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Working the Crowd

Rahul Sachitanand     June 9, 2010

Two classmates from management guru Bala Balachandran's Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, believe they have a way for millions of small and medium businesses to make the best of their marketing spends. Instead of squeezing budgets, scouting for and dealing with advertising agencies, these businesses can register with Jade Magnet, a virtual market place designed by Sitashwa Srivastava, 29, and Manik Kinra, 27.

Jade Magnet actually started off as CreADivity, an MBA project that was part of a series of guest lectures. But after picking up their MBAs, Srivastava worked at Cognizant and Kinra at CSC for two years before they joined up again to become entrepreneurs.

After forming their company, the two entered it into the Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme of The Indus Entrepreneurs, where they got a brand makeover-to Jade Magnet-and a lot of attention from advisors and (potential) investors.

"When I first met Sitash and Manik, I found that they were not only passionate but razor sharp focussed about crowd-sourcing," says Muki Reghunathan, industry veteran and angel investor in the company.

Srivastava says Jade Magnet has been able to sign on nearly 1,500 providers in a year, and these providers have delivered over 200 projects to 50 clients.

Kinra, explaining the hassles that small companies face, says, "Signage and out-of-home, for example, have different vendors who work on wordof-mouth for business. As a small business you may not have the resources to deal with all of them." Jade Magnet claims to have got significant traction in India, and now plans to get an increasing share of its revenues from overseas.

Like many of his online peers, it will have a clickand-brick model, with account managers expanding Jade Magnet's bouquet of services. "We remove your headache of managing resources and help you service clients sitting anywhere in the world with no investment," says Reghunathan.

FOCUS: Digital media

FUNDING: From Muki Reghunathan, Founder and CEO of Pepper Square

ADDRESSABLE MARKET: Two million start-ups in India and 60,000-plus new businesses being established in the US

COMPETITION: Freelancers, small advertising agencies

BUSINESS: 2,500 service providers on their platform

OUR BIG MISTAKE AND WHAT WE LEARNT FROM IT: Building a strong brand from the ground up. We started off as CreADivity but had to look for a better name since people couldn't pronounce or place us

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