Albert Einstein said, “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”.
A few years ago, “Digital Meets Physical” was the idea that Srikanth Ramachandran ruminated on. The inspiration came from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner movie whereby in urban environments, technology based canvases mesh the physical world (real) with the digital world (virtual).
The possibilities of consumer engagement if walls could talk were limitless and motivated Srikanth to start an entrepreneurial venture to define and lead this new media space. The answer, realized Srikanth, was in moving walls of interaction beyond the current boundaries of the digital world, bringing it alive in the physical world to create Mega Experiences.
The interactive screens of New York Times Square, London Piccadilly Circus are the hallmark of consumer experiences in public spaces and they acted as an excellent benchmark for what could be achieved.
And so, the seeds for the formation of Moving Walls were sown.
But the vision was extraordinarily large and the challenge was how a small startup could bring such a large vision to a traditional and well-established media industry in Asia. Malaysia was the ideal test bed and the question to be answered now was if mega experiences be conceived and created for Malaysia in the most iconic public space location, Bukit Bintang.
Srikanth was fortunate to find the right partner in EMKAY Group under the stewardship of Tan Sri Datuk (Dr) Haji Mustapha Kamal bin Haji Abu Bakar who backed the vision and more importantly complemented Srikanth’s digital expertise with real world expertise. His son-in-law Azmil Khuzaid Zakaria was an able partner in making this vision a reality.
But, of course, the ‘physical’ also needed to be a reality. Picture this. 16 tonnes of solid state LED, standing tall at 180 feet – 14 storeys high – in the heart of KL’s busiest street – Bukit Bintang – a location with significant national and international reach – offering interactive capabilities reaching pedestrian level traffic. Moving these walls was accomplished. Bukit Bintang Square (B-Square) was born.
Now that the canvas was created, it was time to address the real business question – Would the Malaysian Marketing, Creative and Media community utilize this unique canvas to create mega experiences that connects brands with consumers?
Well, it was time to move minds, inspired by Henry Ford’s quote that “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. The moving minds challenge was conceived to bring together the media fraternity. It set into action a showcase of the creative ways of engaging consumer interaction at B-Square.
Brands, Agencies and most importantly, the public responded to the challenge positively and besides creating millions of joyful experiences, it also resulted in multiple regional awards for the participating brands, agencies and the media owner, Moving Walls.
Today, Moving Walls has grown from a fledgling organization 4 years back to a 50-employee organization with offices in Malaysia, Singapore and India. Moving Walls has to date grossed orders of more than 20M RM in a combination of short and long-term contracts. As Srikanth always says “this is a testimony and a validation of dreams and ideas of like-minded people
moving together in a singular never-say-die spirit”.
And the journey continues.
We will have to rewind to the earlier beginnings to understand the motivation of the technopreneur Srikanth. Science and technology were his favorite subjects in school and he started his professional work journey in 1988 armed with a degree in Electronics engineering. After five years of technical support and programming, he was given the opportunity to experiment with pre-sales and solution management at IBM Singapore in 1993. Srikanth realized that he needed to acquire new skills in non-engineering subjects to be successful and that realization motivated him to join Nanyang Business School MBA program, a highly ranked program by Financial Times and the Economist. Growth led him to IBM Asia Pacific where he had the opportunity to report directly to an IBM board member, Ms Yukako Uchinaga. After a 2-year stint in Japan, Srikanth returned to Singapore to manage IBM Asean Marketing and Solutions business units for Software and E-Business.
In the year 2000, Srikanth was led to this entrepreneurial path by believing and practicing – Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not just by eliminating our weaknesses.
Srikanth’s entrepreneurial spirit has been guided by some of his following key characteristics, philosophies and firm beliefs which have sustained him in years of long roads traversed around the globe and many a sleepless night.
As a strategic thinker, Srikanth has consistently exhibited the ability to analyze unfamiliar situations, understand the patterns and issues and make decisions. He has seen this to be of great value in identifying new trends and defining the value drivers to capitalize on these new trends. A good example of this thinking is iDecisions, an industry framework that was conceived and created together with his partner Venkat Narayanan at Knowledge Dynamics. iDecisions was featured in Gartner’s magic quadrant, the highest achievement for a technology company, as a challenger to well established global solution providers. He uses Mind Mapping as a technique and tool to define and communicate his thinking.
Srikanth’s strong belief is that Thinking and Doing has to be combined with Communication to ensure success in business or personal life. As an IBM evangelist for many years in emerging technology like Open Systems, Object Technology, Mobile Computing and E-Business, he honed his communication and public speaking skills. He has constantly created opportunities in Public Speaking and Lecturing with NUS, Insead, Mobile Marketing Forum, ABF, Frost and Sullivan and chaired many industry conferences across Asia. He has applied these skills in his entrepreneurial ventures to energize his team towards a common vision.
Srikanth has lived and worked in multiple countries including India, Singapore, Malaysia, Sultanate of Oman and Japan and managed businesses across the globe. In IBM, he managed teams across Asia Pacific including Japan and ANZ and reported directly into US headquarters. In Knowledge Dynamics, he was responsible for establishing business operations in Malaysia, India and Thailand. Post acquisition of Knowledge Dynamics, he spent many months in Middle East, Japan and North America and was successful in winning and delivering projects. Besides work experience, he has also attended universities in India and Singapore and taken some courses in McGill’s Japanese campus. One of his MBA projects was on Business Opportunities post- apartheid in South Africa and he spent 3 weeks in South Africa interviewing business leaders. Through these experiences and global travel, he has acquired sensitivity for cultural nuances that are unique to every country.