Aishwarya Ramesh

Alpana Parida: From a 'suit' in a designer's world to a startup founder

Anecdotes from Alpana Parida's journey as a marketer, MD of a design consultancy and as an entrepreneur.

Having worked with brand consultancy DY Works for over a decade, Alpana Parida has now moved on from the company to start her own 'outfit'. She is the co-founder of a startup called Tiivra Ventures, which specialises in creating designer helmets for two-wheelers.

Parida takes the example of karate - a martial arts form where people earn belts of different colours according to the levels of expertise. "We want to create that kind of offering for two-wheeler riders in India. India has one of the biggest markets for two-wheelers. Yet, nobody is catering to them."

Alpana Parida
Alpana Parida

She says that the bulk of riding clubs and bike enthusiasts in India focused heavily on the Royal Enfield type of bikes. "Four-fifths (or 80 per cent) of all the bikes on India's roads are not Royal Enfield bikes, and most of the sports bike cohort are largely underserved in India."

According to Parida, there are two types of riders - cruisers (who own bikes and dream of riding to Leh), and commuters (who use their bikes to commute to and fro office, college, etc.).

"Another thing we noticed is that when it comes to messaging, the images are still largely restricted to the old codes of masculinity that see men in a hunter-gatherer light. We aim to talk to men without feminising them, backing positive masculinity."

Before donning the hat of a startup founder, Parida was MD at DY Works. In 2015, Santosh Desai, the then managing director and CEO of brand management consultancy Future Brands, picked up 30 per cent stake in DY Works in his personal capacity.

Parida credits her stint at DY Works for teaching her about the nuances of design, and how it can play a crucial role in habit formation and creating an impression in a customer's mind.

"I moved to Bombay from Bangalore to work at DY Works, and felt like a 'suit' that had stumbled into the world of design by accident," she confesses. However, she also credits her time at DY Works with teaching her how to think about a brand comprehensively, from start to finish.

"When a client wants to create a brand, they might focus on what product they want to create and for whom. Other details of branding, visual identity, etc., come later. I learned to think about design as integral to the brand's identity from the word go," Parida says, adding that this was helpful to her when it came to creating her own brand.

Apart from Desai's personal stake in DY Works, Future Brands continues to own 60 per cent majority stake in the consultancy, and Parida owns 10 per cent stake, even after moving out of the agency.

When asked about her most memorable brief that she'd worked on, she harks back to the pitch for the New Development Bank (formerly known as the BRICS Bank), which was held in Shanghai. "We had 10 minutes to make a pitch and we focused on making a visual presentation that showcased the differences between this bank and the World Bank when it comes to stature and positioning," she recalls.

She insists that it was her time at DY Work that helped her gain both marketing and design related insights. She reminesces an old client of hers - Franesco Mutti; maker of pasta and pizza sauces. As they were about to launch in India, Parida realised from an on-ground consumer study that people didn't like using glass jars to pour out ingredients while cooking (and the sauce was to be sold in a glass bottle.)

She told them to pivot and repackage their products into pouches, despite the client's skepticism. "We told the client if the pouches don't sell, we will revoke our fee. Not surprisingly, after the product was launched (both in pouch and jar form), the pouches outsold the glass jars 4 to 1," she says.

When asked about a human insight that she learnt during her career, she takes us back to the time she worked at Tanishq as the head of marketing and merchandising (between 2007-2009) when she learned during a study that the one thing that working women constantly grapple with, irrespective of their social status is guilt.

"As women, its a constant struggle, when you're at home, you feel guilty for neglecting work and at work, you feel guilty for neglecting your family," she says, claiming that this was her experience over almost two decades of working.

Parida studied a PGDM in Marketing from IIM Ahmedabad, and her first stint in the world of advertising and marketing was with Rediffusion Y&R in 1985. She has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Stephen's College, Delhi.

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