The Pandemic did cast a shadow but the Nation opened up. Though 2021 was still a shaky year in so many ways, it was a definite improvement from 2020. What we as people did in 2021 was we celebrated the good things in life but in a cautious way.
As 2021 comes to an end, we at Medianews4U spoke to a few leading entrepreneurs Tarandeep Singh Sekhon, Marketing Director at KidZania India, Varun Duggirala – Content Creator, Podcaster, an Entrepreneur, and the Co-Founder – The Glitch, Advait Gupt, Co-Founder & CEO, Kulfi Collective, Mohit Bhasin, COO Keeda Media – Vitamin Stree, Pradeep Krishnakumar, Co-Founder and COO, Zouk, Kausshal Dugarr, Founder and CEO of Teabox and Sneh Jain, Managing Director, and Co-Founder, The Baker’s Dozen on how was their journey in 2021 and what were the lessons they learned from 2020.
Tarandeep Singh Sekhon, Marketing Director at KidZania India
2021 came with its own set of challenges – the amusement and theme park industry was hit with uncertainty and affected adversely due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, we at KidZania were constantly aligning and re-aligning strategies in tandem with the situation. We worked with faster turnaround time with lean teams – our resilience, agility and dynamism helping us sail through these times.
After a long wait, in March 2021, we finally opened our facilities, only to cease operations soon after due to the 2nd wave and consequent lockdown. Post that, in July 2021, we reopened our Delhi NCR park on weekdays as per local government protocols, while the Mumbai park reopened in October 2021. Generally, weekends garner substantial audiences while weekdays usually see parents working and children attending e-schools. However, our skepticism was put at ease – as we received an encouraging response, leading us to quickly onboarding more activity staff. Eventually, with operations permitted during the weekends, too, we soon marked 10k visitors in a month, and gradually beat our pre-COVID 2019 numbers on several fronts like Family Footfalls and Birthday Parties. Yet, footfalls from school visits have been affected due to the time it will take for schools to bounce back to normalcy. Additionally, our Brand Partnership vertical has been steadily growing. We have signed four leading brands during the pandemic and have been working with them to create unprecedented branded, immersive and interactive role-play experiences – that we will be launching soon in Mumbai and Delhi NCR.
With virtual fatigue at a peak, revenge entertainment/travel/outings are on the rise as families want to just step out into the real world. By 2022, KidZania aims to focus on continuing to provide world-class play and learning experiences for families in a safe and sanitized environment. Meanwhile, we are also witnessing a growing trend of phygital (a blend of physical and digital) in several sectors, including education. Likewise, we have been swiftly moving and adopting tech in our activities and seeking to offer a phygital learning experience to our visitors, yet keeping it authentic and interactive.
Varun Duggirala – Content Creator, Podcaster, an Entrepreneur, and the Co-Founder – The Glitch: 2021 has been a year of refining what I stand for as an individual, entrepreneur, and creator.
The last two years have been a defining moment of reflection and reassessment of how we operate as industries, professionals, and as human beings, and 2021 has been a period of building towards action and restarting. On a personal front, I’ve been able to refine what I genuinely want to build towards and project the same through how I create and communicate with the world around me as a Creator and entrepreneur. We’ve moved towards a hybrid existence with a life purpose at the center, and that’s become essential to operating.
In 2022 I see this trend grow even further and a movement from more of everything to a deeper focus on a few things being the mantra for the future. We’ve realized the excesses of our existence. In many ways, the business and creator landscape will move towards a more focussed approach of not doing too much and spreading wide and instead focus on clear focussed ways to grow, monetize and live.
Advait Gupt, Co-Founder & CEO, Kulfi Collective: In the year 2021, our three verticals, Supari Studios, Post Office, and Keeda Media, officially launched as Kulfi Collective. We’ve seen an increase in demand for online video across the board, and as a united network, we’re now able to tap into shared talent and technology to create high-quality online video content at scale. It’s been a year full of ups and downs. While it exceeded our business goals in many ways, it was also a year that put many of us to the test in more ways than one. We had the good fortune to generate some of our best work to date. Nonetheless, it was a year in which we learned the value of self-care and mental wellness.
We are quite optimistic and looking forward to the new year. As the world becomes more open, our top priority at Kulfi is to create a productive, healthy, and happy work environment for everyone. We’re working on a hybrid working model that provides employees the flexibility of remote work while also allowing for the collaborative environment of in-person encounters. We’re ecstatic about the potential and opportunity that web3 is presenting. There will be a greater emphasis on community building and engagement, particularly in areas such as gaming, cryptocurrency, music, gender, and sustainability.
