UnNoticed Entrepreneur - public relations for business

Should entrepreneurs build a personal or company brand, or both? With Prateek Joshi CEO of Plutoshift.

June 16, 2022 Jim James
UnNoticed Entrepreneur - public relations for business
Should entrepreneurs build a personal or company brand, or both? With Prateek Joshi CEO of Plutoshift.
Show Notes Transcript

Building a brand and being noticed is something that can be really challenging for a lot of entrepreneurs. But according to Prateek Joshi, Founder, and CEO of Plutoshift, having two brands, and two websites simultaneously can help you get your brand more noticed.

In this episode, Prateek shares how his two brands - one for Plutoshift and one for himself, help him get more noticed and what's becoming the purpose of each for his business, and ways it can help entrepreneurs like you get more noticed too. He also shares why having a face to your brand is important for your reputation and visibility, and how his employees and investors feel about him having two brands.

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Hello, and welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. Today, I'm delighted to have Prateek Joshi joining me all the way from Palo Alto, in California. Prateek, thanks for joining me today. Thanks, Jim, for having me. It's a wonderful podcast, and I'm excited to be here. Ah, thank you. Well, you're a podcast host yourself, so I take that, you know, as a great compliment. And one of the things you and I are going to talk about is how you've managed to build two brands simultaneously, your corporate brand for Plutoshift and your personal brand, Prateek Joshi. So, share with us a little bit about your story, but then help us to understand how have you managed to build two brands at once and why? I have been a machine learning engineer throughout my career, right? So I went to school, studied machine learning, and right out of college I joined Nvidia and the machine learning team. So, machine learning has pretty much been a part of me and I consider myself, a builder, meaning anything I do has to result in a product that can be used in the real world by somebody, right? So, less research-oriented, more oriented towards building products. And that's pretty much all I've done in my career across a couple of companies and now Plutoshift. And, along this journey, I realized that, machine learning is very ubiquitous, is becoming more ubiquitous in the cyber space or the virtual world, like search engines and e-commerce, but when it comes to the physical world, there's a pretty big gap. So that was the key motivation behind, launching Plutoshift and building a machine learning product for the physical world. So along the process, I ended up writing, 13 books on the topic, mostly technical books, oriented towards developers who want to build, right? Who want to build a variety of applications? And then, through that, kind of, I got very, comfortable with just building more and more. And, and yeah, so that's my personal journey of how I started and I know where I am today running the company, Plutoshift. we serve Fortune 500 customers and, with regards to the brand, I have always, thought of myself as a machine learning person and it becomes, once you find that one thing, it becomes easier to associate yourself with it. Because if you're not busy doing, say seven things, it's easy to become recognized that, "Oh, Prateek, he's that machine learning guy," right? it becomes easy if you just do one thing and keep doing it. The compounding effect is amazing. You won't see it for the first few years. It just feels like, where is this going? It just seems flat. There's growth. But there's a tipping point beyond which all of that compounds, and it's just magical. And the compounding effect happens. It takes time though, but it does happen. And that's what I have followed, right? Just having seen the power of compounding and having seen, the effectiveness of just choosing one thing and just going after it and that's my personal brand. And for Plutoshift, obviously, because I come from machine learning, the company that the building is also centered on machine learning. So that was an extension of my professional expertise. And also something that I'm very passionate about which is climate. And Plutoshift works at the confluence of the two. The company brand, obviously, it exists for a purpose. We serve customers, right? It has its product. We are bound by agreements, so it has to work in a certain specific way. But yeah, I think, the two brands that exist, they come from the same place which is machine learning and, and climate, which is, a passion of mine. So I hope that paints a picture here. Yeah, so, you throw in casually, you've written 13 books. And I think anyone including myself would say, "Oh, yeah, of course, 13. Is that all, Prateek?" So I'm sure you've got your prolific actually by more people's standards, but Prateek, you throw that in about having two brands. Why would you not just have the Plutoshift brand with yourself, as you know, founder, CEO, on that website and leave it there? Why have your own Prateek Joshi homepage and your own website? Just explain, because you've actually built two brands, haven't you? Built one for the company and one for yourself. And I think that's really what I'm interested in finding out why you've done that. And then we'll talk about how you've done that. Yeah, that's actually a very, good question. And the reason is when you, so obviously, you know, before there was Plutoshift, like there was Prateek Joshi and that brand has been around for longer. And also, even after we launched Plutoshift, I think it's important to have a face on it, to humanize it, right? So Plutoshift, the company is, is it's a company, it's an entity, right? It has a logo, but there's no face to it. So I would say, that when you have a firm and when you have a person, right? I think it's very important that the person, has a brand, right? So it's, it actually starts with the person, because when I look at the products I use or when we look at the people we do business with, for all of them, I know the person, right? The person running the account, running the company. And that was the first. That was one of the main reasons why we chose to engage. And again, look, if you get to the scale of Apple or Google, sure, the products