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Friday, April 19, 2024

Himanshu Lohia: The SIM card seller who built Rs 6.5 cr ad agency with just Rs.10 lac, 5 workers

100 Himanshu Lohia, who founded Ardent Adworld, a private limited BTL advertising company in Manesar, Gurugram, once sold  SIM cards on the streets.  He started the company with just Rs.10 lakh, but it clocked a turnover of  Rs 6.5 crore last year.

If you’ve lived in Delhi since the early 2000s, you may have seen Himanshu Lohia, then in his late teens, riding his Bajaj Pulsar 150 with a load of books. Himanshu left Ambedkar Institute of Technology in 2004 after two years of studying Diploma in Digital Engineering and Micro Process System.

He sold Vodafone SIM cards outside mobile phone shops, malls, and other locations for three months. He marketed Oxford dictionary and Derek O’Brien’s quiz books at a marketing company.

I sold books at markets, streets, and schools. Himanshu, son of a DESU assistant lineman, used to cycle across Delhi-NCR with 40 kg of books. Himanshu describes how he earned his Bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communication, worked in advertising firms, and started his own company.

In October 2020, he founded Ardent Adworld, a private limited BTL (Below the Line) advertising company in Manesar, Gurugram, with just  Rs.10 lakh, and five workers. After three months, the company had a turnover of Rs 6.5 crore. They’ve crossed Rs 9 crore this year with 40 staff.

Himanshu explains his business: “We deal in Point of Purchase (POP) advertising and create marketing material that retailers, shopkeepers, and malls can use to catch consumers’ attention and lead them to impulse buying.”

Himanshu promotes brands at stores and malls. “It could be strategically placing chocolates or snacks on a wooden tray near the billing counter. Our creative team listens to brands and comes up with a solution. “We make stickers, floor-standing units, and innovative product display floor stacks.”

Himanshu was raised in a Delhi 4BHK government quarters with 10 adults and 10 children. His father was a DESU lineman, and his mother quit teaching to raise her four children, including Himanshu, the third.

Himanshu completed Class 12 in 2003 at Hindi-medium Shaheed Basant Kumar Viswas Government Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Civil Lines. In college, he met Supriya, his future wife.

“Supriya studied stenography. “She lived near my house and we traveled in the same bus,” adds Himanshu. Himanshu’s mother’s cancer required extra care in 2004. The family relocated into Shalimar Bagh after his father received a 2BHK DESU flat.

Himanshu quit school about this period to work. After three months at Vodafone, he sold books for a year and a half for a marketing company before returning to school. He graduated from MBICEM, a GGSIP University-affiliated media training college, in 2009. Himanshu and his staff outside their Manesar office.

Due to my Hindi-medium schooling, I knew I was bad in English. In 2009, Himanshu joined a famous Hindi newspaper as a reporter. “I switched to advertising after three months because Hindi journalism didn’t pay well.”

Himanshu joined his uncle Lakhvinder Singh, the Chief Marketing Head at Bonn Bread, a prominent North Indian bread brand, in his advertising company.

“We did our first campaign for Pearls Group, which had Punjab colleges, and then Ferrero Rocher, a confectionery brand. ATL advertising in newspapers and online. Himanshu states, “In 2010, I joined Fourth Dimension, a South India-based advertising company, at their Delhi office to get exposure in BTL advertising.” In 2020, he founded his own company.

BTL advertising is about being noticed where people are. People were increasingly shopping at malls, thus ads moved from TVs to malls. Himanshu joined a Manesar-based BTL advertising company as Business Development Manager in 2012 for Rs 32,000. Himanshu has worked with leading businesses for over 10 years in BTL advertising.

Himanshu recalls, “I worked there for eight years and my career grew phenomenally.” Hindustan Unilever, P&G, Ferrero Rocher, Marico, Loreal, and Philips were our clients. We offered display and advertising solutions.”

Himanshu claims he earned Rs 100 crore for that company in eight years. However, Covid cut his income in half and declined his request to reinstate it. He resigned his job and founded a company then. He started his new company in October 2020 and gave notice in December. He began working remotely with freelancers in January.

I quit my job with Rs 10 lakh savings. I chose between housework and business. Supriya’s job as Assistant Manager in a coal trading company’s admin department guaranteed us stable income. Himanshu admits he took a chance.

“LinkedIn clients from my previous company hired me. Weikfield Senior Brand Manager Priyank Kapoor was the first to trust us before we filed our GST. We promoted their new pastas at current trade.

Himanshu and Supriya are ecstatic about traveling. “Anita Dewan, VP, Strategic Marketing, Ferrero India, wanted us to handle Kinderjoy, but I wasn’t sure we were ready. She trusted us. Over 30 campaigns for them.

“Only my reputation got us our first few projects. My reputation earned us projects without meetings. After three months, we made Rs 70 lakh.” Two factories in Manesar produce cardboard, wood, metal, and other shop displays and promotional products.

Himanshu and Supriya enjoy traveling. I love weekend adventures and partying. One should work hard Monday through Friday and spend on weekends. Himanshu said his 8-year-old son Jasith Lohia enjoys traveling with them.


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