We caught up with Samir Saluja, who we’ve covered before when he started DeriveOne about his new venture, Ahrian LLC.
Marketing Darwinism: Tell us about Ahrian, your new firm.
Samir: Thanks Paul. Ahrian is a boutique consulting firm that will take on a limited number of deep customer partnerships this year. We work on audience development, innovation and innovation processes, channel empowerment, and market development. Underpinning these concepts is data, research, and technology. I’m as excited about Ahrian as I have been about anything else professionally.
Marketing Darwinism: Ahrian – great name. Tell us more.
Samir: Well, I must admit, Ahrian is the name of my son. Just as he’s the light of my full life, this company is the light of my work life.
Marketing Darwinism: You were at Microsoft for a long time. How does your experience there inflect your work at Ahrian?
Samir: At Microsoft, I was surrounded by really driven, smart people who thought about speed and scale. When I co-founded DeriveOne, we wanted to combine speed and scale with actionable insights for companies that were seeking outside help to validate hypotheses and understand their customers, and then with our Project Simile joint venture we have been applying recent advances in machine learning to help customers measure metaphor resonance for brand and communication strategies. With Ahrian, I am synthesizing all my past experience- even my experience in International Trade, to bring to bear the entire panoply of services to my customers.
Marketing Darwinism: You openly say that you aren’t seeking any and all customers, just the right ones. In fact you call these customer partnerships. Please walk us through that logic.
Samir: Deep relationships are partnerships and the only way to truly serve customers is my discovering, exploring, and building together. I do not want to add only a thin-layer of value but to be considered a real team member, just with a different email address. Without that depth, you miss context and nuance and without complexity and attending to nuance, you cannot create lasting products and solutions. Ahrian is my ode to that concept.
Marketing Darwinism: Are you focusing on particular verticals?
Samir: Yes and no. We do a lot of work with technology companies and with their ecosystem. We also work with Fintech and other adjacent areas. We do so from the vantage point of data-driven growth combined with wisdom and experience. Ahrian is a prescriptive company but never is it implied that we know better, only that we have an alternative point of view that should be considered. That has resonated very well in these sectors and will hopefully elsewhere as well.
Marketing Darwinism: What are you most excited about?
Samir: Building a true boutique firm. A McKinsey of sorts without the baggage and overhead.
Second, I want to be friends with all my customer partners. It’s not worth doing if you can’t enjoy your time with people. If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that life is short, and all solutions start with investing time in people that inspire and fulfill you personally and professionally.