It’s often joked that once you finish Engineering, you start figuring out what you want to do with your life. In more cases than we know it is true. You’ll come across many engineers who then pursue other non-technical fields. One such Engineer turned Marketeer, Founder of All Stars Digital Riddhi Chhabria Asrani, is still on a path to pursue what lies ahead.
I studied at Thadomal Shahani Engineering College and got my degree, Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science. We used to have workshop classes in my first year engineering, where we actually tried our hand at welding, plumbing, sawing. I was so bad at it, at the end of my first semester I was worried if I’ll fail because I can’t cut wood. Luckily, I didn’t. But I had a subject scare each semester, somehow there was one subject in all 8 semesters where I just passed. It was a different experience. I have literally tried connecting circuits, engineering drawing, mechanics, Artificial Intelligence and don’t get me started on the amount of coding we had to do. 2 years into engineering, I knew, a lifetime of it is not my cup of tea.
I will never forget my first interview, it was my 6th semester and I needed to figure out what’s next. All my friends and classmates were discussing which companies they would interview for. I made up my mind that I’m not interviewing for any of the recruiters. I wanted to go abroad and get a degree that will provide me with a direction, but to do that I’ll need some experience first. A friend of mine worked at an e-commerce company, she asked me to apply in her company and try my luck. I was 19. I made a CV, sent that email and hoped I would receive a call. I did get an interview and a night before, I googled SEO and SEM. The first time my fingers ever typed anything related to marketing. I remember it like it was yesterday. I went for the interview knowing nothing more than the full forms of those 2 abbreviations. Needless to say, my interview was a disaster. The person interviewing me pointed out the spelling mistakes in my CV, asked me how I plan to work if I have college until 5 every day and why should he hire me if I am confident not to work for more than 6 months.
I learned 2 things that day, always spell check your CV before every interview and it is not at all easy to get a job/internship on your own merit. This very person, who was the first to interview me, was one of my first clients when I returned from NYU and started my agency. He taught me one more thing, if someone is trying hard why not give them a chance one way or the other. After the debacle, I called an interview, I swamped myself in getting into the best university, there’s no way I could go home and tell my parents I didn’t apply to the top 4 companies and didn’t get into any university.
Two things happened that year, both life changing. First, I got into my dream school, New York University – School of professional studies. It was the best day of my life when I read the words “We are glad to inform you that you’ll be joining our campus in the fall of 2016.” I called my father, Mr. Nagesh Narayandas Chhabria immediately and I screamed on the phone, I’m confident he still remembers how excited I was. He always pushed me to do better. After 10th, pushed me to take up science, encouraged me to pursue engineering and never ridiculed my wish to go to my dream school.
Second important thing that happened that year was my first internship at Viacom-18. I disagree with my mom, Mrs. Nisha Chhabria. I told her I don’t see the point of working now when I have to leave for New York in 4 months. My mom told me that my engineering is done, instead of wasting time at home I should use the opportunity in hand and figure out what in marketing I’d prefer. In the beginning I hated it, not my work, waking up early on a vacation. But one week in, I loved it. I’d wake up without an alarm, that’s how excited I used to be to go to work. Voot had just started and I was assigned to its branding team. The amount I learned in my 3 month internship at VOOT is much much more than what I learned in a semester. Forever grateful to my mother for constantly making me do things she knows is good for me while I still take a little more time to see.
The good days arrived, I started with my MS in Integrated Marketing at one of the finest schools in the world in a city that is filled with opportunities. I was fortunate that I did not have to struggle for work in the States, studying at a good school and experience from a big media company made all the difference. I worked for more than 18 months there. 4 months before my course ended I had a full time job opportunity. I chose to return. That’s a lie, I didn’t want to. I enjoyed my comfortable and rather easy life there, but my parents and my brother Sumukh, had more faith in me than I ever did. Let’s say, they are the main reason I started ALL STARS DIGITAL. 7 years ago the terms whose meaning I didn’t know, now I can perform them, provide your brands with them and sell them to anybody like a PRO. We have 3 offices spread across India, setting our eyes on an international one as our 4th. With 60+ full-time and 30+ part-time employees, we are growing and how. We work with some of India’s biggest companies, and also provide our services to some international companies. This year, along with my team I’ll be launching a new venture that will change the way the graphic design industry works, who knew a girl who couldn’t write an algorithm straight in 2012 is launching a software in 2022, which is as technical as it gets and has abbreviations whose meaning the girl still doesn’t know. Rixero is my second venture, it will cater to both domestic and international design requirements. Not bad for an engineer, right?
It’s been 7 years, I’ve called myself a marketeer. I often think what is marketing. I always end up with the same answer, “selling” if you know how to sell, your life is already a lot easier. First sell your services to a client, then sell your clients’ services/products to their customers. It’s that simple. The catch here is to sell, you need to have confidence, not just in what you are selling but yourself. If you have that, you are golden.