Pranali Vichare, Founder & CEO, leads the 150-member team of professionals of TALKD. A brand established a decade ago, from a simple yet fundamental observation - the existence of a recognized yet unfulfilled gap between Technology Offerings and their Marketing function. In almost every enterprise, the strategic focus of a CMO and his/her team is to try and fill this gap. It’s this idea that led to the inception of TALKD as a Creative Global Agency - taking up the mantle of an enabler to fill this gap and exclusively cater to Technology Companies.
While they are stepping into their 10th year, the journey of TALKD started under the moniker of ‘ileadfarmers’. The inception purposed to bridge the gap between Lead Generation and Sales conversion through a unique approach - Lead Farming. Over the years, they have evolved to include Visual Design, Creative Storytelling, and Design Thinking Led UX and UI services, converging an ecosystem to become the end-to-end strategic, marketing, and creative partner of leading IT Enterprises and Tech Startups.
As a Creative Global Agency, TALKD is bridging the functional gaps between the Marketing, Sales, Product Development, and Services Innovation arm of IT enterprises. Their entire umbrella of Digital, Creative, UX, and Development offerings include -
· Strategic, Marketing, and Digital activities that encompass Strategic consulting for marketing, Campaign creation and management, Production of Collaterals, end-to-end Digital and Social Media management
· Idea and architecture of Innovative Products and their end-to-end realization through UX Research, Frontend Design & Development
· Discovery and engagement of customer universe for a company and their Nurture and Conversion to Leads for Sales Enablement
· Addressing limitations in client’s project requirements - building an ecosystem of Team Augmentation to empower clients with capable resources
To realize these multifaceted endeavors, they have brought together a diverse team of experienced individuals of 150+ and growing, backed up by a strong network of partners furthering their core competencies.
“I would like to start with my belief that 'My travel is my success’. A lot of learnings and experiences in my life have emerged from my globetrotting - becoming my passion and petri dish for ideas. I consider it a privilege to have been able to visit terrains and mountain treks that are frequented by the few, beyond common tourist destinations across the globe.
This passion helps me to further my professional and personal growth story, allowing me to leverage experiences for creative ideation and incorporating visualization themes,” wrote Pranali.
In an exclusive conversation with The CEO Magazine’s Editor Purnima Narang, Pranali shared insights about her journey, the brand, leadership, and many more.
Pranali: With the inception of our entrepreneurial venture, my co-founder and I were entering into a territory we hadn’t experienced first-hand. It’s never easy to lead a startup, and more so if you’re doing it for the first time. There were both - expected challenges and unprecedented pitfalls on the way. Identifying the right business model and funding might seem a humongous effort, but an equally challenging experience was hiring the right people.
Overcoming these challenges required active involvement. Not just leading or guiding on strategic steps and client relationships, but helping the team manage and execute projects. This meant proactively working on nurturing campaigns for Lead Generation, and collaborating in Conceptualization and Design Mockup creations, with Logical Thinking and Empathy as the differentiators. Not only was this a rewarding journey into team building, but a learning journey of client pain points and delivery team challenges, becoming our base to grow and evolve our service delivery model.
Pranali: The initial vision that forged the inception of TALKD was to bridge the divide between technology and marketing function and empower both. We channeled this vision with the focus on a unique “Lead Farming” approach catering to medium-sized businesses and tech startups, to test our grounds. Over the years, we evolved our competence, and so did our business model and subsequent vision. We embraced “Storytelling” to connect the dots between creatives and marketing while continuing to bring a personalized approach to inbound and outbound communication and engagement to fuel our client’s lead pipelines.
Stepping into the age of Digital Proliferation and the new dynamics of the IT landscape brought a new window of opportunity. Enterprises at the forefront of transformative innovation were facing roadblocks in communicating the value proposition of their products and offerings. This disruption enabled us to carve a niche towards becoming their partners leveraging Communication, Marketing, and UX Design & Development to help realize their Digital Transformation offering led ROI. Today, we are poised as the end-to-end collaborators of business leaders, enabling them to “Talk Digital”. And that’s the vision and mission of the company we are building and furthering in this post-pandemic world.
