially over a period of time. So, that’s how I feel we’re headed towards


Siddhartha 26:28

And how do you segment the market of creators? For example, in our conversation, you mentioned there are big creators, there are small creators and medium creator, is there a parameter that let’s say, this creator has more than 1 million YouTube subscribers, for he’s a big creator.


Viraj 26:47

So this has been a grey area since a while honestly, there is no standardization to this process so far, you know, but we do internally have certain tiers that, you know, there will be nano creators, there will be micro creators, macro creators, extremely premium category A creators. And that’s how we segmented so now your category A will be people who have bluetick on multiple platforms, people who have say, a million odd followers or subscribers across platforms, people who are at the top of their games in their own categories. to for example, now, if someone in the self improvement or motivation space has only 500k subscribers, there is a possibility they could be Category A because they may not have as big an audience as the fourth highest or fifth highest creator in the comedy space. Because comedy is what people actually consume on internet. The biggest comedy creator might have 10 million subscribers, and the fifth biggest might have, you know, 5 million subscribers. But that fit guy is still not at the top of his category in that space. So, it’s very vague. It depends on what kind of brand you’re speaking to what are their requirements basis, that is when we categorize and figure out okay, this is a category creator for you. This is a micro creator for you, this is an innovator for you.


Siddhartha 28:20

Let’s say Ankur Wariko and Tanmay Bhat. So which category would you place them in?


Viraj 28:27

So, Tanmay Bhat would definitely be cat A because he has multi platform presence. He’s, I think, verified on on all platforms, he gets a good amount of viewership coverage across our platform. His PR is very strong. He’s been featured on all of the biggest like debates, panels, whatnot. So, Tanmay Bhat definitely is one of the biggest like creators in the Indian ecosystem. Ankur Warikoo while as an entrepreneur, he stays fairly premium as a creator, I think he’s getting there. So while a brand would ask me, okay, can you get me see if it’s an edtech brand that reaches out to me and says that, Okay, I need like, two premium category creators, I need two creators within 100 K to 1 million, and I need to creators below 100K, I would put Ankur Warikoo in the second category where he’s at about 100 K to 1 million subscribers. But I would give him preference over someone else in the same category and same numbers because he is already educated about the kkinds of things he’s speaking about. So for example, if it was a FinTech brand, I would say okay, definitely pick Ankur Warikoo over someone who might have even 500 k subscribers, because Ankur Warikoo has been an entrepreneur himself. And that is much more value to his words than someone who’s just talking and talking in Hindi or talking in some regional language and has just been able to simplify things and able to amass more followers. So I would suggest that Okay, Ankur Warikoo is here so if he’s talking about Equity and ESOPS for example? I would say that okay, you know, you need to work with Ankur Warikoo because he’s been there done that.


Siddhartha 30:09

Yeah. And you yourself, you know, have a massive following on Twitter, for example, you have 30,000 followers. Right? How did you build it like for any creator, who aspires to be the next Viraj on Twitter? What is the step for him to go from the first zero to 10,000 Twitter followers into the next 30,000?


Viraj 30:36

All right. I feel like one is I was extremely lucky to be surrounded by very famous people. So there was already top of the mind recall because they either saw me in some Instagram posts or some YouTube, video, things like that. So, I also have about 60,000 odd followers on Instagram. So I was able to build a decent following on Instagram by just uploading Instagram stories and posting some posts once in a while. And that’s that’s sort of what helped me with Twitter. Initially, what I leveraged again, is, I sent a lot of my followers from Instagram to Twitter. So I feel like maybe 510 percent of my audience is from Instagram. But besides that, I feel like Twitter is something I actually take credit for, in growing in terms of audience because I have grown that purely in terms of the basis of content that I’ve been uploading. I’ve realized two rules. One is tweet about your niche. Because when you tweet about your niche, you will be attracting the very quality followers, you will be attracting the right kind of people who will follow you. Like for example, an example for a niche tweet for me was I was tweeting about content, influencer marketing and startups. So one of the tweets I put out about startups, you know, was that we over glamorize startups too much, not every startup has to change the world. Some startups could only be billed for a profit basis, which will, in fact, you know, help the financial crisis of a lot of households. It will give financial liberty to a lot of households. And that is okay, that the purpose of that startup has been served. And that got a lot of applause. And I remember Kunal Bahl from Snapdeal. He retweeted that, and he followed me after that tweet. That’s when I realized that you know, when you’re tweeting very niche stuff, you might not get as much reach, but you will get the quality follows. As opposed to that, if you want to get the massive followers also, once in a while, tweet about very relatable stuff. Okay, it could just be something like I tweeted something like, Saturday afternoon naps can have the ability to heal your soul. And that’s true. I mean, that’s true for everyone, right? It’s not specific to only startup people. It’s you, me, our grandparents, the kid. Right, whoever is on Twitter, so I do a healthy mix of both upload tweets about your industry. So people from your industry start following you. Because I’ve been tweeting a lot about startups and my learnings as a co founder. I see a lot of startup folks, a lot of tech Twitter has followed me in the past six or 12 odd months, which is why I’ve also been able to land a lot of business way surprisingly or not, I’ve been able to land a lot of business, I’ve been able to land a lot of gigs, like coming onto your podcast, for example, purely through through those kinds of tweets. And I’ve also done very basic, you humorous tweets or very relatable tweets, which will just bring everyone else to the fore as well. And then they will just browse through my content and see, okay, this guy also talks about this. So that’s interesting, and they will stay back for that. So I feel like this is a route I personally take for, for Twitter growth.


