Four nineteen year old guys + Rs. 16 thousand each for a fun trip to Goa = Total Blast in the party capital of India. However, the formula didn’t work that way for Pratik, Paritosh, Harshil and Suveer. As they decided otherwise. In that summer of 2008, the only thing they knew and was sure of was that they didn’t want to do a routine internship in some company like their peers. And Voila! FoxyMoron was born as a summer project. FoxyMoron that started with just Rs. 64 thousand in Mumbai, now has an annual turnover of over Rs. 250 million with a total strength of around 150 people in Mumbai, Delhi and Nashik. They work with some of the biggest brands in the country – L’Oreal Group (L’Oreal Paris, Garnier,Maybelline), SAB Miller (Foster’s, Miller High Life, Knockout), Castrol, Rajasthan Royals, AXN, McVities, StarSports – to name a few among many. FoxyMoron now turns five years old and these four creative minds turn only 24 years young.
One of the Foxy guys, Pratik Gupta, was in Delhi and we had a chance to catch up with him over lunch. It was one of the best meetings we had till date with Pratik talking candidly about their venture, their amazing ways of working, growth of FoxyMoron and lots more. In an hour long exclusive conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, Pratik takes us through the FoxyMoron journey so far and their future road map.
The Birth of FoxyMoron:
We were planning to go to Goa and had about Rs. 16 thousand each – the four of us. We didn’t go and that 16 thousand multiplied by 4 is all that we have ever invested into the company till date. And we should be doing something over Rs. 250 million turn over this year. The first piece of salary we gave out to people were literally pen-drives – which were a little expensive back then (laughs…). A lot of people in college wanted to work for us because we were looking to do fun work. We were young and had nothing to lose.
We just knew we wanted to do marketing, And we had absolutely no clue how to do it. We weren’t afraid of putting in the long hours and figuring out how to get something done. We did T-shirts to posters to promo videos; and one thing led to another. We sat down with a fun bunch of people, put our heads together and figured out how to do it and had a lot of fun doing it. And it’s been the case throughout the journey all these years. Otherwise it is impossible to put in the kind of hours that we put in to the work. And that’s what we are known for in the market even today: “Foxy can pull off anything that they commit to.”
The four partners at Foxy also fell into place. One of the founders, Paritosh – he made a website when he was 8-9 years old – he is twisted since back then (laughs…). I mean technology falls right in his lap. And fortunately we started off pretty early. So we had the space and liberty to make those mistakes. Everyone was making mistakes at that point. Fortunately, we got paid to make ours. From then on, it was just about doing good work.
Today, we are an end-to-end digital agency. We do everything in-house. We are a social media agency, we do SEO, we do website design and development, we do application design and development, we do video production – we have a video production team in-house. So anything and everything that is required in the digital space today, we are in a position to provide it.
The Foxy Way of Working:
We are a bunch of souls driven by passion, not numbers. For the love of things, at times, we do things for free. We did a website for a client in Bombay and we got the money that we wanted for the website. And this client was getting the logo done from somewhere else for xyz reasons. When we saw the logo, we hated it. But loved the concept, so we made a logo with the same concept which matches our site theme and gave it to him. He liked it and used it. We wanted the final product to come out well and we did the logo for free. Money is not important; we wanted the whole thing to look beautiful. Our objective always has been to do fabulous work.
We never looked into numbers. If it was left to Paritosh and me, we would be a broke company (laughs…). Only for the last one year that we have a CFO. Numbers don’t bother us and I don’t think it ever will. I remember when FoxyMoron was about two and half years old, we were offered a buyout deal. It was hefty change for us back then. We were 22 and somebody was offering a hell lot of money. But all four of us said without even looking at each other – “For what??”. I mean what could have been the worst case scenario – Foxy shutting down? We were 22, we hadn’t even started. And it was never about money. For us it’s like our first love.
We are not scared to ask stupid questions. I’d be sitting in between 100 people and be the first one to ask the dumbest question and not feel embarrassed about it at all. And that’s the culture within the organization. Everybody would ask the stupidest question to get made fun of and that’s fine. We are very disgustingly honest people (laughs…). That’s how we grow and make things happen.
We do a lot of things based on our gut. We take business based on gut, we say no to business based on gut. We do a lot of these things instinctively and they have more often than not turned out to be the right decisions. And we are happy to take those risks. Because the basic question remains the same – what do we have to lose? And as long as the answer remains the same, we don’t have a problem.
