Meraki, a sports and sponsorship management agency was founded 4 years ago by, Ajit Ravindran, Namrata Parekh and Toshan Patil. All of them quit their stable jobs to come together to start something of their own. Starting out is definitely not easy, and each of them are proof to that. They had to put all their saving into the business to get it going and that meant the stakes were extremely high. However, what kept them going was their faith in the fact that India will move to a muti-sport economy, thus allowing entities like Meraki to establish a niche. Just like it has, now.
For them, the 2016 Olympics was their tipping point when the Indian sports ecosystem exited the monolithic shadow of cricket which helped them validate their decision of starting Meraki. One of their deep rooted founding philosophies has been to work and represent Olympic and Paralympic athletes such as Dipa Karmakar, Mohammed Anas, Bhavani Devi, Rohan Bopanna to name a few.
“We believe that sport is incredibly powerful due to the fact that it is emotional. Sport has been used as a tool to create, sustain and catalyse social change because it holds great emotional equity. The most regressive of ideas have been dismantled through sport and there are many examples of this in India and across the globe,” says Ajit. Namrata adds, “Sport management came into the picture because we believe that Sport in India, beyond cricket, to a large extent, is sponsor dependent and hence, it’s imperative for brands to stay in invested in sport. This our core inherent strength – the ability to provide long term sustainable brand solutions through sport.”
Meraki is a hybrid business model, where 50% of our revenues come from being an agency providing solutions to organizations, events & franchises etc. and the other 50% is from projects where Meraki owns certain marketing and commercial rights of existing/ new properties and works exactly like a promoter would to achieve both brand & business objectives. Sounds hardcore, right? Well, their name symbolizes just that. It means, ‘To put soul, creativity or love while putting a part of yourself into everything you do.’
Meraki is completely self-funded and that so far has been their biggest challenge. Being a bootstrapped company who refused external funding, they need to look at everything they do both from a long-term vision or short-term perspective. The lack of funding also means growth needs to be organic and one needs to be risk averse when making decision. There is no comfort in failure that many funded companies have. However, as it is with all challenges, the lessons we derive turn out to be far more valuable.
We were curious to know what it’s like to run a company with three founders. “Two heads are always better than one, in our case we have three and that is a big advantage, especially given that the three of us have diverse perspectives when it comes to problem solving. In world that is changing rapidly, I think it’s nearly impossible for one person to keep with the pace and hence having people who come with a sense of ownership is in our opinion the biggest advantage. The con actually stems from the pro. Given the contradictory views and very different perspectives, sometimes problem solving or decision making takes longer than usual and hence making the exercise more taxing than it should be. But then like every successful partnership, our foundation is built on common belief systems and hence that keeps the ship going,” says Toshan.
They’ve accomplished a lot in the last 4 years and the ones to come have only more in store. Until then, let’s do everything with ‘Meraki’?
Find them at: Website