Pranali: From year one to the 10th year in operation, we have been exposed to the requirements, challenges, and expectations of a wide breadth of diverse technology companies. We have successfully collaborated with mainstream IT service providers like Product Engineering, Cloud, Data & Analytics, and Managed Services to niche SMEs in Machine Learning, Telecom Cybersecurity, Semiconductor Design, and more. Our years of exposure to varied technology services and solutions continuum is the base of our foundation and USP as a Global Agency - exclusively for technology companies.
While addressing the strategic, marketing, and sales enablement needs across delivered projects, we have honed on our ability of “Technology Storytelling”. It’s all about building a thorough understanding of the end-user problems and the value proposition our technology clients bring in their offerings to address the pain points. Next, we connect the dots between, leveraging a unique blend of strategic, digital, and user-experience-led communication, that engages the target audience. These endeavors are a collaborative pillar on a strong team of marketing experts, content specialists, creative visualizers, UX & UI analysts, and interaction designers.
“Design Thinking” is another competency that stems from our journey to understand end-user pain points and is interrelated to our Storytelling approach. It’s all about a human-centric approach to addressing pain points and crafting user-first solutions across a wide range of real-world problems. This can include defining the user journey for a portal, or the interaction in a beta product, or how the interface of an application should be, and more.
Converge these, and you have us as the end-to-end partner of IT leaders and trailblazers, functioning as an extended Marketing, Product Development, and Sales Enablement unit. It’s a feat that only a few other indigenous marketing agencies have achieved so far.
Pranali: Unprecedented events like this pandemic and the impact of disruptive innovations are factors that we have to adapt to, as and when they come. However, the challenges and failures that we and the team have learned from are some of the classic pitfalls of starting and operating a new venture.
Not everybody carries the same level of motivation and enthusiasm in realizing the vision you see as an entrepreneur, and there is nothing wrong with that. And few of our initial failures can be attributed to looking into this from our point of view. 100% motivation and knowledge transfer is only a part of addressing this. The real solution is understanding how an individual’s passion aligns with your vision and empowering them to channel that passion. That’s a central pillar of what guides us today.
Apart from this, we have never been shy of trying new ideas and approaches to address end-user problems. Not all of them stood the test of time. Yet, we learned from them, identifying where we failed, correcting our course, relying on our competencies. Some of these ideas are still a part of our capability. However, they have evolved beyond their original framework.
Pranali: While the list of awards and recognitions will be a testament to our capabilities, the true reflection of our success is in the clientele we have catered to - many of them transforming to continued engagements that started with one-time associations. We have worked with multinational global IT leaders like Tech Mahindra, Cisco, Infosys, Persistent, Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI), Cummins, KPIT, and conglomerates like the Hero Group. We are the production arm of an entire business unit, one of India’s oldest and today’s globally recognized IT leaders - HCL. We have been the Official UX Partner of the digital transformation arm of another Indian multinational group. Besides them, other companies like CtrlS, Datametica, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines represent some of our many successful collaborations.
Some of the recognitions we achieved include -
Best UX companies of India
Best Website on Awwwards, FWA Awards
Best Marketing Agency, India
Pranali: As the Founder and CEO of TALKD, I am focused on shaping the identity of TALKD and how it evolves in this continuously shifting business landscape. This is a journey that starts with Connectivity and continues as an Ecosystem. Connectivity becomes the basis of a strong relationship with our people and our partners. There’s no hierarchy in TALKD and I actively play a part in being a mentor to the teams, and not just pan the strategic roadmap of the agency. This connectivity furthers a stable Ecosystem, where partners and team TALKD collaborate as one, maintaining meaningful client relationships by delivering the extra mile.
Speaking about the team means not speaking about individuals in particular but a collective - each with their area of expertise, synced with the other’s competencies, optimizing the functions of our business units. The Sales team often don the role as the first point of contact in representing TALKD.
The team of Marketers coordinates with clients besides donning the hats of Strategists, Conceptualizers, Content and Copy Experts, and Digital Marketers and the bridge between the Design and Web Teams. The Design and Web teams are the experts in Creative Design and CMS/Custom Developments, working on diverse Design tools and Web-builder platforms. Our UX arm is the collective reflection of capable UX Analysts, UI Designers, and Front End Developers with expertise in new tools in UI and interaction design. Besides them, business analysts and campaign experts manage and deliver success in Lead Nurturing and Sales Enablement.
