It is a general belief that if a person does not have any connections and money, he can’t run a successful business.
“This is not at all true,” said Late Mr. C D Ramachandran, a well known name in the Indian advertising industry who spent 47 successful years in the industry. Mr. Ramachandran should know, considering that he had only around Rs. 600 in his pocket when he set up his own agency in the seventies. “That too, I happily blew up on a champagne party I held at the house of a close friend. My wife was working with State Bank of India at that time so I thought daal chawal ghar mein mil hi jaayega and I became an entrepreneur.”
Mr. Ramchandran was born in Trivandrum, and growing up, moved around with his father who had a transferable job and finally came to Bangalore. He had just finished his schooling when his father passed away at the young age of 42. “We were a large family and not financially well off at all, so I decided that I should contribute to the family. After passing Matric, I went to college for a year, and then went into stenography, which was the fastest way of getting a job. I came to Bombay and joined a legal firm called Little & Company,” he said.
One of the managers there, a foreigner, liked the way Mr. Ramachandran went about his work and made him hisclerk. “A Clerk,” explained Mr. Ramachandran, “plays a key role in a legal firm – goes to court, adjourns the cases, does stenography etc. I learnt a lot.”
Mr. Ramachandran was very moved and impressed by Swami Vivekananda and his teachings, so he read up a lot on him. One day, he saw an ad created by the advertising agency – Everest, for their client Amrutanjan that featured Swami Vivekananda. “I found factual errors in the text of the ad. I wrote to Amrutanjan pointing out the mistakes. They forwarded the letter to Everest and I got a call from the agency asking me to meet them. I did so and ended up getting a job offer from them. At that time, I was earning Rs.142 and I was offered Rs.167. I joined.”
Mr. Ramachandran did very well in Everest. Looking at his writing skills, the Agency asked him to do proof reading of copy. He finessed his writing along the way. “Two Senior Copywriters, Mr. Dorab Sopariwalla and Ms. Arnavachha Gandhi liked me and taught me the elements of copywriting,” he states. From copywriter he was promoted toAssistant Account Executive when he was just18 years old.
While at Everest, Mr. Ramachandran worked two additional part-time jobs so that he could support his family in Bangalore as well as himself. “I worked at one place in the morning from 8 to 9 am, then spent the day at Everest, and after went to another place in the evening from 6 to7 pm. I spent 4 years at Everest and when I left my salary was Rs. 202. I then joined another advertising agency –Dattaram, and post that an agency called F D Stewart as an Account Executive. I was 23 then.”
While at F D Stewart, Mr. Ramachandran’s boss at that time passed away. The Chairman asked him to take over the responsibilities of the Bombay branch and Mr. Ramachandran became the Resident Representative. He was in the branch for 10 very successful years.
The urge to become an entrepreneur…
“I came to a decision that I would like an Agency where I could do things my way, so I started Imageads. A friend had promised a small room at Kitab Mahal on D N Road for me to set up my office and so I went ahead and had my champagne party.”
The initial months were very difficult but Mr. Ramachandran was fortunate that his friends supported him. Slowly and steadily, Imageads grew in size and stature. Around that time, the Chairman of F D Stewart retired and Mr. Ramachandran requested him to become the Chairman of Imageads to which he agreed. Thanks to the professional approach and innovative and creative way the Agency functioned, business flourished. They opened their first branch office in Chennai, then came an office in Bangalore. Hyderabad and Delhi offices followed. As the strength of the team increased in leaps and bounds, new properties were acquired in Nariman Point, Mumbai to support the growing organisation.
With the turn of the century and as India moved towards a global arena, it was clear to Mr. Ramachandran that the preference of large clients was shifting to equally large agencies with a wide array of specialized strengths. In a strategic move,he decided to partner with another medium sized agency. However, while this ‘marriage’ started off well, fissures grew primarily on the style of functioning and the insistence of Mr. Ramachandran to follow the ethical practices he had lived by throughout his life. Mr. Ramchandran decided to move out and went into publishing.
Taking a tough decision
“The toughest decision always is to exit from any business which you have nurtured and grown over the years. Yet, there comes a time when you need to block your emotions and take a planned and conscious step to devote your time to the family, leisure and spiritually enhancing activities. I took that decision,” Mr. Ramachandran said.
Mr. Ramachandran had one son and one daughter. His son Kaushik is married to Simran, while daughter Kavita is married to Nikhil and they have two children
“Live your life well,” advised Mr. Ramachandran. “Take calculated risks, chase your dreams but ensure that you live up to the highest principles in life. When you have to take tough decisions, weigh all the options and then go ahead unerringly with the desired objective in mind. And when you finally call it a day, make sure that your slate is clean, all your dues are paid so that people greet you with a smile whenever you meet them afterwards.”
After a glorious life, Mr. C D Ramachandran passed away a few years ago.