are, they speak for themselves. They're very big, you know, market you can go off, but for a very large majority of the companies and people around the world, that's not the case. You know, most companies are not Apple yet. So I think, having a personal brand is important regard because it humanizes it. And also, when you the person, when you post something, when you write a book, when you write a blog post, when you talk, when you appear on podcasts, I think it puts a human face to it. It's a human element to it. and also, people don't want to see a very PO or like, like a polished marketing message posted on from the company versus the person talking about authentic experience. I think it, it makes a difference. So in my case, I think, I believe that the person and in this case me, I think having, a brand that stands for something, it matters a lot. And the good thing is, it's very, you don't need to duplicate the effort. So it's, for example, Prateek Joshi and Plutoshift, right? Two different entities in this case. But a lot of the content and messaging and what you stand for they actually overlap quite a bit. But it is important that when you work with a customer, they see Plutoshift, the company that, "Okay, it's there, it stands for something that is there's content and we can engage with the product." But there's also Prateek Joshi, who is, the person who knows about machine learning. And we can trust the person to provide a good service, very good products, and, uh, in general, make them successful at what they want to do. So that's the, that's my thinking behind, lead the person, building a brand and Plutoshift the company, building the brand. Okay, so many people might rely on having LinkedIn page, you know, supercharged LinkedIn profile. Why do you think it's necessary to have your own personal website as well as, for example, a fully featured LinkedIn plus maybe a Linktr.ee account with all your other socials? Right. I believe that, different people consume content differently. And if you want to expand your network, if you want to reach more people and include them in your network, I think it's important to have these different, different areas of visibility. So, for example, LinkedIn is one way. Many people log into LinkedIn, they see your post as great. Some people might not be so active on LinkedIn, but when they learn about you, they want to, "No, okay, who is he and what does he do?" Right? So prateekj.com, is a home for that. You go there, you quickly, in like 10 seconds, you'll know, who I am? How to get in touch with me. What I've done? And what do I do well? And also, when you think about the content I create, right? So, you know, I, I write short-form content, long-form content. You know, I talk to audio content, I post on LinkedIn and, what this does is, as you know, different people will consume content in different ways. I think it's important that once you have an idea, like, let's say, there are many nuggets that keep coming. Once you have an idea, you don't have to redo the work or duplicate a lot of the efforts, right? That once you have content with minimal extra work, you can use it for your website, your LinkedIn, or let's say you ,have an idea for a blog post, you can write the blog post. You can post the same on LinkedIn. You can convert that to short-form content. You can talk about it. So I think getting mileage out of what you have across different formats, I think it just, It just helps people connect with you, on platforms of their choice or the mode of communication of their choice. Right. right. I think that's a really great thoughts in there as well, Prateek, and presumably when you've got the personal website, you're able to introduce some personal themes that may or may not be relevant as far as your customer is concerned, because they're not buying your motivation, they're buying your products, aren't they? Do you want to explain a little bit about how you're using the two platforms? Maybe one can lead the conversation and show where you are going with the business emotionally and your goals and how the company then is sharing what solutions it's providing for its customers. So, the way I see it, when it comes to Plutoshift, the company. We serve the business, right? So it's, it's enterprise software. It's B2B. And, a lot of our effort, at least in the earlier parts of the funnel, is we want to reach out to people. We want people to know about us so that, they would like kind of, they want to have an introductory conversation with us. They want to see the product, they want to see how it works. They want to see case studies, successful case studies, they want references. So, how can we initiate a lot of those conversation, right? So that's the first step meaning if you end goal, obviously is to have great customers with great revenue that grows fast, but it all starts with how do we get people interested in having an introductory conversation? And I think that's where the personal brand has been helpful, at least in my case, is a lot of times initially, I just try to be helpful. If you're a big company and you are sitting on lots of data, you want to know, "Okay, I want to do something, but what can I do with it?" Like I don't, my goal is to reduce my electricity bills, right? That's my end goal, but I don't know how to connect this raw temperature data to that end goal. So because of my personal brand or personal knowledge in machine learning or data, I just try to be helpful. Like during the first intro call, let's talk about, "Okay, what do you have? what are your goals? And how can I help? Right? And help is sometimes as simple as helping them visualize or architect solution on a piece of paper, right? Just knowing that, "Okay, data goes from here to there, you process it, you store it. And then the next step is this module. And then, you know, the next step is this." So just kind of helping them understand and, talking about the available options, pros and cons of each option that actually helps a lot because I do this for a living. I know a lot more about say building a machine learning system than somebody whose primary expertise is chemical dosing or primary expertise is running reverse osmosis membrane. So that's how I think, having a personal brand helps attract, kind of these conversations and then if there's a good fit, then we explore further, "Oh, Prateek, you