Pranali: 2011 to today - the world of IT has grown, experienced disruptions, evolved, experienced disruption again, and has adapted rapidly. Digital Transformation and agile innovation have been key enablers in this journey - especially in the last five years. Today, many organizations are converging their offerings and adopting an ‘Everything-as-a-Service’ business model, where Data, Cloud, and AI are taking the lead in tech innovation. Thanks to these factors, we’re into the age of Experience-defined-transformation, with UX repackaging technology to factor in the CX, customer retention, and the subsequent impact on ROI.
Our service delivery model has evolved considerably to match the pace of this shift in the business landscape. Design Thinking is enabling us to maintain relevance to end-user expectations, supporting solution ideation that addresses the right pain points. To empower this approach we have expanded our breadth of expertise in the latest development platforms and tools like CMS (WordPress, WebFlow, etc.) PHP, React/Angular Java, Raw HTML/CSS HTML, through in-house expansion and co-collaboration. These have furthered our back-end tech and platform integrations, allowing us to serve as an end-to-end development partner for businesses, besides defining and architecting their UI with new design and wireframing tools like Figma and Balsamiq.
Pranali: Unlearning and relearning have been a core part of everything we do. This approach has stayed strong, helping the old and the new team members rapidly adapt to and address changing client expectations - sometimes amidst an ongoing project.
Besides this, we have always emphasized an Open Culture and Open Desks. While we have moved from our first base of operations to a second facility and now to a new and state-of-the-art office, our essence of maintaining this open culture hasn’t changed. Supporting this is another of our core tenets - maintaining a Hierarchy-free Workplace, where anyone can be approachable, at any time, be the senior leaders or the founding team.
Pranali: The first challenge we faced with the onset of the pandemic is the same every enterprise faced everywhere - being operational while being remote. Digital once again became a game-changer here, altering enterprise processes, workflows, and new rules of inter-team and client communications. We have been quick to adapt to these changing work practices, with our dispersed team collaborating seamlessly thanks to communication tools like Google Meet and Zoom, collaborative spaces like Miro, and project management applications. Technology, combined with the adaptive mindset helped maintain communications, manage operations, and meet all client deliveries without compromising on quality.
The additional advantage is the continuity of this hybrid model, though we are back in the four walls of office space. This brings two-fold benefits. On one hand, we can always adapt against similar disruptions in the future and do it fast. Secondly, it allows us to expand the TALKD ecosystem of people, not limited by the office boundaries.
Pranali: A tech-savvy cross-functional support provider - one who would be an extended arm of Product Development to Marketing to Sales, is the ask of every business leader. To this need, we are bolstering our ecosystem to establish a strong Front-end Development support unit - one that furthers the UX research and UI design prototypes we are delivering, to develop an end-product - tested and deployable by our clients.
To support this and the other varied needs of our clients, we are venturing into Team Augmentation support. The focus is on readying Agile PODs of experienced professionals - specific to the need of the project, with TALKD becoming the offshore demand delivery center, addressing the expertise gap our clients might face when starting projects of their own.
Pranali: From the client side, IT enterprises and emerging startups are looking for a dependable partner who would address their needs end-to-end. From the side of service expertise, the world has stepped into a Gig-economy where expert freelancers are bringing value and becoming the change-makers in the content, creative design, and the UX arena. Into the next five years of our journey, we want to be the bridge between these two worlds, becoming an ecosystem that leverages the best parts of the second’s expertise to differentiate the offerings of the former.
Pranali: If “Keep Your Friends Close, And Keep Your Enemies Closer” is the common saying, for entrepreneurs that saying would be “Keep Your Business Close, And Keep Your Family Closer”. Being an entrepreneur means donning many responsibilities - all at once. Especially the early days of a startup demand a lot of effort and commitment into the venture, and young individuals can be consumed by this pressure. Here, the presence and moral support from one’s family and friend’s circle are essential to maintain a balanced living and address the challenges in starting and cementing the realization of one’s entrepreneurial idea.
Besides the support of one’s family, it becomes important for an entrepreneur to rejuvenate his/her vitality and simulate inner passion. The same can come from any activity - be it hiking, community service, travelling, to simple activities like yoga and creative writing. It’s necessary to be engaged in these activities to maintain one’s inner fortitude so that entrepreneurship doesn’t become significant than life itself.