Faisal Amin lives, breathes and dreams digital marketing. His agency Fruitbowl Digital has a “knack of creating international buzz.”
What’s your story?
I am the co-founder of Fruitbowl Digital. I have been central to the advertising and marketing industry for over 7 years, working with brands such as BMW, Zodiac, Reliance, Murugappa Group, IDFC Bank, Society Tea and the Karvy Group. As the Strategy and Marketing Head for Fruitbowl Digital, I lead a full service marketing agency that creates creative communications for companies and brands around the world, with a team of 60 plus people in three countries. As a Founder, Business Development Director, IT Turk, Head Talker, Ideator, Twitter Influencer and award-winning Campaign Creator, I live, breathe, dream and walk Fruitbowl. Other businesses that I have been involved in are; Kira, a retail ERP solution, driven through a mobile application and Co.lab.oratory, which is a 220 seating capacity, co-working space in the heart of Mumbai city.
What excites you most about your industry?
As a serial digital entrepreneur, I started my career humbly. I pursued a management degree from the finest and the oldest institute in India and saw a future in integrated e-commerce when people were not even aware of it. Realising, the decision-making processes in big places were often tedious, I became a decision-maker myself. Cutting out the time wasted on unnecessary discussions and meetings, I focused on making results oriented decisions with low time wastage. This is exactly what excites me about the industry.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in the most integrated country for global business opportunities, India. I feel deeply connected to India as the place of my birth and as a global business destination. I was born and raised in one of India’s greenest cities; Bhopal. To everyone’s knowledge, India is as diverse as the whole of Asia, especially when it comes to growth potential and the dynamics of people interaction. While growing up, I not only studied but also celebrated each and every culture, language and the lifestyle. To enhance my sense of belonging, I have been to most parts of India and a couple of places in Asia as well. I see an immense scope for growth from within Asia, branching out to the rest of the world and I strongly believe that Asia is where my true calling is.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Mumbai, without a doubt. It is my first preference for building businesses within Asia. With the resources, investment interest and potential for development that are higher than most other cities, Mumbai is where I chose to initiate three major businesses. With the ever-growing and extremely dynamic Indian markets evolving to digital platforms and the business people always hungry for better and more opportunities, cities like Mumbai, are the centre for economic collaborations and the best source of business opportunities that could potentially take the world by storm.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always think of what’s next.” This is something a professor once told me when I was just starting. He always had one firm belief during all his years as an investor and entrepreneur, which was that ‘the next step is even more important than the current one.’ To this day, I resonate with and practice that very thought. For any endeavour to always be efficient, there has be a Plan B ready before Plan A can even be considered for implementation. When you put your idea into effect, uncertainty is a definite, unless you already know exactly what is going to happen. In a market as dynamic as ours, investing in any potential business venture, although risky, is incredibly rewarding if done right. Knowing where my decisions will lead me, and always having a strategy to tackle every possible contingency, has made me the man I am today, and has allowed me to make the majority of the financial decisions I have made in the past.
Who inspires you?
There are two words that the man I look up to constantly talks about, and has used to inspire a generation of entrepreneurs and decision-makers. The words I refer to are “dream bigger” and the man in question is none other than Steve Jobs. These two words, coming from the man who asked “how” more often than “what,” contained the wisdom that pushed me to do things differently. He always spoke of reinventing and pushed the people he worked and interacted with, to see things differently and create what others thought impossible. There is a difference between walking into an Apple retail store and any other store, and that reason is Steve Jobs giving his team the freedom and motivation to think outside the limits of regular retail to create a sensation that is unlike any other. The man who always strived to do things differently has, without a shred of doubt, single-handedly put me on the path of doing different things, my way. He has motivated me to work with my team towards bigger, unimaginable, but definitely possible things.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Blockchain is a technology that has been known about and in-use for sometime now. But, I recently read about some of the additional applications of the technology and the potential power it can give regular people. Blockchain is a digital method of record-keeping, which means there is no central authority required to keep track of all the stages of transactions. Because the network of computers involved in that transaction all maintain copies of the full blockchain, every participant has the complete and transparent history of what’s going on — which, in theory, should make that transaction more secure (especially because it’s really hard to break off a block due to the sophisticated encryption). Blockchain has the potential to be used for almost any type of transaction, especially financial, such as trading stocks or other assets that require middlemen. Blockchain could help make these processes more efficient, while eliminating the middleman, and could also help businesses keep track of the supply chain, while also helping the average person purchase services without having to go through an agency.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
In the 7 years that I have been running my business, I have seen quite a prominent learning curve. If I could do it all over again, I would do exactly the same things we did, with the same people involved, but at a much faster rate. Using the knowledge we have acquired over the years, we could potentially bring our business to the same place it is at, or even further in less than half the time. Such is the boom and curse of knowledge; more often than not being acquired only after the need for it has passed, but at the same time enabling you to learn from mistakes, and optimize future outcomes.
How do you unwind?
A fresh brew of black luwak jolts me out of bed followed by a game of squash. After an energising run, I get ready for a challenging but interesting day at work filled with meetings and commitments. Between balancing my schedule among FruitBowl, Kira and Co.Lab.Oratory and going through a heap of approvals, a tantalising cup of green tea keeps me energised. Following a fun but chaotic day at work, I let loose by meeting new people and listening to some Frank Sinatra on my way home.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
If I had to pick one destination, it would have to be the Gili Islands of Indonesia. The white sands coupled with the pristine waters, really appeal to me. These islands are paradise for me.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Jeffrey Gitomer’s magnum opus ‘The Sales Bible’ is a must read for anybody looking for guidance in the sales and marketing industry. In his book, Gitomer uses his decades of sales experience to show us just how one can make the most of their own skills, and hone them to potentially close a sale. Gitomer says,“Don’t blame yourself. Take responsibility for it. Learn from it and then do something about it!” He teaches people, the perfect attitude to have in the sales industry, and talks about what’s necessary to confidently and effectively make a sale.
Shameless plug for your business:
Fruitbowl Digital is one of the top 10 digital marketing agencies in the country, catering to over 200 clients, with the knack of creating international buzz.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.