Start-ups Forced to be Creative to Compete with Creative Behemoths Creativity stems from allowing creators to work fearlessly

By Deepa Vaidya

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Wakefit recently took a dig at Ikea's store launch in Bengaluru through their quirky print ad. Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founder, Wakefit, personally oversaw the campaign. Ramalingegowda was interested in writing poetry and stories right from childhood. He says, "I also made up stories then. So, fiction and storytelling, was really interesting. Influences for storytelling come from everywhere, basically, mythology, movies and books. Second, during MBA, one of my most favorite classes was creative advertising."

On the magic formula that increases his odds of a creative breakthrough, says Ramalingegowda, "I think the magic formula for Wakefit has always been, listening to customers plus, letting the creative team work with utmost freedom and without fear of failure, resulting in great campaigns for us."

So when balancing creativity and business, he says Ramalingegowda, "In the case of start-ups, you are forced to be creative every single day, because you are competing with much larger companies who have been around for 30-40 years. We are forced to be creative, every single day, because we are operating on a much smaller budget, we are operating on a brand that people may or may not even be aware of. So as a start-up, the business and creativity cannot be separate. They have to be intertwined by definition."

Wakefit's products cater to middle-class households, helping them get economical and beautiful furniture.

"The best way to find out what our customer needs is to talk to them. The source of inspiration and source of knowledge on what customers like, what they want, and what is keeping them anxious, or happy is only because we talk to them daily," he says.

"We are only present in India till now. In the offline retail space, we are present in about 10 stores that we have created in seven cities and this will be increased to 25 by the year end," he adds.

His three-point advice to people who are creative, but can't think scale. He says, "Number one, if you are not authentic and just doing something superficially, people notice. Number two, for scale, you need very powerful ideas, the strength of the idea is important. Number three, when you have creative people in your team, trust them and don't micromanage them. They will then surprise you with really amazing results."

On their future plans, says Ramalingegowda, "Immediate goal for this financial year is to cross INR 1,000 crore in revenue. The road to achieve that growth is by being able to deliver furniture to more pincodes, add more products to the furniture catalogue and number three, open more stores."


Amount of external funding received : INR 435 crore

No. of people employed : 1,500

Turnover - INR 636 crore (for FY '22). For FY '23 the target is to cross INR 1,000+ crore.

Year of Inception : 2016

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