Siddhartha 34:18

And, you know, what role consistency plays in that?


Viraj 34:23

Man a lot. I’m actually so I don’t pressurise myself to be consistent because I am not a creator first. I’m a founder first, I’m an entrepreneur first. So I just tell myself that okay, if I have thought and with Twitter it’s much more immediate right? You don’t have to set up your camera. You don’t have to edit your video. You just have to put out your thoughts. And that’s something I feel like I I’m very comfortable with. I was just keen on writing previously. So I had a blog and things like that very basic stuff. I had a penchant for writing I feel and this just comes very naturally. Twitter as a platform is something I personally love, because it’s my thoughts that are going out. And I have a lot of thoughts through the day. So I just feel like it’s become like my personal diary, personal journal, which I’m publishing to the world. So consistency is very important, but I don’t beat myself to it. Maybe there will be some days where I’m getting 10 tweets a day, there are some days where for 10 days, I have not tweeted anything. So I just let I also feel like, while consistency is important, quality also is so don’t just trash tweet. Think that we tweet, and then post it. So I feel that’s that’s what my formulas


Siddhartha 35:45

Viraj, let’s talk about, you know, the chemistry between you and your co-founder Ranveer. Right. So I understand that you work on Monk full time, whereas Ranveer splits his time between the various media properties, how do you both manage it?


Viraj 36:02

Right. So initially, I was looking completely into the business aspect of things. And then Ranveer was helping more creatively with his network and things like that. And then slowly, we realized that, you know, it’s better if Ranveer focuses his energies on Beer Biceps. And, you know, because that’s like, the more it that property also grows, the more Monk entertainment will also grow. And we realized that I wanted to keep my core still to be business right to be landing more sales and doing business development, because that’s something I was very passionate about, and I was fairly good at. And what I used to sort of hate is all the operational part of it, the legal part of it all. So you know, it also took me quite some time to realize that hey business is not just about bringing sales, but also servicing it well, ensuring that all your legalities are in place, all your payroll systems are in place, your team members are super happy with running the company things like that. And that became of super difficult job to maintain, which is when Jhalak Rawal our COO joined the organization. And she brought in a lot more structure to the company as well, where it was not just like before that it was essentially just a frat house, a bunch of dudes trying to run a business. They’re bringing in sales, but you know, they’re just like, the office is a mess. There is no proper structure, we’ll just be orderly, there’s no contracts, we’re working on pure-play relationship type spaces, which is still the way I like to work. But you know, I’ve faced some setbacks, because of that nature of mine. And we realized that it’s best in some aspects of a startup, we need to adopt certain corporate structures, because that’s the perfect balance. You can’t be saying that you’re a startup and just be doing everything on a whim, right? You need to have proper structures in place. And that’s when she came in. And she helped put a lot of these processes into place. Everything from, you know, legal, HR, finance, things like that is what she like, are told to clean as well. And in short, that, you know, we were like once the money infusion happened, things were being run smoothly. So, so that’s that’s what happened. Now we have a bunch of like key members in the organization who are helping with different parts of business, we have an extremely well experienced PR professional, as well, who’s got about 15 years of experience in the space. And with something like PR you need someone who’s that experienced because it purely works on relations. And someone like us, we’ve only been in the industry for two or three years. So I realized that it’s important to fill in those gaps. And one big learning I’ve had as an entrepreneur is that, you know, every entrepreneur starts off thinking that he or she will be the one man army, and army and do it all by themselves. And they only end up exhausting themselves. And they end up not running the startup in a very well function sustainable way. My biggest advice is to ensure that your legal finance, HR is very sorted before you make any big decisions or if you you’re trying to scale at that level. So ensure that that is in place beforehand.


Siddhartha 39:30

And then, over a period of the last two and half years working as a co founder, what have you learned from Ranveer and what he has learned really, you know, adopted from you.


Viraj 39:43

I’ve learned that one big treat that he has is he always backs himself a lot. Come what may doesn’t matter. He might have had the biggest disappointment in his life professionally on that day. He will not let that dampen your spirit at all. He will be like don’t worry that we have 1000s of opportunities that will come our way, we just need to keep at it. And one big thing I’ve learned from him is to not panic. And that guy, I have seen him through the worst of situations. Even though internally he might be like breaking apart, but he will never show it on his face. And I think that’s a very key sign of a leader or an entrepreneur, right? You don’t even know you’re feeling pain internally, you do want to pass it on to your team members. Because you want to be able to stand solve it from at your level itself so that it maybe doesn’t like go down onto the team or trickle down to the team. And that’s something I’ve learned big time from him. I’m not sure what he’s learned from me, but I think just, it’s possibly just a lot more patience. And a lot more okay, things can be dealt with, with tact as well. So we play we used to be used to have a lot of the good cop bad cop situations. Every once in a while when we used to go into brand meetings where he used to play the good cop and I used to be the angry agent or manager and Ranveer will be the bad cop. And that partnership has worked very well for us previously.


Siddhartha 41:20

Thank you so much Viraj. It has been a pleasure knowing your life experiences on the podcast and thanks.


Viraj 41:27

Thanks so much Siddhartha. Lovely chatting with you some fantastic questions. And that helped me unravel a lot of stories that I feel like I’ve never put out on some other podcasts. Thanks. Thanks for that.


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