afaqs!

Defining Moments: I Venkat: The One Company Man

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 17, 2010
I Venkat and Eenadu have grown together which makes it very difficult to separate the defining moments of I Venkat's career from those of the Telugu news daily. Venkat, who has spent around 40 years with one company Eenadu, has held only three positions there - trainee, ad manager and director. afaqs! traces the turning points in his life.

Fate kept me in India

After my graduation, I was planning to move to San Francisco to pursue a course on business. But some issues with my sponsorship cropped up and I had to stay back which turned out to be a defining moment in my career.

I enrolled in a law college and it is then that I was introduced to Ramoji Rao, who owned Kiran Ads. I joined the agency as a trainee in 1970 and worked there for four years, until Eenadu was launched. In 1974, I moved to Vishakhapatnam as an ad manager for Eenadu. In 1986-87, I was made the director on the board of the company.

Experience was learning

When we started the journey at Eenadu, we were complete novices and we dealt with the market, based on our own understanding of things. As we moved ahead, we learnt the tricks of the trade through trials and error.

Soon the paper started growing, in 1978 - the fourth edition was launched and we beat giants like Andhra Prabha and became the No. 1 paper in Andhra Pradesh. This was another defining moment both for me and my newspaper.

New innovations

In the next few years, we tried several innovations which turned out to be the defining moments for me and Eenadu. In 1987, Eenadu was the first newspaper to execute the idea of 'district newspapers'. Similarly, Eenadu was the first in the country to launch a coloured page exclusively for women (Vasundhara in 1992) at the time when newspapers were considered to be mostly read by men.

Post the electronic boom in 1995, Eenadu was the first newspaper group to start an infotainment channel - ETV and my passion was back-end operations. Back then, only a few channels existed including Zee, Sun and Star. I am the only guy who has been in a newspaper and in TV through and through and has held both the portfolios at the helm!

Also, everything was under one person- scheduling, billing, accounts, marketing, collections, selling. My colleagues used to say I'm the head cook to the bottle washer. Handling a dual role at Eenadu was another defining moment of my career.

Of late

Since the last two years, I've deliberately been lying low as far as the day-to-day operations at Eenadu are concerned, I spend my morning hours at The Nimmagadda Foundation (Hyderabad), an NGO which focuses on children's health and education.

Professionally, my main responsibility is the development of a new back-end software system that will be up for sale to other newspapers early next year. For me, Eenadu is a case of jeena yahaan marna yahaan, iske siva jana kahaan!

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