Upasna Kakroo co-founded Brandanew in October 2014. Keenly interested in the field of business and leadership. Upasna has been blogging about urban culture and digital trends for the last 12 years. Her previous work includes: Mckinsey & Co., Rocket Internet and the Holtzbrinck group globally in roles juggling between technology, branding and online. We chat with Upasna here –
Tell us more about yourself
Before founding a Content Marketing and Branding Startup, I worked with several German online startups: Experteer, Rocket Internet on their Search, Content and Social strategy. In India, I focused on online consumer behavior in McKinsey & Co. for over 5 years and also has work experience in the NGO sector in the ICT4D domain. I was in school for her MBA in International Marketing (Germany), M.S. in Tech Policy (U.K.) and Bachelor’s in Electronics Engineering from Pune, India (India). I was born in Srinagar and was thrown out of home onto Delhi in 1990 when the minority community was cleansed out of the valley. I spent my school time in Noida.
What made you take the leap towards Brandanew?
I have been blogging on urban culture and how people alter with digital since 2003, so what I do with content and branding has been a personal and professional interest that I’ve worked on over time. I have worked on branding, online consumer behavior and other marketing topics for over ten years since I began so it’s not new. As I started working with several Startups and understood that in the present world we are not bound by locations and access, I eventually started my own venture. The Internet makes the barriers low for people who want to push for success. My interest in Branding also comes from my interest in books and writing. Also, Gulzar’s Mirza Ghalib. How does one create a desire for something that only hurts? That’s work of genius. That’s what exceptional writers (and marketers) are capable of. Kashmiri as a language is a little less direct. We use euphemisms. We don’t necessarily need to say it literally, but you can still make people understand or feel something. In many ways, I feel branding and marketing are similar.
What are the challenges that you face everyday? How do you overcome these challenges? Maintaining a work-life balance: I have definitely not overcome this and am learning how to cope with the pressures of a new Startup and usual life. Sometimes, it’s irritating when people call/ reach out in the middle of a working day for “time-pass”, because I work from home. I am learning to draw boundaries better.
2) Hiring talent for my Startup, especially for India is tough, because while many people like the idea of working in a flexible, remote, global startup, few are ready for it.
3) Dealing with those that always tend to pass on negativity: I think doing something of your own puts you in spotlight but also exposes you to tons of unwanted comments from people who don’t really care. I have learnt to block negativity out of my life by focusing on something more enriching, like I started with a 30 day gratitude project personally.
How do you see Brandanew growing?
As a place for all the authentic, and original content. Also engaging storytelling that’s genuine and not copy-pasted from one blog to another. I don’t understand people who find fake short cuts and are not willing to put in effort.
When not working what are you doing?
Drawing or walking.
A message to all SHEROES out there
Don’t let anyone downplay what you do. Many people can’t digest that I have a startup and often make it sound lesser by saying, “freelancing with companies”. Having a Startup, and being responsible for other people is a different level of responsibilities and not easy. Women are subjected to this a lot more than men. I’ve learnt to get offended with people who make it sound small. It’s the classical, taking the girls for granted mentality. I’m not here to have people refusing to see my efforts and hard work. I move on, but not before I let them know that they’re in the wrong