One of the biggest NOs in the start-up community is to publicly share your hacks and hustles that especially the ones, which fetch you big success lest someone might copy it. That’s a real shame, we thought. Sharing the heroic success we had with our unconventional and awesome means of marketing tactics (I’m bragging, don’t mind!) can be a great tool for others to learn from.

In fact, we believe that our case study is hopefully uniquely insightful for lots of people. Here is why: we are about to share a marketing hack for startups to get over to get over 1 million impressions, 438 social media posts, 19 short videos, and at the same time raised money for children’s education in 3 Days with a cost of mere 7,500/- rupees

We have a “joke a day” thing in our office, where one person shares a joke on slack for everyone. Once this was shared:

Father: I want you to marry a girl of my choice.
Son: “I will choose my own bride!”
Father: “But the girl is Bill Gates’ daughter.”
Son: “Well, in that case…OK”
Next Day
Father approaches Bill Gates.
Father: “I have a husband for your daughter.”
Bill Gates: “But my daughter is too young to marry!”
Father: “But this young man is a vice-president of the World Bank.”
Bill Gates: “Ah, in that case… OK”
Finally Father goes to see the president of the World Bank.
Father: “I have a young man to be recommended as a vice-president. ”
President: “But I already have more vice- presidents than I need!”
Father: “But this young man is Bill Gates’s son-in-law.”
President: “Ah, in that case… OK”

It might sound like a silly joke, but it has a brilliant lesson embedded in it, With a good plan, one can go a long way”.

In my mailbox was a proposal from Sri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi (SRCC) seeking sponsorship for their annual management festival, Business Conclave (BC), for Rs. 50,000 to Rs.10 Lakh. A big hike this year because it was to be inaugurated by Mr. Sunder Pichai, and had an impressive list of participating colleges. Being a winner at the event for two years in a row in 14 & 15, I knew how wonderful this was, as an opportunity for students to sharpen and harness their management skills.

However, the competitions are designed by students themselves around fictional companies. A lot of effort and ideas are thus wasted, which could have been better utilised for resolving real-world problems.
So we proposed the organizers that we will provide them with real challenges and problems to solve. Also Flatle will sponsor the third prize worth Rs. 7,500.

Well, got a sponsorship deal worth Rs.50,000 for Rs.7,500.

Out of 1500 teams participating, 80 brilliant teams qualified for round 2.

We thought it would be best to tap their raw marketing skills and out of box thinking and create a pool of marketing material for Flatle. 

For marketing we required a mix of things, videos, blog posts, facebook campaigns, twitter campaigns, etc. However we could not assign everything to everyone – it will be too much work for them, and we could not assign just one thing each to everyone – it will be too much of one thing for us!

To get maximum of our work done by the enthusiastic students, we decided to design a game around it. I made this virtual real-time marketplace where points were determined on the basis of demand and supply. We set the demand of each content and the points would reduce if supply crossed the demand. We could control the amount of content being created without jeopardizing the freedom of contestants with our tool. You can find it here.

The kind of response we got was just great! Enjoy this sample creative video.

The creativity and ideation was just outstanding. However the designs in some cases were raw.

At the time, we were looking for a graphic designer. We had a lot of applicants for the role. We forwarded the raw designs to them to redesign as application assignments and hey look, what we got here, some crazy professional standard designs with 0 resources.

Now back to the main hustle, the entries were now looking so good, we decided to leverage SRCC’s brand name and the content to get more out of it. We contacted top NGO’s about a fundraising opportunity and tied up with SMILE foundation. The proposal was simple, SMILE would promote the social media posts created in SRCC’s BC for Flatle to raise funding for a social cause.

We now went back to SRCC and got a better deal for Flatle. We had SMILE promoting them to be fair. With this done, SRCC and Smile both promoted the posts through their websites and social media. Find about it here  and here.

The end result exceeded our expectations. We got 1 million impressions in a span of 48 hours, and we contributed to the noble cause of education of under-privileged children. 

Startup is all about smart work and not hard work.

[Guest article by Ritika Jain, cofounder of Flatle]