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Policybazaar Is The Story Of Persistence, Culture & Brand Building: Harsh Pamnani

Harsh Pamnani Booming Brands Policybazaar

The year 2008 wasn’t a good one to start a new business as the whole world was reeling under a recession. Insurance was a complex subject and consumers couldn’t relate to it but Yashish Dahiya broke the glass ceiling by starting Policybazaar. The sole aim of his business - making insurance a simpler subject for the consumers and eradicating mis-selling in the country.

Inspired by the story of Policybazaar, Harsh Pamnani, author of Booming Brands (a bestselling book, covering the inspiring journey of 11 ‘Made in India’ brands) decided to share the success journey of brand Policybazaar in the second volume of his book which was released in March this year. The first volume of the book was released in 2018.

PBLife caught up in a quick chat with him to discuss the book and why he chose Policybazaar’s story. Excerpts from the conversation:   

TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS AN AUTHOR. WHAT MADE YOU WRITE BOOMING BRANDS?
Branding has always been an area of passion for me. While I was pursuing MBA from XLRI, I used to read many biographies and business books to gain insights. One of the problems with these books was that they were filled with American and age-old examples. The brand-building strategies, which were in developed markets like America, may not be applicable to emerging markets like India. I firmly believe that reading about marketing and branding strategies of new-age businesses helps marketers and entrepreneurs in their endeavors. I interacted with many professionals, MBA students and professors, and they expressed that they want to know about new-age Indian brands like Policybazaar as the major source of information for them is media articles.

But, since the media covers what brands are doing to an extent and not much about why and how these brands were created, I saw a void that needed to be filled. I felt that I should write a book on how new-age Made in India brands are being created.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO INCLUDE POLICYBAZAAR AS A CASE STUDY IN YOUR BOOK?
Personally speaking, Mr. Yashish Dahiya's journey has inspired me a lot. The kind of impact it has created in people's lives is truly inspiring. Policybazaar’s journey is phenomenal and from a scope perspective, Booming Brands covers market leaders and their respective niches. It is considered as one of the most valuable startups and is also one of the very few popular and successful consumer internet companies in India. Today, people call it a unicorn and a very successful brand but its journey had its own share of difficulties when it was starting up. It went through many ups and downs: convincing insurance companies in onboarding, adapting to changing regulations by the insurance regulator IRDAI, etc. Keeping the motivation of the team intact in such difficult circumstances and creating an admirable brand after all these challenges is truly inspiring.

WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ABOUT POLICYBAZAAR'S STORYTELLING? WHY SHOULD CONSUMERS, STUDENTS & THE START-UP ECOSYSTEM KNOW MORE ABOUT IT?
Insurance is a complex subject and people get bored while reading about financial topics. Given the unattractiveness of the industry for the consumer, it's definitely not easy to connect with the consumers but Policybazaar’s stories in multiple forms have connected with consumers emotionally.

Sometimes in a humorous manner through ads by Kapil Sharma, Akshay Kumar, and Pankaj Tripathi. The kind of programs you run on TV channels with Mr. Vivek Law has created a lot of awareness around insurance and made it a simpler subject.  

People don't connect only with a business story, they also connect with the story of the founder and the challenges that the company faced. Overall, Policybazaar’s journey is an inspiring story of a start-up that preferred to evolve gradually rather than quickly by chasing valuation.

Anyone, be it a student, consumer, and entrepreneur can learn a lot about culture building, persistence, and brand building from their story. 

HOW HAS THE RESPONSE TO THE BOOK BEEN TO DATE?
Booming Brands has received a tremendous response. I would like to express my gratitude to leaders like Mr. Harsh Mariwala, Chairman of Marico; Mr. Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Enterprises; Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise, Professor Rishikesh Krishnan, Director, IIM Bangalore and others who gave me their precious testimonials. I am very grateful to CNBC TV18 for publishing my book. I received positive feedback from many marketing professors from prestigious business schools. For example, Dr S Ramesh Kumar, Professor, Marketing at IIM Bangalore said that “a student of Business should read this book after reading their textbook.” Dr. Anita Basalingappa, Professor, Marketing at MICA said that “I found it useful to refer to brand stories of new-age brands.” Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog also appreciated the book.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR LEARNINGS AS AN AUTHOR OF TWO BOOKS NOW, ESPECIALLY ON THE PUBLICITY & MARKETING SIDE?
According to me, a book is like a product and a great product is the foundation of a great brand. A writer can't afford to just focus on writing and leave marketing aside in today's competitive market. I have focussed on consistent communication and storytelling and that helped me in creating awareness about the book.
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