Shuhel Pistawala, Partner Director for Indochina, and New Markets
Shuhel Pistawala beams as he recounts the story of Httpool’s growth in the Indo-China region since he joined the company, six years ago. As he speaks, the sounds of honking car horns drift up through the window, from the busy streets beneath. It’s no wonder. Mumbai is a city of more than 22 million people; a hub considered the ‘Land of Opportunities’ by the people who arrive every day from all corners of India’s 28 states.
Born and brought up in this most multicultural of Indian cities, Shuhel began working while he was still at college, teaching people how to use the internet. “Back then, there were cybercafés, so I used to manage a couple, later joining a retail company for which I taught children how to play video games. where I was teaching children how to play video games”, When the BPO (business process outsourcing) boom arrived in India, he found himself in roles supporting anything from tech to finance, for all offshore companies in India”. Following stints in ad sales for Man’s World (now MW) and Rolling Stone magazines, Shuhel eventually joined Httpool.
Standing Out in a Crowded Market
Httpool India was launched in 201o, but as Shuhel explains, gaining visibility in such a large and heavily populated market was never going to be a straightforward task.
“You’re going to have too many publishers, too many websites, too many networks, and too much to do basically”, he explains. “With 1.3 billion people, as you can imagine, a lot of things are in abundance, like a hundred TV channels, two hundred languages, five thousand websites, a hundred digital companies… so obviously for you to stand out amongst those is really important”. Shuhel stresses the importance of PR, and promotional work, whilst of course always maintaining high client achievement.
2017 marked the start of Httpool’s Indian partnership with Twitter, and in 2019, with Facebook. The company also began to expand into other countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal. Furthermore, Httpool now represents TikTok in Cambodia and Spotify in Cambodia, Laos, and more recently, Mongolia. Shuhel is keen to travel and meet his new team member. “I hear that the temperature in Mongolia is in the minus, and I would love to experience that”, he smiles.
Shuhel points out that the Indo-China region is still “quite nascent when it comes to the digital ecosystem”, which means there are huge opportunities for future growth. He’s hoping Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines will soon be added to the list of Httpool countries.
Shuhel can still remember the surprise he felt when he began being able to travel for work. “In India, if I must get to a meeting with somebody, even after coming on time I still have to wait for hours at the reception to ensure I meet the right person, but going to Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar is slightly different. The other person is waiting for you. So, it was a big culture shock for me”. He laughingly adds, “sometimes I don’t want to go back to working the Indian way anymore”.
When asked what he values most about working at Httpool, Shuhel mentions two things. “I love the transparency that we have amongst the stakeholders and amongst the people. And the access. It is great that it is so easy for me to reach out and access the CEO, CRO, or CMO etc.”. He adds “we are all one ping or WhatsApp away from updates, feedback, or a chat. I’ve never experienced that with other organizations, and it’s very enjoyable”.