Rite KnowledgeLabs is a full-service, content-first digital agency. As the name suggests, ‘Rite Knowledge’ the agency Rite KnowledgeLabs combines research-led content with UI-UX design and leverages the power of digital. They create digital assets and social media outreach programs from the ground up by marrying strategic consulting with executional rigour.
Founded by Zahara Kanchwalla, The 4-year-old start-up is run by a young professional team on a self-funded model and in a very short period of three years has achieved 100% growth.
Co-Founder & Executive Director of Rite KnowledgeLabs, Zahara Kanchwalla, spoke exclusively to Medianews4u on the agency growth journey and plans ahead.
How and when did you set up the agency and what made you feel that there was a need for a full service content agency?
We started about first five years ago and in the month of October we’ll actually compete five years. I have worked in the corporate space, I used to be in Tech Mahindra earlier and we have seen that corporate and even small businesses, struggle with the content or communication or even the storytelling part of it, even if they have an in-house content team. The whole dedicated approach doesn’t really come through the in-house teams and they lack specialized expertise which will is very much required. Especially at creating digital assets, they’ll probably hire content writers, or they hire creative digital agency and the technology development company and they try and do this.
I very strongly felt that the approach was not working or was going wrong because it needed to be a content-first approach. And that is really the key pillar where you’ redeciding the strategy and if that is something which you’re getting done with a freelancer and then trying to marry it with time and technology, the whole effort, everything that you do around essentially does not give the right outcome.
That is how I started thinking that companies need a content-first digital approach. Strategize your thinking is the first thing that you should do and then let that drive you’re designing a course of action that then translates into your development. So, with that thought, in mind we started off. And through the journey, we’ve basically been able to discover untold stories of brands and to strengthen them, not just from a brand perspective, but also at a communication as well. We are able to look at problems as business problems but solve them as a content problem, every business problem can be solved with content and that’s what I believe in.
If there’s a particular perception challenge that a business has been facing by having the right messaging out there, based on true facts and honest communication, and if you have your content that can solve that business problem then you are doing the right thing.
Is your entire positioning around solving business problems is through content? How do you position your agency, as there are so many start-up agencies that help small businesses and individual business owners, how do you differentiate yourself from them?
When we started, a content focused agency was unheard off. And an agency which specializes in content to have this differentiated approach and I think it stands out even today.
While the market is crowded with dozens of digital agencies, I think the difference has been and I can see that difference getting more pronounced today in these times in COVID times, where communication has suddenly seen a huge spotlight, brands which were not really out there, communicating orin their communication outreach, or leaders who were shying away from their social media presence have come out now. And they are trying to increase their share of voice. I think journey has been our differentiator and has given us this growth over these years has been a few things.
I think one I would clearly say is our ability to understand the pulse of the customer and the pulse of the market in which the customer operates. So we really do a very in-depth exercise with every customer. The project usually starts maybe with something small, but then it ends with the customer trusting us with every and any communication that customer is looking at, across the digital space and across what their leaders are advocating for their social media advocacy, their brand communication, all of that finally and it’s something that they trust us with. That comes because of the depth of engagement we are able to bring in, the speed of execution in these times everything is given time or days are gone when you know you would take like months to create a digital asset. Now it is all required as of now, so the speed of execution that we are able to bring in and the way how intense we work, there is a lot of rigor that we breathe in and there is a lot of knowledge intensity that is required.
How did you come up with this name Rite KnowledgeLabs with the spelling “Rite” and is there some sort of a story behind it?
I honestly believe there is a lot of content out there right now, but that content needs to be the rite content and that rite content can only come if you have the rite knowledge. So our content comes with a lot of knowledge intensity, and when you marry that power of knowledge, with the power of emotional storytelling, that’s when you get really the rite content. When we were looking at names, we thought of rite which we felt would be right as content has to be done right.
That’s how Rite came to life. Knowledge, come because we as a knowledge process outsourcing firm I think that knowledge was a key, so we call these two things which should be in our brand name because they really resonate or they really signify what we stand for. We look at ourselves, as somebody who’s very open to trying out new things, experimenting, very innovative and that’s the reason we thought that lab was something that signified the way we are in terms of trying things out, experiment and do something new and we don’t want to do anything which is mediocre or ordinary, we want to do something which is very different and approach things very differently from the typical way.
If you had to go back through your journey and give me some three-four high points of it or major achievements that you would like to highlight in these years. What would these be?
