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Dilip Keshu is Chief Executive Officer at Group FMG. Prior to this role he was the chief customer officer of Xchanging, a FTSE listed company where he ran sales, service and relations globally. Prior to that he helped grow and eventually list a company called Scandent Solutions which later changed its name to Cambridge Solutions. Cambridge Solutions was acquired by Xchanging in 2008.
Dilip has worked and lived in India, Singapore, London and in both coasts of the US. He has been an entrepreneur and worked for companies specializing in software products (Cincom and Baan), services and managed outcomes.
Group FMG is an international media agency that provides solutions in creative design, commerce enablement, mobile solutions and media production services underpinned by analytics, technology, domain skills and process excellence to help companies adapt to the new marketing environment. The company’s strap line is “We help guide brands through change” – change brought upon by the solomoco phenomenon – social media, localized content, mobile devices and commerce.
MO: You’re actually an engineer with masters in aircraft production. How have you ended up running a media agency surrounded by artists instead of working with engineers?
Dilip: Getting into uncharted territories tests the elasticity of one’s competence. From working on a shop floor with numerical control machines in an aerospace company to taking an business services company public has been an interesting journey of discovery and transformation with mixed results – but I would not trade the experience for any other.
I believe in the ASK principle, which simply put is Ask, or you will not know; Seek or you will not find; Knock or doors won’t open. I felt understanding the world of creative design and marketing would be a good next step for me, even if different from what I have done over the many years. So I “asked” and a door opened into a world of artists.
MO: How is Group FMG is uniquely placed to drive marketing results across industry sectors through effective, accelerated cross platform solutions? What are you doing differently than your competition?
Dilip: Group FMG is at its core a media production company. We also do creative services and commerce enablement. The bulk of what we do is the production of video, photography and digital copy. We also specialize in pre media work for publishers. There are many people who say they do all of this!, so in order to differentiate ourselves we have created “enablers” (in the form of technology frameworks that can be reused, domain skills, process methodologies and analytics) that are wrapped around our services. We then take these offerings to customers in commercial structures that are designed to work for clients. Every client is special and different so we customize our engagement models so earn the right to be their agency of record for creative services, production or (e/m) commerce.
MO: How did your background and experience lead you to write the book, The Nine Dots: Handbook for Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs?
Dilip: Entrepreneurship is a journey within and is about self-discovery – you realize what you like and don’t, what you can do well and can’t. Young professionals often ask the question – should I become an entrepreneur? I asked the same question of myself in 1999 and took the plunge. Looking back at my journey I have often wondered if I was a better managerial entrepreneur, being on my own or an entrepreneurial manager working for a company. In the end, my journey helped me answer this question and so I thought I would put it down in a book to help young professionals who are thinking of entrepreneurship.
MO: Can you explain your theory of the “complex simple” and the “simple complex” and how understanding this concept can add greater meaning to both work and life for entrepreneurs?
Dilip: We spend a third of our lives working and a third living (it up). We go to work every day believing that we are solving complex problems and issues. We see work as complex stuff. Life on the other hand seems simpler. In my opinion, it is the exact opposite. Life is complex and work is simple. To clarify my position, I inserted the adjectives, simple and complex before the words complex and simple, knowing well that this would cause even more confusion but that was intended. I feel people should think about these things much more than they do and find a meaningful life-work balance.
Think about these questions you may face at work:
When is the shipment going to arrive? Why is the software not working? I have run out of budget, what do I need to do?
How do I pick someone to be a partner for life? What happens if I miss my daughter’s dance recital? What are the implications if I adopt a child?
You get the point. Work is simple but we make it complex. Life is complex but our treatment of it, simple. It is food for thought.
MO: You’ve recently expanded into the Asian market. What did your strategy for expansion entail and how much did you have to pivot your business model during the process?
Dilip: This is a world without borders. I see passports as man-made instruments to travel between “work zones”. The modern generation of business thinks global, acts local. We did the same. Our production centers in Asia are totally integrated with our centers in the US and London so we did not have to transform our business in any material way. Asia is a huge market and our presence there will serve as an anchor for local business as we progress.
MO: What is your strategy for going global but still maintaining the core of your brand and high levels of customer service?
Dilip: I am a fan of Pine and Gilmore’s ladder of offerings – from Goods (basic) to Services (differentiated) to Experiences (memorable) to Transformations (inspirational). All over the world our customers ask for memorable or inspirational experiences. We seek to provide that. We are not always successful but this is our aspirational goal. If we succeed we will go global with our clients while maintaining high levels of service. Expansion will not be out of sync with our clients or at the cost of the experience we deliver to clients.
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