Every entrepreneur should be prepared to fail before he or she succeeds: Rammohan Sundaram

The prowess of non-resident Indians (NRIs) is being seen across the world and they have become leading figures in different fields. Here, we introduce Rammohan Sundaram who heads an Advertising and Marketing Technology company in Silicon Valley. He has become a global citizen thanks to his handling of the business in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions.

Offering tips to new startups, he says, “Failure is part of being successful, so every entrepreneur should be prepared to fail first before he or she succeeds. That is what differentiates the successful startups from the regular ones.” He shared his success mantra with  Connected to India (CtoI).

CtoI: Please tell us about your company C1X and its broad functions.
Rammohan Sundaram:
C1X is a Silicon Valley-based Advertising and Marketing Technology (AMT) company with offices globally, addressing the fraternity in solving the big problems in the digital advertising business like transparency, audience discovery and ease of use, while deploying large budgets to reach global consumers across various categories.

Rammohan Sundaram in a lighter mood.
Rammohan Sundaram in a lighter mood. Photo courtesy: Rammohan Sundaram

While we are just a two- and-a-half year-old company, we have made tremendous strides with our global presence and have over 1,000 advertisers working with us globally.

We are unique in many ways; however, the biggest differentiation is our full stack solution across supply, demand and e-commerce , making us the only company that works across spectra with data as the key focus for marketers to make qualified decisions.

We now have around 150 staff with over 100 in our development centers in San Jose, Chennai and Bangalore while the rest are spread across our business teams globally including New York, Omaha, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo. We have raised two rounds of funding exceeding USD14 million till date.

CtoI: In your experience, what are the three tips you would give to a start-up?
Rammohan Sundaram:

1) Something to look up to.
 2) Something to look forward to.
 3) Something to continue pursuing that dream.

The above three will be critical for every start-up, because unless you have the above three in order there isn’t much motivation left and I have seen many entrepreneurs giving up just before the light of day, which is very unfortunate given the effort that goes into building a great product or service. In my mind, it is not failure that should be the cause of worry but failure to adapt that is the cause of worry. If one fails, it should be the comeback story that keeps the real entrepreneurs motivated. Otherwise we wouldn’t have ever seen a Jack Ma or a Michael Jordan. Failure is part of being successful so every entrepreneur should be prepared to fail first before he or she succeeds. That what differentiates the “successful startups” to the “regular startups”.

CtoI: Why did Velfie not achieve the heights you were striving for?
Rammohan Sundaram:
I think, it was a failure that propelled me to be even more focused in what I embarked on. Velfie was a ‘fad’, to accept that scale will be an issue and continuity to engage with audience will be a problem came to light only after we had spent a significant amount of time, effort and money. And our biggest competition DubSmash grew at a rapid pace and killed our entire value proposition on the product. The celebrity community was more hooked on their global peers, which made matters worse for us; though we did some of the best movie associations and music launches, including movies likeGabbar is Back and Badshah’s first solo album with DJ Wale Babu.

Rammohan Sundaram
Photo courtesy: Rammohan Sundaram

CtoI: You have mentioned that Google and Facebook are a walled garden for advertisers and are rapidly capturing a majority of the global advertisements. How can publications survive amidst stiff competition and sagging revenues?
Rammohan Sundaram:
Look, there is a world outside the walled gardens and that audience is equally big or bigger when compared to the audience available within the gardens, which is the biggest reasons for many successful networks or exchanges globally. The more programmatic the offerings are becoming, the better the adoption is at the brands and agencies end. That is the reason why programmatic advertising is set to grow to a USD100 billion market by 2020.

A new company like ours with unique offerings is making a dent in the global market and in the quarters to come, accountability and transparency along with audience discovery will become the key to succeed outside of the walled gardens.

The ones who are growing rapidly are the ones who are adapting to the changing landscape through programmatic advertising and every brand looks for value when they advertise with a publisher and a platform like ours brings that value , which in turn helps revenue grow for all the publishers.

CtoI:  Tell us about your experience and the values learnt at Harvard Business School. How was living in America different from living in Dubai?
Rammohan Sundaram:
Harvard wasn’t the reason for my success, because I did an Executive Programme much later in life. I attribute my little success to absolute commitment and perseverance on everything I undertook. However, the values of Harvard get imbibed in you forever and one of those that I think has made a lasting impact in me is to strive and make a difference in today’s world of business.

Rammohan Sundaram in an exciting mood at Hollywood.
Rammohan Sundaram in an exciting mood at Hollywood. Photo courtesy: Rammohan Sundaram

I have one leg in the US and one in Dubai, so I have the best of both worlds given I spend 15 days in a month in US and the rest in Dubai. Dubai today offers a lot more in terms of quality of life.

CtoI: How long have you been living in Dubai? Which other countries have you lived and worked in?
Rammohan Sundaram: I have been in Dubai since January of 2017 and I have worked across markets including South-East Asia and the US but lived most of my life in India, which is where my home is. I am not only a patriotic Indian at heart but believe in the story of India in the years to come. One day, I will go back to India, which is where the real deal is!

CtoI: What do you think are the reasons of the growth of the Indian diaspora in their respective resident countries?
Rammohan Sundaram:
Indians are intelligent, period! They want to succeed in everything that they do and to make that happen Indians commit to stay focused and work hard as compared to any local population where Indians reside in, which is the biggest reason why, whether it is a white- collared or a blue- collared worker, Indians just know how to make ends meet.