Interview with Shajesh Menon, Founder at The Younion
The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Tell me about your education?
Post Graduate in Marketing Management
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
An unplanned start to the career, just around early teens when the focus had to be on academics. I was thrown into the deep wild as a door-to-door salesman. The grueling and harsh field conditions in a city like Mumbai (India) was the perfect ground for discipline, necessary attitude and a keen eye for processes. Day-long tiring cold sales-calls packed with objection and pressure handling, thinking on the feet for conversions, goal setting, and managing targets have all come together as absolute weaponry to play the role today.
As an Entrepreneur, in the very first year of operation, a conscience-pricking situation tested my resolve. I was asked to do something unethical, compromise on values, and go to an unnecessary length only to double up our revenues. The case in point when a client offered to park all marketing spend for the year with us with a pre-condition to share profits with him. While corrupt practices is a known fact in the industry, standing up and refusing to comply was a possibly a turning point for me personally.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
• Richard Branson for his people-first and centric approach had a resounding influence while setting up the organization.
• Steve Jobs, for his persistent focus on design and user/customer experience…much more than functionalities is a sound-board for every single assignment at The Younion.
• Jack Ma, for his simplistic approach to leadership and management
• Simon Sinek, with the ‘Golden Circle’ theory, has defined and strengthened the lens of our value differentiators.
Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
What is the name of your company?
The Younion (officially registered as ‘Younion Focused Marketing Services Pvt.Ltd’)
Where is your company located?
Headquartered in Bangalore, India.
What services or products does your organization provide?
Focused and Integrated Marketing Services:
Solutions (B2B — Tech Marketing)
Enterprise Leadership (Forums, Conclaves, Relationship Programs, Round Tables, Leadership Meets)
Business Development & Market Penetration (Product Launches, Vertical & Segment-specific roadshows, Ground Activation & Exhibits, FOS & Sales Enablement)
Demand Generation (Lead & Sales Pipeline building, Direct Mailing & Call-to-Action campaigns, Activation support)
Partner Connect (Summits, Off-Sites, Incentive Programs, Network building & Onboarding, Training & Empowerment)
Evangelism & Adoption ( Workshops, Labs, Councils, Appreciation & Certification, Advocacy & Propagation)
Digital (Listening, Visibility Drives, Content Strategy, Syndication & Engagements, Influencer Programs, Media amplification, SEO & Social, Measurement & Analytics)
Database (Data Management, Data building & profiling, Audience acquisition, Pre-qualification & data vetting)
Creative & Strategy (Conceptualization, Core campaign strategies, Communication Design & Content, Brand/identity asset development & implementation)
Event Production & Operations (Fabrication, Stage, SLV support, collateral & merchandise management, MICE co-ordination)
What problem is your business trying to solve?
Helping brands bridge gaps with their communities. Working closely with brands (and marketers) to ensure every marketing effort/initiative goes beyond transactional objectives and gains…help in creating long-term and sustainable engagements/relationships.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
While the category is focused on tactics and execution practices, The Younion strives to reflect insights (expectations, behavioural patterns, perception barriers) from communities…help align them to key business objectives and goals. At a fundamental level, it is the conceptual approach to marketing by helping brands relate to their communities (read: target audience) with meaningful engagements and memorable experiences that is the cornerstone. Insights are driven concepts for amplified financial and emotional return on marketing investments.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
Ground experience (earlier agency stint) of working closely with Fortune 500 brands in India. Marketing campaigns and activities were lop-sided to execution and tactics which overwhelmed with transactional mandates. Stakeholders were refusing to lend ears to the ground and gauge the pulse of their audience before talking or transacting with them.
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business
The Younion is now 65 people strong and arguably, the most sought after Marketing Partner to Technology brands. Starting from scratch from a coffee shop, The Younion’s annual revenue today crosses $2 million and has been recording a steady year-on-year growth.
Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
You will always be a villain in someone else’s story. Heroism is in your beliefs, your ideas and your persistence…you don’t owe anything to anyone.
Your team, your people and all those who will travel with you form the centre of your existence. Transactions and wins are mere milestones. The journey is more important than the pit stops.
A dream can go on to build a legacy, but a legacy with no purpose is still a dream.