Sandeep Vij, director, agencyfaqs!, has taken over as president, Optimum Media Solutions (OMS), the media specialist unit of Mudra Communications. He joined office on July 4. OMS is modeled on Optimum Media Direction under which all the various media operations of the three agency networks within Omnicom (BBDO, DDB and TBWA) was consolidated in early 2002.
Sandeep will continue to be a shareholder in agencyfaqs! and a member on the Board of Directors. While he has withdrawn from operational functions, he will continue to provide strategic inputs at agencyfaqs!.
Speaking about the development, R Lakshminarayanan, executive director, Mudra, who has been working closely on the model and the business strategy of OMS, said, "OMS has been in the pipeline for some time now. We have been looking for a president to have overall responsibility for building a strong, profitable, domain-knowledge based media unit and we found that in Sandeep. Together with a great knowledge of the advertising business, Sandeep happens to be what we call a typical Mudra man, with a deep understanding of the Mudra culture and Mudra way of operation. Additionally, he has extensive knowledge of running a successful business unit."
Sandeep was COO for Mudra (North) when he came on fulltime at agencyfaqs! in the summer of 2000. The internet venture that he and Sreekant Khandekar promoted together went up in September 1999. When he arrived, agencyfaqs! was already gaining in popularity but revenues were negligible.
Over the past two years, the company has turned cash flow positive. Apart from the advertising that it receives, agencyfaqs! launched a number of successful advertising/marketing-oriented subscription-based services which have found clients in India's largest marketing companies and agencies. (Last year, agencyfaqs! figured in Businessworld's national list of 21 online companies closest to success.)
"With things going really well now," said Sandeep, "Sreekant and I have been discussing for the past many months whether both of us really need to be at agencyfaqs! fulltime. My step is the outcome of those conversations."
Asked for his reactions, Khandekar said, "This is a common phenomenon in tech-based startups worldwide. In the first stage, the energy of all promoters is necessary to get a concept off the ground. Once it enters orbit, some leave to pursue other possibilities while some stay on. For all you know, a couple of years later Sandeep could return and I might take off to do something else. It's pretty flexible."
To put things in perspective, OMD is the world's No 4 media services brand with 2001 billings of $18.2bn (according to Advertising Age). While in 2002, OMD took over full-service media duties from BBDO, DDB and TBWA, it also works with independent clients. The group's other media business is handled by secondary shop PHD Network.
Looking at the immediate future, Lakshminarayanan said, "In Phase I we would look at all Mudra businesses, Mudra people, Mudra infrastructure and build on the investment the agency has already made on media database and media software. This investment is to the tune of Rs 55 lakh to Rs 60 lakh. Against this background, OMS starts off with Rs 550-Rs 600 crore worth of ready business. We are looking to double the size of the business in the next 12 to 18 months." © 2002 agencyfaqs!