Parna Sarkar-Basu had spent the bulk of her career working in marketing for tech companies when she decided to start her own company, Brand and Buzz Marketing, in May of 2018. “We focus primarily on corporate marketing, branding, and thought leadership, working with companies that are looking to pivot or raise funds,” she says.
Early in her career, Sarkar-Basu worked for iRobot and spearheaded the company’s pre-IPO corporate messaging. “When I joined the company, people only knew the product — Roomba,” she says. “And I had seven or eight months to get us ready for the IPO, working with the executives and peers, building the corporate brand and the robot ecosystem. You don’t do an IPO based on a product; you need to build and boost the company brand.” So she helped position iRobot as a robot company — not just a maker of cool vacuum cleaners — by working with the founders on messaging, educating analysts, creating the robot ecosystem, and organizing events. “If I got three hours a sleep a night, I felt privileged,” she says.
After working with several more companies, helping founders and transitional leaders to position or reposition their brands in advance of launching a company or fundraising, Sarkar-Basu decided it was time to strike out on her own. “After our kids graduated from college, I was sitting with my husband, having a glass of wine and he said, ‘You had once talked about starting your company. This might be a good time.’” After some initial hesitation, she decided to take the plunge, and is glad she did. “I love what I do and now I can work with multiple companies. I also serve on several boards to support women in technology. Being an entrepreneur gives me a lot more flexibility and I feel much more fulfilled because I’m able to help companies, as well as help women founders get off the ground.” One of the boards she serves on is Women in Technology International (WITI).
Sarkar-Basu joined Forbes Communications Council around the time she started her company. “First and foremost, I needed people to be able to find me online,” she says.
Sarkar-Basu says that her secret sauce is “humanizing technology and humanizing brands.” She says that the biggest mistake leaders make when they’re looking to refresh their brands is focusing on elements such as logos and graphics. Instead, she says, companies should first focus on corporate positioning and messaging, and look to humanize their brands so that customers can connect with and love not just the products, but the company. “You spotlight leadership and employees because they’re the ones running the company and developing innovative solutions,” she says. “I feel that’s probably the part that most people miss — letting the world know what kind of people work there.”
Another common pitfall: technology founders who are fixated with the technical capabilities of their products and neglect to tell the story behind the innovation. “They’ll go into the weeds of the product versus talking about how the product helps society or helps people,” says Sarkar-Basu. “So when I’m talking about a technology or working with the startup, I like to find out first, what is the founder’s story? Why did they come up with the product? Because tech for tech’s sake doesn’t really help. But if you talk about a technology that is built by humans for humans to solve a societal problem, that makes it much more interesting.”
Sarkar-Basu joined Forbes Councils around the time she started her company. “First and foremost, I needed people to be able to find me online,” she says. “Forbes Councils allows me to write about topics that I care about and specialize in, and provides a platform for my voice.” She’s a regular contributor with Forbes Councils, where she writes about technology trends and thought leadership. That content, she says, helps position her as an expert and gives potential new clients confidence that “I know what I’m talking about.”