Puneet Sakhuja

Life of an Entrepreneur with Puneet Sakhuja

An Entrepreneur Life Published on 15 Sep 2020

The Brand Tribe is excited to be joined by Puneet Sakhuja, Founder of digital agency Code&Co and a creative web consultant. 

Company Name/ Industry: Code&Co , Branding/ Technology/ Digital Marketing

1. Hi Puneet, please tell our readers about yourself and what you do? Your journey to become a Digital Brand Architect and Strategic Creative Director?

Puneet: I am the creative director at Code&Co, which is a Digital Marketing Agency here in Dubai. In a nutshell, my role involves meeting clients, providing them with ideas & solutions, handling accounts, managing and guiding design teams, and business development.

My journey initially started back in the year 1999. It started by learning about the fundamentals of coding & design and grasping the concepts. I did make mistakes, but I also made better designs. 

From there on out around the year 2000, I worked at one of Asia’s biggest B2B marketplace as a web designer. I then joined an eLearning company as a Senor Flash Designer. This role was a drastic shift in my career as I was designing in the eLearning industry and creating courses for multinationals like Canon, Dominos & Best Buy.

By 2006 I had slowly transitioned from being a designer to an Art Director role. I worked at an agency based in Dubai Internet City, where I was dealing with clients in the GCC and working throughout the project life cycle. My accounts included DIFX (Dubai International Financial Exchange), Dubai Police, Nissan ME, Dubai Industrial City, etc.

In 2011, I had started my journey in freelancing by creating an online collaboration tool called WebMunky. I managed to gain a trade license and had one of the best moments of my life by working with different experts to deliver premium quality work to top-notch clients, including the Royal family of Sharjah, and a few government clients.

Finally, by 2014 I co-founded Code&Co, which is where we are currently. Things are going strong as we have managed to create a design agency with an immersive collaborative environment. 

2. What prompted you on the path of entrepreneurship? And what were the biggest challenges you faced while creating a brand name?

Puneet:  After working with different professionals, you start to learn a lot. By 2011 I felt I had learned enough I possibly could from my mentors, and I was on that track where I could manage my clients, projects, and deliver even higher quality solutions. I felt confident and ready to take this new journey, and so I did. 

The biggest challenge I faced initially was to make a name and stand out from the crowd. We live in a world where we have many passionate designers and entrepreneurs striving to make a mark, and it can be challenging to stand out. At the same time, there is a lot of noise in the digital world; people are overloaded with information. 

The idea was to develop a no-nonsense approach and help our clients solve business problems with the design, technology, the years of experience, and wisdom my team and I have.

Nevertheless, By being authentic, empathetic, and delivering on promises, we were able to set a name. We still have a long way to go, but I am proud to say we are on track!

Puneet Sakhuja in Interview with The Brand Tribe

3. What made you choose website designing as a career? How did you blend the technical aspects, with creative thinking with business acumen to create your company?

Puneet: As a child, I had always been fascinated with the fact of solving problems for people. It resembled a different type of joy. That feeling eventually carried on to my later days. I learned more about design & technology until I was adamant that web design & development is the right choice for me. 

Back in the early days, you either had professionals who do design and development both or none at all, and I think that played a crucial role. As a designer, I learned the design fundamentals and the technical bit like HTML, CSS, SEO, and more. Once you grasp the basic concepts, it all boils down to experience and how well you can combine the two to benefit it for you.

In my case, I was lucky enough to have mentors and observe from them how to make use of the design and technical aspects. I guess you can say the best of both worlds. Those learnings eventually got passed on to my later years when I founded WebMunky and co-founded Code&co.

4. This is one field which has been evolving every single day. How do you keep yourself abreast with the latest trends and technology?

I believe in this field; it is essential to not only keep yourself informed but to keep reinventing yourself. You need to keep learning, set goals, and practice to become a better person than yesterday. Not only does this present a new opportunity, but it allows you to stay relevant. 

In my case, I have always had a sweet fascination with reading and learning new things. It’s part of my daily routine to go online on the web and read up all the latest news and trends.

5. What marketing activities you undertook to build awareness? And what were the chief learnings from the success and failures of it? Which channel has been most beneficial for your line of business? 