I think one is that we saw 100% growth in the first three years as we started without any start-up capital and were self-funded. We started in a small space and we just had that passion and we just felt and we could see it in a way customers were responding to our services or when we presented our idea we could see the excitement. With customers that passion or seeing that excitement, we did a little bit of a check on in terms of where we are in our career.
I think the way things went, the fact that we clocked that 100% growth in the first three years, we are a small boutique agency with 12 member team or big bold brands trusting us for their communication was a big high for us and after that, a number of other multinational brands. That obviously reinforces the fact that you are doing something right as an effective organizations of that size, and clients are able to trust you or innovate their communication.
I would say the growth that we have experienced, the kind of marquee customer we have been able to bring and at the same time, I would say we have been slow and sure in the sense that I don’t want to grow at any cost, so I don’t want to scale up for the sake of scaling up, I want to ensure that I maintain customers. A lot of agencies would go on the growth path and then it would be like, putting a bunch of juniors or whatever to service accounts. So for us, maintaining that, depth of engagement where senior leadership involvement in every account is there and that has been a learning. We’ve not really trusted it to some junior person in the team and that is something we unsure that a depth of engagement comes and I think from that small office, you’re able to move to the thrice the size of an office within a span of two years. And we have a small lean team of about 12 to 15, but based out of Mumbai.
How’s the business been during COVID? Any initial hiccups? How you have survived?
I think in terms of working from home, we always had the team working from home during the monsoons atleast. But there was never a situation where the entire team would work from home and I think the digital space or the brand wanted to communicate more.
Also telling brands that this is the situation you need to communicate and brands have realized that. I think business has been very good, digital has in fact picked up and with the entire team working from home in the virtual world,I think the key has also been able to support what our customers have needed and customers have definitely like I said gave up some projects which they have put on the back burner before COVID and brought it back and they said no, we want to do this now. In fact, now we don’t have an option but we have to do this now. Because it is all virtual and if you don’t have this digital asset out there and if you are not communicating right now, the situations are not right, so brands would definitely are looking at something of the communication and that is where partners like us are really out there helping run and business have definitely been good in these times and have definitely picked up anything in the time for digital and communication for sure.
What has been your advice as a strategist and as content creators?
I can think of one comment one customer made to me when they were doing their annual reviews was that this is the one agency, which, when works with us, it feels like they are a part of our team, so when this customer told me this, I was like, yes! We have done something right!
When they work with us, they work with us like they are a part of our team that really, so even if it is and they feel that need because they see that there is a specialized expertise, which they are getting, from Rite KnowledgeLab, they can trust us with something that is required and some specialized skills when it comes to content storytelling, or that they are looking for and a lot get that skill on board. Then we all work as one single team together for the betterment of the brand. So if you’ve got the right skills and if you’re able to work very closely with the customer and partner them in what they want to really achieve or and the end goal is what we all focus on so when we really look at or what time or what hour of the day or what when suddenly something comes up.
Clients also have that comfort that they can call us when they need us and something needs to be turned around quickly. And they know that speed is something which we’ve been able to demonstrate time and again that is that gives them the trust that I can go with Rite Knowledge Labs that to deliver this for me on time in a critical content or requirements.
In the lockdown period and in times of COVID have you sort of tried to explore other revenue business models or explore any other services or add-on to any services?
I think every vertical has seen a lot of growth. Look at digital asset creation customers, who didn’t want to put it on the back burner came back and said, do it right away quickly, social media leaders said we want to amp-up our presence, definitely creating Covid specific communication, from making employees feel safe for meeting customers feel that yes those brands are very much active, they are here to support their customers in these challenging times.
All that communication was something that customers trusted us with and we recreated those communication strategies and all the entire programs for them. Well, this is what you need to go out there and tell your customers or tell your employees to ensure that you retain the talent that you have you retain the customers that you have.
In fact, you’re able to build meaningful engagements with your customers and grow them even in the challenging times. It was largely to do with long form short form, social content format as such and yes helping brands communicate with empathy, to demonstrate compassion to customers, and the same time they are important audiences.
So five years almost over what’s the roadmap for the next five years?
So the last five years have just flown by and I would want to keep that growth going up and upon going forward. I think if we can even look at doubling our file over maybe the next two years, that is something that should be our target goal and maybe look at expanding into other geographies dependent on how we can look at some partnerships.
Are you also open to sort of be acquired by bigger network agents and are you opening for that path of expansion and growth?
I think that it all depends on what really comes our way and as long as we stay true to what we really do and maintain our core strengths.