Varun Duggirala, the face behind one of India’s prime digital brand agencies, has created a niche for himself in the content creation and podcast space. He speaks about the shift in consumption, the ClubHouse onset, and fatherhood
A content creator, podcaster, entrepreneur, storyteller, and an amazing father, these are some of the many roles Varun Duggirala is playing at the same time. He is one of the leading voices in modern advertising, and you probably have already listened to his popular podcast, Advertising is Dead (If not, where have you been?). In today’s time when everything is ‘content’, money-making is about engagement, and everyone wants to trend, Duggirala’s conversation on advertising, media, content, and entertainment is crucial. He firmly believes that “content will drive the brandscape and help reframe the narrative around brands and how they market themselves.” With more than 130 episodes, 200,000+ listens in 2020, his podcasts are also one of India’s premier audio content, ranking #6 on Apple Podcasts, trending across Spotify, and even winning an award from Jio Saavn in 2020.
Varun Duggirala spent the early years of his career working for MTV and Channel V. Can you imagine there’s an entire generation right now that doesn’t know that these channels were the OG of fresh content? This almost makes Duggirala sound like a veteran. His work with these channels aided his dream to set up an agency of his own. He started The Glitch, a digital-first production agency, only to further branch out into creating content of his own. However, his becoming a content creator himself was by chance. “I had helped grow a business in a space that was fast-evolving. And to dig into this change and spread the learning were my primary drivers in focusing on media and content,” he adds.
Duggirala is the brainchild behind Advertising is Dead, and newsletters like ‘Unschooled’, amongst other creations. According to him, it is his ability to share the varied things he has learned in the past that encourages him to create such content. He adds, “I get some great and humbling messages from my newsletter audience where they point me in directions towards spaces they want to learn about.”
As someone who has set the bar and kept raising it with his agency, Duggirala has been able to witness the shift in the kind of content that people are now consuming. He says that one of the biggest changes he has seen in all these years is how people today have a dynamic way of consuming content “They want content that gives them value or entertainment or, ideally, both. They also want a constant stream of content that they connect to. They have slots for when and where they consume it, so there is time and space for everyone.”
A podcast with a guest list that people would want to hear from makes it even more interesting. Duggirala has had Ranveer Allahbadia, Kaneez Surka, and even got Ma Anand Sheela, Osho’s right hand, to talk on his podcast. How did he get one of the most controversial women on his podcast? Duggirala says, “I happened to chat with the guys at Penguin to discuss potential guests I could bring onto my podcast, and they mentioned her book. She’s a genuinely intriguing individual with so many layers and lessons as well.”
In case you’re wondering why we’ve called him a fatherpreneur in the headline, I should mention, it’s his doing. As the father of a beautiful daughter, he often talks about balancing his work and family time on his podcasts. He says, “I value the time I spend with my family between meetings. It’s these micro-moments of family time along with larger blocks in the morning and night that make me a happy fatherpreneur.”
Apart from podcasts, what’s gotten people glued to their phones these days is Club House. What does Duggirala have to say about how CH has grown? Is it a positive space? “I’m bullish on what products like ClubHouse have brought about as opportunities. I don’t believe it has changed how we consume content. Instead, it has given us another avenue to have an interactive content relationship. Any content medium, when used right, is positive, and that holds true for CH as well.”
Although his podcasts cover all the aspects of work-life balance, does he have anything to say to millennials about the same? After all, the pandemic accelerated burnout, and we all have had days when we just can’t function. The podcaster quips, “I would say that we live in an overconnected world where we are more disconnected than ever. So, the advice I always give is to split your life into three parts — work, life and self.”
Varun Duggirala is now working on fitness and wellness-focused content as well, and has a few new shows in development. He also has a book coming out soon, and we cannot wait to see what he has to offer next.