Nisha Qureshi

10 years in the making; TheSmallBigIdea dreams bigger

  • TSBI, which started off as a social media marketing agency has evolved into a comprehensive digital solutions provider over 10 years.

  • The agency has carved a niche for itself in the entertainment space but has increasingly been serving clients across categories.

  • The agency has forayed into the MENA region and aims to cater to the growing demand for global perspectives in the market.

  • TSBI plans to consolidate its position in India with a refreshed brand identity focused on ‘What's Next!’ 

TheSmallBigIdea (TSBI) recently marked a decade in business. The agency , which was earlier a social media marketing start-up, has evolved and spread its wings across everything digital, say Manish Solanki, COO and co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea and Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and co-founder at TheSmallBigIdea.

The agency started off with a three-member team back in 2013 and has since expanded its workforce to over 200 individuals. As per Pillai, what makes the agency stand out from its peers is the depth of associations they have with brands. In an environment where brands jump from agency to agency, TSBI has been serving a few select clients for multiple years.

“We have had long-term associations with brands and have been a part of their brand-building journey on digital. For example, we are managing over 15 channels for Zee entirely and have been part of the Zee story on digital. We have handled Dharma for over four years. We have been a very integral part of brand narratives through these years,” explains Pillai.

Beyond entertainment

The agency has carved a niche for itself in the entertainment space, especially with movie marketing, content associations, and serving some of the big players in the television space. However that is changing quickly, says the duo. 

The agency is now actively serving categories like BFSI, retail, D2C, and consumer durables. “We have worked with five BFSI clients just last month. Fashion as a category is working well with us and real estate is also picking up. ” Solanki says.

According to him, the agency gets almost 65% of its revenue from the entertainment sector; the remaining is coming from across various categories.

Pillai adds that their hold over the entertainment sector has helped them push boundaries for other sectors.

“What that has enabled us to do is that brands that are non-entertainment, look at us as great story-tellers. In an environment where even a 30-second ad film might not land on younger generations’ minds, how can brands talk to them daily is what matters. Brands want to be relevant every day today, and this is where we play an integral part,” Pillai states.

International expansion

The agency recently announced its foray into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with its office in Dubai, marking its international expansion. The duo says the decision was taken on the back of the opportunities and the future of advertising in this market. It has on boarded clients like Sobha Realty, Lulu Group, and Uganda Government in the market.

“The UAE/Dubai is becoming a global hub because of which the kind of requirements over there are very different. Because of this global mix that's happening in the Middle East, they are looking for agencies that understand how the Arab culture would function. They want a global perspective to come in and that becomes a great opportunity,” says Pillai.

He adds that ever since brands started marking their global presence in the Middle East, performance marketing has become extremely critical in the market. He says the brands there need creativity along with the speed that younger agencies offer.

Asked how he foresees the competition in the market with legacy agencies already serving brands in the market he says, “While legacy agencies already do exist in that market, agencies like us who are younger, bootstrapped and can do things quickly have a lot of opportunity,” he says. 

Speaking about what kind of business they are looking at in the market, Solanki says, “In year one, the global market will be 10% of our top line. This should grow by 5% every year. In another 5 years, we want this to be 30% of our topline.”

The duo says that even though they have just forayed into international markets, the primary focus will remain on strengthening its foothold in India. 

“What we are trying to achieve is that we don’t want to forget our past as we step into the future. What the logo signifies is that we hold the culture, values, ideas, process, and the ecosystem dear to us while being forward-looking. The question that we constantly keep asking ourselves is, ‘What's Next!’ in all aspects of advertising, all aspects of working culture, and that's what we would like to focus on,” explains Solanki.

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