We have always used a mix of digital media as well as word of mouth. Fortunately, we are part of a few Business Networks which allows me to connect with entrepreneurs, fellow designers, and other fascinating people with different business backgrounds! We also have strategic partners, which are our amazing representatives and advocates of our services.

For us, the most successful channel has been digital. Using digital media can potentially allow you to connect with hundreds and thousands of people simultaneously. In our case, we prepared campaigns to target our specific niche. This way, we were able to target the right people.

The beauty of Digital Marketing is that it allows you to control your budget, track each and every penny you spend.

Through this entire process, you should always start with a clear strategy in mind. Is your goal to just build brand awareness or to sell? Become crystal clear on that aspect and then create the digital campaign around that.

6. There has been a splurge of ‘digital, website and social media agencies. How do you keep yourself differentiated and what suggestion you would like to give to clients, while selecting one?

Puneet: I believe in standing out; you must go the extra mile and do things out of your way that others don’t. As an example, at Code&Co, we are always aiming to build relationships. Whether they be clients, partners, or team members, building meaningful relationships is at our core.

Building relationships means keeping in touch with fellow associates even after a project is over. It’s about truly understanding each other, making others feel comfortable and build an overall rapport.

This suggestion shouldn’t come as a surprise, but for a client selecting an agency, I would always suggest they go for an agency that cares about you and your vision. It’s one thing to do work, and it’s another to do good work. Go for an agency that does not keep you in the dark. An agency that is thereby you even when the project life cycle has ended. It will do wonders!

7. Please share some of your most notable work and brand associations that you have fondest memories of.

Puneet:  Dominos University - In 2003 I had the pleasure of working with Domino's Pizza. We needed to create an online eLearning platform for Domino's Pizza employees worldwide. We had a competent team of project managers, content writers, instructional designers, designers, developers, and more throughout the project. When the project was wrapped up, we were sent pizzas from the US!

Nissan ME  - In 2006-07 I had the fortune to work with Nissan Middle East. This was the time Nissan updated its branding and they wanted to launch a fresh new website with the upgraded branding with an easy and functional approach. We had a small team where we worked day and night to complete the project in record-breaking time.

HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi - This project was a fruitful one. I  got the opportunity to work at FUNN Sharjah Media Arts For Youth and Children, an organization established by the Sharjah government (under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah). 

This project involved me in being a mentor and training young students in Photoshop and Web Design. It was a 2-3 months project where all the other mentors were locals, whereas I was the only expat. It was one of the highlights of my career.

Dubai Police - We also managed to work with Dubai Police in 2006-07. During this project, we needed to create an Interactive presentation for the GITEX event. The event itself houses around 5000+ exhibitors. Working with all the top Dubai Police officials was a great experience in itself.

Life of an Entrepreneur with Puneet Sakhuja

8. How has Covid affected your business scenario? How are you re-engineering your marketing game, to mitigate the impact?

Puneet:  COVID has impacted the business in a positive way. As you can see, going digital is the need of the hour, people have realised the value of digitisation and at the same time it saves a lot of overheads, so it’s a win-win situation for them.

My team and I save a lot of time on commuting and we are more productive than ever! 

9. What is your way of destressing and getting away from all the digital stimulation? And staying inspired

Puneet:  Destressing is an important trait we all should consider because you must have the right work-life balance for you and your mental health.

For me, it is all about spending quality time with my family and kids. Merely going on long drives or watching a movie with them helps me destress from all the week’s work. It keeps me motivated! Sometimes, I also like to take a break by working on my personal projects like my website - puneet.ae

My biggest inspiration would be my wife, who supports me to the fullest and encourages me all the way!

10. Lastly, what advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs, especially for those starting in these times?

Puneet:  Firstly, Always understand the problem you are solving. Don’t jump into solutions. Listen and understand the In’s and Outs of the problem. Once you understand the problem, don’t sell your product/service. Sell your solution. Aim to provide value with the solution you are selling.

Have a look at some of his work - thegoldminefilmsdimara and sarjartcafe.  You can contact and know more about him here

Thanks Puneet for sharing your journey and experiences, with The Brand Tribe.

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