Punt Partners, a martech firm co-founded by Madhu Sudhan and Sidharth Rao, is navigating a new chapter following Rao's passing in April. The company aims to maintain its momentum and success, focusing on hires, culture creation, and addressing key client challenges.
Founded in September 2022, Punt Partners is backed by multiple internet founders and individual investors from the media, advertising, marketing sectors. Its first round of funding also saw participation from funds like Point One Capital, Namma Capital, Real Time Angel Fund, and the creative agency Talented.
Despite Rao's unfortunate demise, Sudhan and his team are committed to continuing the company's growth trajectory.
The firm is focused on strategic hirings across creative, performance, and martech areas. It emphasizes problem-solving for clients and aims to differentiate itself through its integrated offerings, strong data and tech capabilities, and a focus on martech.
Sudhan highlighted the importance of understanding marketers' core outcomes and integrating tech with marketing expertise. The company is working on building a culture from the ground up and is looking to attract top talent to achieve its goals.
Punt Partners' approach includes the concept of a "founder's circle," where they incubate and support entrepreneurial leadership. The firm aims to address the gap between traditional networks and true integration, offering a unique value proposition for clients.
It differentiates itself from other ad networks based on its focus on martech, data and tech abilities and a truly integrated offerings to clients.
Creating entrepreneur-led network
In an exclusive conversation, Sudhan tells Storyboard18 that the traditional ad networks grew by acquiring mature companies with strong culture and often acquiring several competing brands. It leads to a territorial approach in the network as people develop their own cultures.
“Sid (Sidharth Rao) believed that a truly integrated firm can solve better problems for the clients. We have flipped the network structure and come with the concept called ‘Founder’s Circle’ where we wish to back great talent and senior leadership that have been in the industry who can scale as individual entrepreneurs. We approached it as an entrepreneur-led network,” he says.
For instance, in July, Priyanka Agrawal, co-founder of Fractal Ink, joined Punt Partners to establish a consulting practice focused on innovation, design, and technology for exceptional customer interventions. The company is also focusing on creative effectiveness, with Sumera Dewan leading the new Punt Creatives division.
The company also brought Abhinav Sinha and Rohan Naterwalla as founding members to head its creative offerings. Sinha's last full-time roles were with Bedot and Newlit Technologies, where he was co-founder. Naterwalla was creative director at Dentsu Webchutney.
Recently, it has also hired Kunal Sawant as head of sales for martech. He joins Punt Partners from SAS Institute Inc, a data management and customer analytics firm based in the US.
Apart from senior leadership, Punt is also busy hiring engineers, talent from OTT space with data science and machine learning capabilities.
Focus on project work, global markets
Punt Partners' strategy revolves around measurable outcomes for clients. It prefers taking project work over retainer model as it allows them to build reputation and work for multiple brands.
The firm is concentrating on areas such as BFSI, fashion, and direct-to-consumer brands. Sudhan believes that their unique approach will set them apart in an increasingly competitive landscape especially in case of digital-first and D2C brands that are struggling to make sense of the voracious amount of consumer data.
“Managing the extensive data flow is a significant hurdle. Customers arrive from various sources – influencer videos, Google ads, calls to the call centre, and in-store visits. The task at hand for brands is connecting these dots seamlessly. Brands must strategise their data analytics structure meticulously to avoid mishandling the influx of information. A data-centric approach aligns with our expertise, ensuring effective execution. We do exactly that,” he says.
Punt competes with the digital advertising firms, including players like Accenture Song, who operate within the martech sector of the advertising and marketing industry. It is also actively engaged in early projects with clients in the US and Australia, with a particular focus on the martech domain.
“As part of our forward momentum, we are strategically developing a robust go-to-market strategy to expand our presence and offerings in international markets. This concerted effort underscores our commitment to delivering effective solutions and fostering growth on a global scale,” Sudhan concludes.
Martech growth in India
The martech space in India has experienced significant advancements. According to NASSCOM, Indian organisations' share in the global martech industry is estimated to reach $45-55 billion by 2025. Revenues from the customer experience segment itself will be around $13-1 5 billion, analytics will present a $12-14 billion opportunity, while creative design and mobile will be $8-10 billion and $7-9 billion respectively.
“To address this opportunity, Indian firms are likely to adopt aggressive go-to-market strategies by increasingly acquiring companies, creating partnerships, repositioning their brand and forging relationships with the marketing community. They will collaborate with global niche firms and agencies to expand their capabilities into front end, social marketing and experience design solutions,” notes Achyuta Ghosh, head, Nasscom Insights.