Rishi Sharma, Vice President (Marketing), Zolo

Rishi Sharma comes with over 20 years of marketing experience and is responsible for strengthening Zolo’s external and internal brand communication along with developing an overarching brand strategy for new vertical launches. An integrated Marketing specialist, Digital Evangelist with all-around experience across Advertising Agencies, FMCG, Fashion and Lifestyle companies. His expertise lies in B2B2C Marketing, Digital Marketing, Digitization and Technology enthusiast, MIS, CRM, Branding & Communication, Team management and Product Marketing, Launches & GTM. Prior to Zolo, he was working with names such as the Aditya Birla Group, Liva and Kara. His previous stints include Samsung India Electronics and advertising agencies like McCann, Publicis, Euro RSCG (Havas) as a planner.


After years spent in multinational corporations and prior to that in advertising agencies, I can state unequivocally that start-ups require an entirely new kind of battery.

Here are a few takeaways from my time leading in marketing to illustrate what helped us in achieving rapid success and what were the causes of some setbacks on an already hectic road.

Start-ups are often obsessed with the product and desires rapid growth. But with lack of advertising due to lockdowns, it is very agonizing that we have been unable to garner more brand attention as we had expected.

We at Zolo believe in striking a balance between brand marketing and performance from the start, as the former establishes a company’s reputation and values, as well as other characteristics such as consumer credibility and loyalty, which take time to develop. The latter is directly linked to ROI.

Recognize your Audience:

Prior to formalizing strategies, running AdWords campaigns, or utilizing social media, it is critical to ascertain who will use the product. While this may appear straightforward, you will notice that it is quite common for start-ups to alter their target audience while validating their business model.

At Zolo we call us as customer obsessed fanatics. We refrain from believing that everyone is a target, and that attempting to appeal to everyone will result in failing to connect with your true potential customers. 

Engage, just not sell:

Engage your consumer base and communicate your company’s central “why.” By describing the future, you are establishing, you can assist them in comprehending why they require your product or service. This can be accomplished using a promotional video, blog posts, or social media communications that are responsive.

Consider Yourself an Owner: Spend Your Money Wisely:

Brand marketing requires investment; it is critical to maximize the brand’s reach and budget for promotion. However, much can be accomplished intelligently through search engine optimization, content creation, and conversational platforms, to name a few.

Think Smart! Think like a generalist:

Taking a broad view of marketing will benefit you, as it is critical to execute each aspect of marketing correctly. Specialists may be prohibitively expensive, and they will not assist us in establishing the proper foundation for the business.

While I would assert that while the fundamentals remain the same, the pace and terrain are distinct. Here it is important to be frugal. Every penny counts. In the times where cost per acquisition is becoming expensive, the only mantra is getting to the right consumer in the most cost-effective way is the game. I call it Smart Marketing. Spend where’s most necessary. Creative thinking is the only way to survive as the market dynamics are constantly evolving.  Many times, it will be No-Cost Marketing in the most unconventional manner. 

Testing, learning, and modifying on the fly is a big part of start-up marketing. It’s necessary to be adaptable enough to keep track of what’s working and what isn’t. Google, Free SAS, and New Tools Plan how you’ll collaborate with engineers and designers. Most importantly, become acquainted with visualisation software such as Figma and Whimsical. These tools aid in the introduction of design principles that underpin the most modern interface design guidelines as well as the identification of key areas of concern that stymie rapid rollouts.

Start-ups are missionary in nature, with their own minds and thus their own culture. If you’re new to the start-up scene, it’s a good idea to roll up your sleeves and collaborate with young talent and interns to put your ideas together in the form of a product that has the potential for incremental innovation.

As a marketer at heart, I’ve always believed that marketing and branding should be viewed as a long-term investment rather than a cost. But, in my short experience with start-up, the real joy comes from small breakthroughs that change the way things are done traditionally.


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