“The idea was to be very provocative”

We wanted to find people who would ‘provoke’ with new thoughts, says Rohini Abraham of IMRB on the agency’s initiative ‘The Unsettle Hours’

e4m by Sai Prasanna
Published: Nov 26, 2012 6:04 PM  | 3 min read
“The idea was to be very provocative”

“All manner of wants are ultimately a form of sexual desire.” Not the kind of thing you’d expect to hear at an event hosted by a premier research agency such as IMRB International. But the first edition of ‘The Unsettle Hours’ ideated and hosted by the Innovation Labs’ division of the agency proved to be the right mix of provocative and thought-provoking.

Rohini Abraham, Senior Vice President, Probe Qualitative Research (PQR), IMRB talked to exchange4media about the idea behind such an event. “Everywhere these days, clients want guarantees. They want to innovate but their constant question is ‘But how guaranteed can it get?’ Innovation is not about guarantees; it’s about being able to take that risk. So, we decided that we need to have a small forum where we don’t talk business but about something entirely different that will provoke us to think differently and open up our minds. The idea was to be very provocative; to find people who would provoke you with new ideas.”

In line with the provocative stance, the first speaker at the event was Sai Gaddam, a computational neuroscientist, who spoke on ‘Wicked thoughts: Desire and illusion in the digital age’. His talk centered on how search statistics on the internet gave an idea about the general workings of the minds of men and women. While men are more visual, women turn to expressive language in order to visualise things.

The second speaker was Nikhil Velpanur, a serial entrepreneur and a TED fellow who spoke about ‘Success or failure?’ He launched his first venture while still at college, a 48-page magazine titled ‘Strange Brew’ which he had to, eventually, close down. Two years later, he came up with ‘Lets Head To’, a website on the lines of Snapdeal. Then he founded 140 verses, Fight Bone Cancer, and Jan’Lol’Pal. At present, he is creating ‘Approvesit’, an augmented reality app. He spoke about how the driving force behind every venture should be a love for the job and not merely to mint money. He left the audience with ‘Failure is in the micro but not in the macro’ citing the instance of his ‘Fight Bone Cancer’ website which managed to help 300 patients before it shut shop.

Sneha Iype Varma, Executive Producer and Founding Partner, Nirvana Films spoke about the ‘Fear of the unknown’, and being spontaneous and passionate about your job. We are all primed to fear from when we are born. So, we have to engage with fear and overcome it just as a film-maker has to work with a new client, a new brief, and a new team time and again and can’t afford to freeze up, she explained.

“People just tend to see IMRB as a solid market research company whereas inside there is a lot of excitement and a lot of new things happening. This is one way of bringing it out into the open as IMRB is very shy, very old-world, and it doesn’t talk about itself. But, we are probably the first company to even think about bringing in something completely extraneous such as innovation into the fold of research,” concluded Abraham.

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