The First Big Break:
Our first break came through PVR Pictures. Mr. Ranjan Singh who used to head PVR Pictures back then happened to see our profile on a freelance work website. He called us up for a meeting and asked if we would be interested in doing a movie poster for them and we were like – “Sure, why not!” (with big grins). And then one thing led to the other and today FoxyMoron is handling some the biggest brands in the country.
Let’s Blow Some Trumpet:
For Maybelline, one of our clients, we won a Shorty in New York and till date we are the only Asian agency to have won that. Still there are some places where we are not up to our standards although we are industry standard. So we are looking at strengthening things. We have just launched our offline PR division. One of our key strengths is online PR, so now we are putting in the offline leg as well. We are also getting into big data. However, at the end of it, our focus is always on digital and that’s what we do.
Quality of work wise, I like to believe that there will be nobody who has worked with FoxyMoron and say that our service quality is not good. That’s been our key focus, always!
Most of our work comes organically and in fact I didn’t have to make a call to a client saying we are FoxyMoron till date. Our work speaks for itself and I am not being cocky about it. In fact, on the flip-side, we have had to say “Sorry, we can’t do it. We don’t have the bandwidth” to God knows how many businesses.
Some of FoxyMoron’s notable campaigns are:
- Garnier Men ‘PowerLight A Village’ campaign in collaboration with Project Chirag. An initiative digitally executed by FoxyMoron with an aim to light up hundreds of villages in India that are without any electricity.
- Maybelline New York India – Baby Lips Kiss Song featuring Alia Bhatt
- L’Oréal Paris “Jad se Judein” song with Mohit Chauhan. “Stay Rooted” with L’Oréal Paris Fall Repair 3X
The ‘Jad Se Judein’ video has got 1.8 million views within just two weeks of launch.
The Culture at FoxyMoron:
We have invested a lot into things in our office space to make it comfortable. We have a fun office space. We have Play-stations, Carom boards and other stuff. FoxyMoron has a very sound HR policy. People don’t leave us very soon. We have a very open working environment. We are all young people and have a blast in office. We are always in shorts in office and there has been times when people walk into the office and say “Who owns this place” and we’d point to some random guy saying he owns it because we’re so shabbily dressed (laughs…). So office is party for us. And that’s why I said, if you don’t love what you do and don’t love the people you’re doing it with, you can’t put in the hours that we put in. You can’t survive it – it’s not humanly possible.
A lot of people, who started as office-help with FoxyMoron now work in different departments. Somebody does SEO, somebody does graphics, somebody replies to emails. Our office is very open and we are happy to encourage and teach them different things and get them introduced to various courses. Someone who joined FoxyMoron as an admin guy, was only 8th standard pass then and now he is 12th standard pass, because we told him we’d not give him increments if he doesn’t pass every year. We have people who have become web designers and HTML experts from office-help. We give them the space and the exposure to grow as an individual. And that’s the culture we breed – FoxyMoron doesn’t have officers. I don’t even have a desk of my own (laughs…).
Internally for us, people are our milestone. We want to grow to 250-300 people. And whatever we need to do to get to that number is what we are looking at doing right now. We have clear and small goals – build business for the next 30-40 people, hire them, and stabilize. We are looking to making it a 250-300 people agency within the verticals of digital, PR, big data and then take it from there.
Role of Families Behind FoxyMoron’s Success:
I can’t even put it correctly how much the families have supported us in doing this. It’s not possible without them. We all come from business families. And we were not the dumbest people to start off with – I will take at least that much credit (laughs…). Parents had aspirations that we would carry forward their family business and things of that sort. But they never stopped us from doing anything. For the longest time they used to pay for our fuel, provide us with cars, drivers and also a lot of initial business came from them through their friends or friends of friends. Without their support it wouldn’t have been possible. When we face a hit, we go to them and tell them that we messed it up. It’s like the end of the world for us at that point. And they would ask us some very rudimentary questions that we fail to ask ourselves at that point and that put everything into perspective.
The FoxyMoron team has shown and proved that if one is driven by passion and dares to believe in self, it’s easy to scale the heights. Learning from their mistakes, growing with the industry leaders, FoxyMoron has now set very high standards for themselves and also in the process created benchmarks for others. It will be interesting to see, in the coming times, how these young guns fire and adapt to the changing trends of this wild competitive world of digital marketing. LifeBeyondNumbers wishes them great success ahead.