An early morning bus to Mumbai isn’t bad after all. After some traditional location hunting, by 11 in the morning I was standing in front of a big glass building, with my back facing a speeding Express Highway touching the Mumbai Airport. The security guard told me to walk to the basement to find the two-year-young digital agency Chimp&z Inc.
Being a Friday, I thought it would be too early for the agency folks to turn up but I was surprised. The agency was bustling about as if some Friday party is being planned. Parties don’t have to be on Friday, they can happen even on a Monday, thinks the agency. Besides the tempo was high after last evening’s win of the TOI Kolkata Kulzy account which was being contended by ten established players in the market.
As I entered the agency, the first glimpse I captured was a big hall with moving desks, box drawers, chairs painted in bright colors, creative hangings, laptops and no boundaries. The agency is apprehensive about boundaries and cabins as they kill free flowing communications. After sipping a hot coffee in the conference room, I saw a handsome Surd wearing a sparkling blue shirt walking towards me with a big smile. It was 27-year-old Angad Singh Manchanda, co-founder at Chimp&z.
However, he and Lavinn Rajpal, the other co-founder both prefer to call themselves slaves at the agency who clean desks to get client work. Don’t trust me? Check their LinkedIn profiles. Angad escorted me to the only cabin in the office for some relaxing conversations. The cabin was created recently as clients coming to the office wanted some privacy. However the cabin is all glass facing the entire staff and on papers it is where both the co-founders work from. But, in reality, Angad, who is the big energy ball, is always with his employees at their location.
After a quick talk with his team, Angad took me back in time to his college days when he had decided that working in a corporate culture isn’t his cup of tea. It was during this time that he had also discovered the name of his future company, Chimp&z Inc. “There are three reasons why I’d opted for the name. Number one: chimps are the funniest, they are the second most intelligent species after dolphins and while they are funny they know their business. Above all I and Lavinn both love the monkey business,” recollected Angad.
However, Angad took the smart step of gaining enough marketing, branding, media and digital knowledge before jumping into the entrepreneurial business. Prior to starting up, he worked with quite a few firms for around 4 years with 3 major digital agencies that made him confident enough to start his own digital agency firm.
Go big or go home This is the kind of motto these young bunch of people live by. I had a chance to meet such bunch of young people yesterday. They have fun at work but not with the work they do. Meet Angad who is the co-founder at Chimp&z Inc who also loves to call himself slave at the agency. Super energetic and live wire young guy. I had lot of learning’s from him by the end of day. By the way the agency wants people who are looking for a marriage and not a one night stand. Angad says I am interested in hiring people who have the intent to learn and not just talent. #digitalmarketing #digitalagency #entrepreneurstories #mumbai A photo posted by Lighthouse Insights (@lighthouseinsights) on
In 2010, Foxymoron was just starting up and Angad was fortunate enough to be a part of the early team which was young and bustling. “Foxymoron was started by 4 young brains and working with them at that point was really cool and the only thing mattered was to get things done. Life was crazy but a lot of fun with bustling creative ideas.”
After working with Foxymoron for close to two years, he moved on to Cogmat. “The second shift was a complete change as Cogmat was a big company and name. However, the company came with a heavy tech approach towards marketing solutions.”
Year 2012 in Jack In The Box Worldwide as his last company, which again gave a new learning. Started by Roopak Saluja, JITB came with an advertising approach to serve client offerings. For more than a year, Angad stayed with the agency exploring areas such as digital brand communication, media planning and execution.
Finally in the year 2013, Angad decided to chase his entrepreneurial dream but before that he dragged his cousin brother Lavinn into the grind, when the latter was still in college. Very candidly Angad informs me that he convinced his first cousin and younger brother to be a part of his dream. I wonder if Lavinn had a choice but jokes apart, over the time he has stood strong during good and bad times. “People keep advising us that a family run business won’t work as every business decision would be driven by emotions. We have stood strong and since it is all family you can’t just give up and move away.”
Starting up with a capital of few thousands and working from their residence, today both these brothers have built a small empire in their own way. Apart from the Mumbai office, the agency has set up a Delhi office and has made their presence felt in Dubai. In fact by early next year there would be offices in the US and talks are on for Canada too. Our talks took a small break as there was an urgent team briefing.
After 15 minutes break, we decided to take a walk and explore the office. The office has been rebuilt recently and it has been hand made by the co-founders and the creative team members in the agency. The reception has a very earthy setting, a far cry from corporate culture. You pass by the reception, you face a big hall which is basically the employee space. On your right is the glass cabin and on your left is the conference room. The entire work space is colorful and some very interesting artworks occupy the walls. Most of the artworks have been submitted by the creative minds in the agency itself. To give an idea of the creative brains in the agency here is a video that shows a doodling activity by the team.
Doodling is the brooding of the mind #Weelend #Team #Doodle A video posted by Chimp&z Inc. (@chimpandz) on
Another important aspect the agency takes care of is there being no division between the creative and tech teams. The entire team sits together and if there are any divisions then they are based on the brands or the customers they are serving. “Even at outings, we either have an entire team outing or we send brand teams for outings. We don’t buy the idea of having a separation between creative and tech team.”
There is a small cafeteria with a long wooden bench and right next to it is a small lounge which is still developing. This is a space with a lot of cushions, bean bags often used for creative brainstorming. The space is still building up and also has a guitar for jamming. Here’s a picture of the team having a relaxed evening in the lounge.
Chimp&z nights. #fullhouse #afterhours #fridaynights A photo posted by Chimp&z Inc. (@chimpandz) on
While we are talking about jamming, I was informed that the agency has a small band and has plans to go big soon. “I have a love towards art and would also love to open an art gallery in the near future.” Apart from this, both brothers are passionate about bikes and travelling, so they have formed ‘The Great Indian Bikers’ that going further will drive content and commerce.
While wrapping up our discussions in the lounge, Angad made it clear that he has no intention to stay small and wants to grow quick. However he is very clear that he doesn’t want to build a 300 plus team and give up on quality. “I want to have 10 offices around the globe with not more than a 30 people team.”
Saying that he also informed about the hiring process being tough, and at the same time Chimp&z invests heavily on employee training and development. “We are very casual at work but not with work,” he added while sharing that he weights intent more than talent. “If you are for a committed marriage then we are the best place to work at and have good fun. But we are not for your one night stands.”
These work ethics and open environment of free flowing thoughts have helped the agency have a healthy retention rate.
Walking back for a quick lunch, Angad is again mobbed by his people for approval on his presentation while Lavinn is busy meeting up a new client.
I quietly walk back to the conference room where the food has already been delivered. I have a tough job now to wait for the co-founders without touching the food.
This agency feature series has been brought to you in association with Chimp&z Inc, a Mumbai based digital agency.