helped me with this knowledge, do you also have a product that addresses this?" Then, yeah, then we introduce Plutoshift and tell them about, "Okay, you know, if you need a product like this, we have it here. And we are working with, you know, large companies, Fortune 500. So, we're happy to provide references." So that's how I try to sequence these events. So that, you know, one, I try to be helpful, like I want to be, you know, I should usually I'm I'm the hub that, if somebody has a machine learning question, I hope that they come to me, right? Just for a consultation. Obviously, all of these just free. there's no charge, but basically I try to be helpful to people who are seeking information about machine learning. In a nice way, your personal brand is almost like, the open part of the funnel, isn't it? And it's not engaging the company's resources as a presales, right? Which otherwise your company would be almost in a presales mode, right? So that's a very clever, separation of yeah. Sort of thought leadership and when it comes to things like speaking events, for example, I notice you've got a podcast as well. Are you doing those as Prateek Joshi, and especially with your interesting climate change, or are you doing those as Plutoshift? How are you tackling that dichotomy? Really? Yeah, I am doing all of that as Prateek Joshi. And unless obviously, it's discussed beforehand. I don't talk about Plutoshift, during a podcast, like it's mostly focused on, as you said, about a specific topic, like using machine learning for climate or building a machine learning career, or how do you build a machine learning startup, or fundraising, or any number of topics where I've spent time on it. I can speak to it. So that's the intent behind the podcast, is to share knowledge, and not necessarily a market Plutoshift. But at the same time, there are many podcasts where, they do want to talk about what is Plutoshift doing? How are you solving the climate problems for your customers? In that case, yes, I do talk about it, but to answer your question, it's, all of these, I'm doing that as Prateek Joshi the person, not Plutoshift the company. Can I ask a question about how your employees, and I'm not sure whether you've got fellow shareholders or not. But how other people in the organization feel about there being this dichotomy between Prateek the brand and Plutoshift the brand? Because some people might feel a bit that you know, "Well, really you belong to us and the company owns everything that Prateek Joshi does." Do you wanna just talk to that because that can be an anxiety amongst shareholders in the CEO becoming the brand? Right. Actually, I've been very open about this with our investors, our teammates, and, potential future investors. And I think, that's part of the reason why our investors chose to work with me in this case. It's because, if you, if only Plutoshift exists and the CEO or the founder has no standing in the community, the question is how will you attract new investors? How will you attract new teammates? Right? How will you attract new customers? Because before they get attracted to the entity, they always look at the person first. It's almost like a visceral reaction. You want to look up who's doing it. Like when I first heard about this podcast, the first thing I did, I looked you up, right? I learned about you and, you know, got me excited. So it's almost as humans. It's almost like a visceral reaction, if I hear about something, I want to know who's doing it. That's like the first thing I do. And most of the people usually do that too. So I think I would say it's to the company's advantage and it has worked well, right? In the last five years of track record. It has worked really well that, Prateek Joshi as a brand can be used to accelerate, at least with the company. The top of the funnel, right? And also, just kind of be if we are, if you're helpful in the community, a lot of that comes back too, because I was helpful to somebody like three years ago, right? Now they said, you know, they said, "Hey, I know this amazing machine learning person looking for a new job. Do you want to talk to them?" And so attract and kind of, it becomes, a very good part of building, your team and your network. And you know, if you are helpful to somebody. You know, in the future, somebody else helps you. And if you are the way I see it is, I try to be a useful member of the machine learning community. And if you keep doing that over time, I think the benefits are enormous, both in terms of building a company attracting talent and also attracting future investors. Prateek, that's a wonderful explanation of the value of having, you know, jewel brands for the founder, CEO, and for the company and the products and services. If people want to find out more about you and about Plutoshift, do you want to tell people where there are two places they can go to find out? Do you want to share those? Of course, you can visit prateekj.com to learn more about me and you can get in touch with me. And if you want to learn about Plutoshift, you can visit plutoshift.com. And you can get in touch with us to know more about what we are building. Prateek Joshi joining me from Palo Alto, in California. Thanks so much for sharing with me, your journey as an entrepreneur. I know you have acres of things you could talk about with machine learning and anyone that's interested, I'm sure, will come and find you. And thanks for sharing your commitment and your vision to helping others and showing the value of this. So thank you so much for coming on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur show today. Jim, thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed the conversation and I think it's a very unique discussion we had today. I'm glad that we got a chance to talk about it. Me too. Thank you very much for listening. Yes. For my slight take on how entrepreneurs can help fellow entrepreneurs to get noticed. I think that's an area that people aren't addressing and that's really how I'm trying to serve, really. The community that, that I'm helping. So thank you so much for taking time. Thank you so much. You've been listening to Prateek Joshi in Palo Alto and me, Jim James, here in the UK on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur show. Thank you so much for listening. Just remember, keep on communicating.