“It’s usually very easy to look back and allow the dots to join themselves and make a story out of it.”
In conversation with Raina De, an SCMC alumna, we learned about her business and her journey since graduating from college in 2017. With a specialization in Public Relations, Raina pursued her Masters in Marketing from the renowned ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Leaving her job during the initial stages of the Pandemic, Raina pursued her own venture, Marque & Brew – a brand consulting firm that helps new businesses grow. 7 months after exponential success as a Founder and Managing Director, Raina discusses how M&B came about, the impact of the pandemic on her firm, and how SCMC shaped her into the all-rounder she is today.
Coming from a business family background, Raina had prior knowledge about running a business. Even Though She is a media graduate and has a master’s in Marketing, she wanted to work for the commodity market. “ I wanted to build a product that would not be very brand-oriented, things like matchboxes and rice and sugar. You don’t look at their brands before buying them. I wanted to work in India for a couple of years and then start something on my own but the pandemic happened and I felt like this is it, so I just went ahead and started. It’s a no brainer that I’m in brand consulting because that’s what I studied over the last five-six years so that just felt like that right thing to do.”
Raina incorporates her love of storytelling with her work which allows her to help brands tell their own stories. “ When you build a brand, you feel like everything about a product is great but that’s not how the consumer looks at it so we try to kind of do all the research required regarding consumer behavior. Once we understand that, we can tell a startup or product ‘okay this exactly how the storytelling worked.’ Raina believes this helps in attracting investors and making the customers relate to the product.
While Raina thoroughly enjoys her job and working with brands, there is one thing she finds repetitive. “At this stage, I have to be the one to pitch to client ….so I’m on two-three calls every single day trying to (get) clients. I think for me it’s very related to sales and while I have a lot of respect for sales as a job profile, it’s not something I like to do.”
Having completed her Masters’s in Barcelona, Raina explained the difference between the work environment in India and the western world. “In the Indian industry, (clients) are on a call with you, you discuss what their needs are and then you send them a proposal. What happens is after you send the proposal, sometimes the client can’t pay that much or doesn’t want to do it anymore but they never get back to you… It’s something that the entire service industry faces. In the western world if they have any feedback, they (say) we can’t do this because of (a certain) reason. That’s one thing that I dislike about the industry but not per se about my job. This is something even my brother, who has been in the consulting sector and also has owned a company for the last ten years, faces… It’s not just me.”
Starting a business means having to take on a leadership role which Raina does remarkably well thanks to her confidence. “ I think I’m quite like a classic example of a female leader. I never shout, I never scold … suppose there are 20 workdays in a month. We work 20 out of those 30 days and out of those 20 days, 18 days I will say only good things to people working with me. It’s not about if you don’t know how to do some work. That’s something that can always be worked on but if you are callous in your work, then that’s something I cant help with. That’s the only place where I draw the line. I’ve been lucky that out of the many people I worked with I’m always faced with good ones.
Although Raina’s everyday work involves talking to her many clients and her 11 employees, she hasn’t been able to physically meet many of them during the coronavirus pandemic. “I know it’s been really bad for a lot of people but thankfully for me, it did not affect my work a lot. Your needs and your aspirations are low when you start a company but even if before I could launch my company, I already had (clients) which was brilliant, one of them is from Scotland so it was a big deal. Now that I’m in the 7th month, I need more clients, I need to grow faster, and now I’m getting greedy. Most of the business happens in person, you take a person up for coffee, you go for dinner with the founder of the company then you give your idea to that person, work on it, My father can do because he is going out of the house but for me, it’s more difficult because of safety reasons…(it’s) more difficult to connect with people, so that’s how the pandemic is more hitting from the new business perspective.”
Raina feels that her experience in SCMC has helped her a lot in her journey to M&B. From the 2017 batch, she was the internship and placement coordinator, head of the PR club, and Part of the core committee that organized Anukram.“I think I was the most excited person, on this planet, to be at SCMC, and everybody knows that all the professors know it, every student knows it, some hate me for it, but I really loved it because I chose (SCMC) over-engineering that I was preparing for. When I finally got through, I was extremely happy. I know this is quite controversial and a lot of people say a lot of things about how strict college is and the disciplinary action and the attendance but … many of my seniors will agree…if you can survive SCMC you can survive anything and because someone like me, survived SCMC with flying colors, way above the threshold. After I left, nothing was enough, no work was too much work anymore. In fact, a couple of influencers had issues with our company, one thing they said is ‘maybe our emails are not as immaculate as yours but that does not mean your right’. Even I did not realize it…in the last 7 years, my formal writing skills have peaked, it’s as good as a lawyer’s agreement, it’s completely watertight, nobody can hold anything against me. Being the jack of all trades also really helped me to be a part of conversations. Most of my job is about being liked by people and being thought of as someone whose voice matters. Knowing a little bit of macroeconomics, a little bit of history a little bit of aesthetics, and a little bit of photography a little bit of everything makes you a very good conversationalist. So in that way, as I said before, if I go back and join dots everything makes sense…work-wise it just sort of fell in place.”
“ In 2016 2017, I was at my peak in college… my scores were brilliant, I was partying a lot, I was lying to my parents a lot but they say if your scores are really good then saat khoon maaf, I felt like that was me. Every time I returned home to my parents, they had never been as disappointed in me as they had then and I didn’t understand why. Nobody cares about your scores if you’re a bad person.” Raina has reinvented herself and keeps pushing herself to be a better person. “ I’ve gone from just like a workaholic to whom success was a measure of how many job offers she has or how much money she is earning to… what am I doing for others? Am I really happy every day? It helps a lot. Your brain is quite calm and as an entrepreneur that’s so important because every single day you have things being thrown at you that make you believe that you’re not good enough. As long as I’m growing exponentially in my 20s, I’m good.” To Raina success isn’t about the “Gucci Shoes” or the “Paycheck” but self-improvement because she believes if one works on becoming the best version of themselves, money and success will follow.