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We will start making acquisitions in the tech space: Wondrlab’s Saurabh Varma

In a chat with Storyboard18, Wondrlab India’s founder & CEO Saurabh Varma talks about the company's new platform WISR, growth plans of the martech firm, and more.

By  Saumya TewariAug 25, 2022 10:06 AM
We will start making acquisitions in the tech space: Wondrlab’s Saurabh Varma
Saurabh Varma, founder & CEO, Wondrlab India

Founded right in the middle of the pandemic (November 2020), martech firm Wondrlab has announced the launch of a technology-based platform called ‘WISR’ which plans to empower schools through brand partnerships. The platform is aimed at amplifying benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Schools can monetize brand partnerships through key pillars of sports, health, hygiene, and edutainment.

In a chat with Storyboard18, Wondrlab India’s founder & CEO Saurabh Varma talks about the company's new platform WISR, growth plans of the martech firm, and more.

Edited excerpts:

Could you tell us more about WISR?

We thought brands have done a lot of good. The power we have as communication professionals can be used to create value in the education space. There always have been brand-related school programmes but it was never done in a systematic way.

Brands that work on the pillars of health, hygiene, education, and experiences often don’t know how to reach out to schools and create value. For instance, if Nike wants to sponsor Sports Day across 1,000 schools, they don’t know how to take permission and manage it. Let’s say a sanitary brand wants to install disposable sanitary pad machines across 5,000 girls schools, and may find similar execution challenges. Therefore, we set out to change, that's leading up to the establishment of WISR, which connects brands to schools.

Essentially, we have inventoried schools. There are three levels of control – us, a council consisting of child psychologists, and the school itself. Post that, campaigns can be launched in schools at the touch of a button.

Have you signed any institutes/brands yet through WISR?

Currently, we have 1, 500 schools across 21 cities on the platform with a reach of close to a million students and three billion impressions across various inventories. We aim to onboard 8, 000 schools by the end of March, 2023. Essentially, we have found a mechanism through which brands can easily connect with schools. I believe students really need these experiences and schools can use the brand partnerships to build better infrastructure and improve teacher salaries. Students are also an extraordinary cohort with a huge population (220 million) and they have the ability to shape a brand’s decision-making.

Three brands will go live this week as we launch WISR.

We have been cash positive from day one and have never lost money. All our money has been used towards acquisitions.
How has 2022 been for Wondrlab in terms of team size and accounts so far?

We are just 16-17 months old as a network. We first acquired the content company What’s Your Problem (December 2020), influencer marketing platform Opportune (April, 2022), and performance marketing company Neon Digital (June, 2022). As of today, we are around 220 to 235 people strong and we work with more than 50 brands. We have deep meaningful relationships with our clients.

How has been your revenue growth?

We never share our numbers publicly. In our first year of operation ending March, 2022, we have over-delivered on every single business parameter.

When you have a plan, you get investors on board which is exactly what we did. We never wanted to build a small agency; we always wanted to build a network out of India. The numbers were already extremely ambitious but we have been following the “overpromise and overdeliver” philosophy and we have over delivered on all our parameters (revenue, PAT, net profit, gross profit, etc). We have been cash positive from day one and have never lost money. All our money has been used towards acquisitions.

The unique thing about us is that we are not just a service-led firm but also a product and platform-led firm. We have spent the last 10 months with a team of over 100 people building a tech-based platform like WISR and onboarding schools.

Wondrlab has recently launched Wondrlab Technologies as well to help clients transform their businesses and brands in the dynamically evolving Industry 4.0 digital landscape. Rajesh Ghatge joined as CEO of the new entity a couple of weeks back. We will start making several acquisitions in the technology space over the next few months.

Any recent interesting piece of work that you are proud of?

We have been doing real good work on brands such as Spotify and Chaayos but for me, the BharatMatrimony “Be Choosy” campaign stands out.

I have a 13-year-old daughter and I know that in India we have seen that choosing the better half has always been a man’s prerogative. Honestly, challenging this stereotype, creating an incredible platform, and coming up with new work every few months has actually been great. I also love the work we have done for femtech brand Nua featuring Deepika Padukone that addresses period-related taboos along with the work we did for Tata AIG featuring Ranbir Kapoor.

Have you met your ambitions of creating a network agency?

It’s never enough! When we look back we are just really grateful for the support of clients who have trusted and believed in us. The ambition is so big and time is so limited that you almost feel that anything you do is not good enough. There is this beautiful quote from Leo Burnett who I greatly admire – “When you lose that restless feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough…" I’m in this perpetual state of mind. We are also in such an early part of delivering on our ambition... it can’t be delivered in an 18-month period. I would say it is a glass half full situation. While there is a lot of satisfaction about where we are, there is always a feeling that we could do more.

First Published on Aug 25, 2022 7:00 AM