Mohit Bhasin, COO Keeda Media – Vitamin Stree: In 2021, Vitamin Stree has been working on various intriguing projects, and we’ve released a lot of new points of connection, such as a telegram group for our book club community, a newsletter, new formats, and new creators with whom we may collaborate. At Keeda, we’re also working on new IPs that we can offer to both streamers and studios.
Web3 is a very exciting concept for our communities. It provides a new approach for us to engage with our audiences, and it will allow us to give the community greater opportunities to participate in the shaping of the community.
The place for longer-form content is also changing. With so many options, content is increasingly oriented toward niches and sub-communities rather than the general public.
Web3 technologies are becoming more widely used. Virtual production, short-form content, audio content, interactive content, and other new means of creating and consuming information, A rise in social interaction across the board – whether branded or not, communities are interacting in the real world.
Pradeep Krishnakumar, Co-Founder and COO, Zouk: We came out very strong from the pandemic, having grown 10x from pre-Covid levels. The shift to online and the love for Made in India products really helped take our Proudly Indian bags and wallets to a larger base. We crossed over 1 lakh customers as well who have bought Zouk products. We also raised two rounds of funding, which puts us in a comfortable position from a capital standpoint. D2C went from being an unknown to becoming the most popular thing. 2022 will be a test to see if consumer behavior continues to be online or not. Personally, I expect an even bigger shift towards online, given a consumer will have access to high-quality, branded products across India. They no longer have to adjust to what’s available in their local shop. This will be a game-changer for online D2C brands. Also, just like India-SAAS, I expect many D2C brands to sell their products globally from India.
Kausshal Dugarr, Founder and CEO of Teabox: The year 2021 has turned out really well for Teabox, widening our horizons than ever before and more than meeting our expectations. The changes around the world impacted both – the palate and mindset of tea-drinkers, which led us to hit the ‘refresh’ button by rebranding with this changing culture. So far, Teabox was positioned as a Premium luxury tea brand, targeting a specific demographic with a developed taste for premium Indian Single Estate teas. However, the onset of the pandemic and 2021 has enabled us to learn much more about the market. With the market being unlike what it used to be five years ago, tea-drinking culture has shifted from merely functional to a more experiential form. Growing awareness about the varieties and offerings of the Indian tea gardens has encouraged people to gravitate towards experimenting with tea and finding their niche. Not only that, but the next-gen millennials are eager to try out newer tea types, branching out to savor-white teas, herbal blends, caffeine-free alternatives, and fruity-floral tisanes, which can make great cold tea. Plus, given the meditative quality of tea, people are rediscovering tea as a moment of pause.
Furthermore, our environmental-conscious consumers seeking sustainability are switching to loose-leaf teas, which are better for both the cup and the planet. Teabox, in turn, too, has a deep commitment to the environment and community – driving us to pledge to reduce 80% of our plastic consumption by 2024.
While the pandemic has already changed much in regards to operations, we intend to maintain a steady relationship with our tea drinkers in face of the new variant. Moving forward to 2022, we want to elevate the tea-drinking experience for a regular tea-drinker and want our tea-loving community to grow by creating awareness of the rich world of fresh India teas, a holistic platform, a one-stop sustainable solution where every need of a tea aficionado is met.
Sneh Jain, Managing Director and Co-Founder, The Baker’s Dozen: 2021 has surely been a dynamic year for TBD. Our brand has achieved greater heights with a 250 % yoy growth with an ARR of INR 30 Cr. It has also been a gracious year for enhancing customer loyalty and expanding our base too, as we successfully launched across 10 new cities with our retail partners, did impactful digital campaigns such as ‘The Dose We Knead’ and ‘India’s first Virtual Sourdough Summit’, opened 2 experiential brand stores and 15 + micro fulfillment centers (delivery only outlets) Pan India. We also adapted to the new normal and with the help of our entire team we were able to make our 25000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility pandemic ready by following the GMP & GHP to the T. Our future plans for 2022 includes expanding to Tier-II cities in India, exports to markets like Dubai & Singapore, and make TBD India’s largest D2C bakery brand with 100 brand stores and 1000 retail touch points across 25 cities in India
Rohit Gera Managing Director, Gera Developments said “The highlight for the real estate sector is the bounceback in demand and sales across the board for the reputed developers. On the whole, the stress in the sector has reduced and this bodes well for the industry.
Looking forward, we expect to see robust demand for projects by reputed developers. We expect that prices will continue to firm up on the back of higher demand and increasing input costs for developers.”
Rakesh R, Business Head & Director, Deepsese digital said “The pandemic has not only hastened brands’ shift to digital, but it has also reinforced the message that digital marketing is critical for future business success across industries. The year 2021 saw a shift in digital marketing trends toward automation and customization. Digital marketing trends of 2021 aimed at providing customers with highly personalized information while also relieving the strain on marketers to do so, owing to artificial intelligence-powered automation technologies”.