Doyens of Digital Space : Cryptic Intel


Digital Space is an ocean.  The co-founders of Cryptic Intel Joe and Adi are examples of how to find opportunities and turn a tough market into an opportunity – a food for thought for other entrepreneurs.  Stars of Startups talked to Joe with inputs from Adi last week.

Stars of Startups: In the Digital space, which is very crowded how does Cryptic Intel makes sense to a customer?

Joe: Bangalore market surely is crowded with a lot of ad agencies especially the new ones which are starting up. When we started Cryptic Intel – we started with a mission – to help people add value to their business with our passion i.e.  Social Marketing. That’s when we realized the market is huge and that’s when we decided to go all Foods and Beverages (F&B). In fact we as an agency pioneered the exclusive F&B marketing space.

We have a strategy in place which is very effective and makes sense to the F&B sector. We take care of pub  or restaurant’s online front with a sole intention to improve their offline space. We handle the city’s top tier  and the most happening places in Bangalore and they agree with us too.

Our retention rate is about 96% and that means our first set of clients are still with us –  we have retained most of our clients since they signed up 2 years back and that’s really good considering the current market. We hire only from the best institutions – when it comes to designersers, be it Srishti school of art design, NID, London School Communication because we should have the best to deliver the best. No compromises!

We never say no – apart from our core we provide services like food and ambiance photography, offline marketing, consultation. research on target audience and demography etc., which sets us apart from all our peers.

SOS: How did the name ‘ Cryptic Intel’ happen?

Joe: It was coined by me, I am one of the two founders of Cryptic Intel.  Why the name? Because we deal with everything online and internet is very much cryptic by nature.  People often get lost in it and forget what they actually want because there are a lot of things social media has to offer. We are an intelligence firm which solves the navigation of internet marketing; and we create a clear roadmap for our clients to reach the right audience. Hence the name Cryptic Intel.

SOS: Please introduce the founding partners of Cryptic Intel

Joe: Aditya and I are the founding members of Cryptic Intel.

Joe Stephen
Joe Stephen, Founder Cryptic Intel Pic Courtesy: LinkedIn

I started Cryptic two years back while working with an MNC as a business researcher – right after my degree; I moonlighted into Cryptic’s business while with the MNC firm. Slowly but surely, I navigated the opportunities and roadblocks in the market. At that time, I saw way too many agencies trying to shoot off everywhere with both markets and claiming to take care of ‘social media’ – just because they’ve handled their personal social profiles since 2008!

I visioned the niche and focused idea of F&B social marketing. I later realized that there’s way too much business potential in Cryptic and quit the MNC firm and joined forces with the able Aditya to bring renewed energy into the business.

He enjoys a game of golf, and snooker.

Aditya Narayanan
Aditya Narayanan, Co-founder Cryptic Intel ( Pic Courtesy: LInkedIn)

Aditya is passionate marketeer and an entrepreneur with a proven track record of orchestrating growth and profits in highly competitive markets through aggressive, tactically designed strategies.  He is a professional who works unconventionally to meet his milestones.

With the changing market trends, scenario for marketing has been a challenging one and the only way to still stay in the market for any company is to understand consumer psychology which is changing at a very fast pace.

To keep up with the pace and to form new strategy and modify the old ones is what is my strengths. It is his 3rd business venture in Bangalore and he is just 25! Apart from business his interests lies in motor sports, travelling and teaching the underprivileged.

SOS: How big is your team?

Joe:  We currently have a team of 12 people all young and energetic and ready to conquer the world. We have got maestro designers, awesome campaign managers, out of the box creative thinkers, excited client servicing angels, BD birdies and the digital master chefs (that’s the founders).

SOS: What is ‘innovation’ in terms of your business?

Joe:  As mentioned before we pioneered the F&B social media with the optimal strategy in place. Our Cryptonite initiative was a big hit. Cryptonite is a community of food bloggers managed by Cryptic Intel & Debolina Ray (A food connoisseur with one of the highest follower base in Zomato, India, 1% of the top reviewers in South East Asia , Trip Advisor and her blog is rated the number one blog by Zomato, India) – the aim is to provide people with accurate information about a bar/restaurant and aims at improving the over all quality of experience in places.

We review and give active suggestion to restaurateurs so that they work on their weak spots to engage their patrons in a much better way.

SOS: You have shared that you have F&B focus. Your clientele reflects that. Can you explain why F&B?

Joe:  It’s simple – when we decided to focus on one market – we obviously went on a research spree and we came up with F&B because that’s probably the one of the few sectors which does not get affected by recession that badly and come on its ‘FOOD’ everyone has it three times a day and Joe being a major foodie – it didn’t take us much time to decide on this.

Everyone works for food- we literally work for FOOD! To add to this on social media we found that except for Cats & dogs – food was one thing which keeps going viral!

SOS: How do you think social media is making a difference in the growth of a business?

Joe:  We are purely a social media boutique first and everything else later! We consider social media as a powerful tool to market any business because about 70-85% of potential target audiences are on social media.

Word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing till date but right now in busy lives of people their status updates and comments acts as a word of mouth especially in Bangalore where people are glued to their computer screens.

When it comes to F&B – people go to a bar and they do two things with their phone.  1. Put their phone up for selfies 2. Look down their phone for check-ins and we try to capitalize and capture audience in their screen-time!

The  idea is to promote products , services or offerings on a platform where 70%-85% of your target audience spending about 8 to 10 hours a week and has engaging option! What better platform can one think of except for social media!

People are getting smarter and we need to keep with the changing environment and dynamically keep tweaking our strategies on real time basis and it’s really important to show what people want rather than bombard them with a whole lot of information which does not make sense – online platforms provide these options based of consumer interest, psychology and behavior.

Social media has improved a lot since 2006 and we have got various tools to measure everything and social media compared to search engine marketing still has the lowest investment to returns ratio.

SOS: What is your revenue model – outcome based or monthly fees? How does a customer measure his ROI with Cryptic Intel?

Joe: Anything online is a continuous process. Our revenue model works on a retainer basis. We give a three month trial period where the client can gauge our value and after the three month trial period we sign a 6 months or 1 year contract.

We have analytics and tools to measure the ROI for every campaign we do which basically tells the clients about the engagement, clicks etc., We also provide offline consultation to our clients because we think improving business through marketing is a marriage between offline and online efforts.

So for all the campaigns which run online, we have our conversion metric set on the offline level which is very helpful to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign. That means we don’t do campaigns which gather likes but increases real time traffic on the offline level. But at the end of the day social media is like a billboard on the information highway and we can show the information to the right set of people and grab their attention!

SOS: What are your plans for the future?

Joe: We are planning to expand to Chennai and Coimbatore in the last quarter of this year and Delhi this year end (financial year – March 2017). We are trying to expand our verticals to F&B consulting which we are moonlighting right now (we currently consult one of the biggest F&B players in the market – the name is classified information).

Short term goals are to capture markets in all the metro and tier II by end of 2017. Long term goals are to have global presence in about 12 countries by the end of 2024.

We are sure we would not move from the F&B space to explore other sectors and our services would only change a little as we have covered the whole online spectrum for every Restaurateur. However we have to change with the demand and dynamics of the industry and we are all well geared up for that.

Stars of Startups wish Joe, Adi, and team Cryptic Intel, a strong appetizing growth!

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