Shreyas Kulkarni

A look at the origin story of ‘Fundamental’, India’s newest agency on the block

Founded by three DDB Mudra old hands, this is the first of a series on how advertising agencies came to life.

It is one thing to think of starting your own shop, but to go ahead and do it is a whole different kind of scene. It is something former DDB Mudra hands Pallavi Chakravarti, Nishant Saurabh and Anand Murty, did around two weeks ago when they launched Fundamental, a new advertising agency.

Now, most thoughts of doing something on your spring from a bad day at work, after an argument with your boss, or the urge to change the status quo. “It was not to prove anything for sure,” says Chakravarti, and feels this thought can come to people not only on bad days but after a good day at work too.

Turns out the trio had many days when the topic of launching their agency crept into their conversations, and it helps that all of them had similar views on what constitutes good advertising.

“We felt that we were hitting our prime time with respect to our careers. If you had to take a shot at doing something for ourselves, the time was now,” says Saurabh who will take up the CEO’s role at Fundamental.

Chakravarti is chief creative officer and Murty is the chief strategy officer.

And it was the three who pushed each other to overcome that inertia which many people fall into after deciding to do something and before going ahead and executing it.

A major responsibility for new agency founders is getting the right people, and while at it, Saurabh realised that an age-old advertising facet had made a return; “people would not join agencies but join people. When we were talking to people, the majority of people we want to work with are reciprocating the sentiment,” he explains.

It is delightful to see and hear of people wishing to join a new agency because of its founders but Chakravarti is being cautiously optimistic.

“We realise you are only as good as your previous job. We have a certain amount of mohalat because we are starting new but if you cannot sustain the quality, you will lose them quickly,” she believes.

Fundamental, right now, is looking at hiring mid to senior-level folks. “What we are trying to do is run a very tight-knit unit, with people who know how to shoulder responsibility and output, run their stuff in a manner where clients’ expectations are met,” explains Saurabh.

And staying with people, the CEO tells us there were many people “who believed what we were setting out to do and ready to invest” but the founding trio decided against it.

“The minute you have a tighter team and not looking at extravagant expenses and not looking at doing stuff which allows you to have more overheads before you have revenues, you've given yourself a longer run rate,” states Saurabh.

Chakravarti adds that they have seen mammoth agencies work from home during the pandemic successfully, and so there is no need for big spends now like an office space.

The CCO believes they would like to think of themselves as “directional thinkers” and will not buckle under the pressures of saying yes to everything a client asks which many agencies are guilty of doing. “We would be doing our clients and ourselves a disservice by making such a claim,” she states.

Fundamental’s main aim is to sit down with a client and understand their business problem from its core and then decide the right course of action than brand themselves as this agency or that agency.

“We haven't come in looking to build an empire, build some 200-people outfit, but have come by a common love for what we do, and hoping if this takes off and goes in the direction it wants to go in, there is no better way we feel to spend the last leg of our working lives,” she feels. 

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