Define Your Sandbox Early, But Stay in Constant Beta


As an entrepreneur, you need to articulate your offering early in your startup’s life cycle, and still stay open to change, especially if you are in the fast-evolving social technologies space.

After nine months of running 2020 Social, I have learned that the key is to define a big enough sandbox early, then stay in constant beta, and play within that sandbox.


In June 2009, 2020 Social started off as an insights firm, focused on tracking conversations on the social web and identifying trends international clients could benefit from.

Within a hundred days, we realized that the social opportunity in India itself was big enough and reinvented ourselves as a consulting firm, focused on advising Indian and international clients on how social technologies are impacting their business strategy.

By October, we were ready to move beyond pure-play advisory services and offer full solutions to our clients. Since then, we have been working hard on building our BUILD and ENGAGE capabilities, apart from strengthening our already mature PLAN capabilities.

Now, 2020 Social builds and nurtures online communities for Indian and international clients, to connect their customers, partners and employees, catalyze innovation and collaboration, and drive loyalty and advocacy.


As of now, we have three “competency areas”:


– PLAN: which involves doing primary and secondary research on the social web, advising clients on how social technologies are impacting their business strategy, and conducting workshops for senior management.
– BUILD: which involves building online community platforms and social applications, and integrating them with existing platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter using social APIs.
– ENGAGE: which involves creating compelling content for the community platforms we build, tracking and participating in conversations on the community platforms and the broader social web, and increasing participation in these communities through social media contests.

Dave leads our PLAN competencies, Kaushal leads our BUILD competencies and Gautam leads our ENGAGE competencies.

In some of our engagements, we focus only on the PLAN piece, while the BUILD and ENGAGE pieces are handled by another full-service digital agency. In such cases, we usually work from the client side to define detailed functional requirements and campaign calenders, select the agency and closely work with them through the BUILD and ENGAGE pieces. We have worked with Experience Commerce and Interakt on such engagements and look forward to working with other full-service digital agencies.


In other engagements, we work across the PLAN, BUILD and ENGAGE pieces and partner with design and development firms to offer the full solution. We have worked with Design For Use and Tekriti Software on such engagements and look forward to working with them again.

Lithium (for external communities) and SocialText (for internal communities) are our preferred white label platforms. Drupal is our preferred platform for building custom community platforms.


As of now, we have three practice areas:


– BUSINESS TO CONSUMER: which involves building communities of interest, around lifestyles and causes.
– BUSINESS TO BUSINESS: which involves building communities of practice, around professions and industries.
– EMPLOYEES and PARTNERS: which involves building collaboration platforms.

Dave leads our business-to-consumer practice, Kaushal leads our business-to-business practice and Gautam leads our employees and partners practice.


So, 2020 Social’s suite of offerings is essentially a matrix of our competency areas and practice areas –



Over a one year horizon, I expect 2020 Social to build offerings beyond pure-play services.

We are working on building some lightweight white label platforms of our own. The first of these platforms will be an ideation-cum-contest platform called 2020 Social Ideas.

We are also working on building some niche communities of our own. The first of these communities will be a private research community for young, urban, Indian trendsetters called Yuvaah.

Stay tuned to hear more about these initiatives soon.


I am sure that our offerings will continue to evolve, but I am sure that we will play within the broad sandbox we started with:

– We believe that social technologies are changing business and society and we want to play an active role in fulfilling the promise of this movement.

– We will differentiate ourselves based on our insights and do work that extends the boundaries of how organizations use social technologies to connect with their constituents.

– We will build deep competencies in some areas and partner with experts in other areas who share our vision to bring together effective solutions for our clients.

Ask us how we can help you or partner with you.

As CEO of 2020 Social, I build and nurture online communities for Indian and international clients, connect their customers, partners and employees, and help them achieve their business objectives. Ask us how we can help you.

Related posts:

  1. Announcement: Gautam Ghosh Has Joined 2020 Social to Build our Enterprise Practice
  2. Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish + Fail Early, Fail Often
  3. Nobody Owns the Social Media Sandbox, Especially Not PR

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