How We Became Bhava

By Elizabeth ZaborowskaMay 6, 2012

Four years ago, there was a whiteboard taking up an entire wall in my living room. I’d been mapping out the information architecture for Pitch Hound, a SaaS app creating a marketplace where promoters (PR people, publicists, etc.) and authors (journalists, bloggers, analysts, etc.) could easily exchange a high volume of on-demand and evergreen pitches, ideas, content, sources and resource requests. There was Profnet and HARO, which everyone in PR knows and loves, but a true social platform connecting sources and writers didn’t exist yet. (Since then, one such platform folded, SourceBottle exists out of Australia and last week Cision came out with Seek or Shout, for which some Bhavans just signed up. We’ll review Seek or Shout on this blog after we have some experience with it. We’ll do the same with SourceBottle afterwards.) I’d met a great technical co-founder, and together we developed what we believed was a revenue model and technology framework that would take off. We were super excited about moving forward. But the Great Recession hit and it became clear that it wasn’t an ideal time to seek funding.

So, I went back to the drawing board – literally.

After taking a few iPhone photos for posterity, I erased the whiteboard clean, except for the first things I’d written the first day the board was mounted:






To get to any other room in the house I had to walk by that big whiteboard wall, and it was the first thing visible upon entering through the front door. Time passed.

One day it hit me. It was obvious. As my dad used to always say, “The darkest place is under the lamp.”

What if it were possible to create a different kind of PR and marketing agency? An un-agency agency? To keep the “traditional” things that do actually work for both workers and clients, throw out all the things that don’t and never look back, while adding in things most people don’t think about enough when designing a workplace and business model?

What if it wasn’t wishful thinking but serious business to build a physically and psychologically non-toxic, environmentally responsible, financially independent and profitable company out of the gate? One that focuses on the constant professional growth of its employees through mentorship and continuing education, and where the team’s happiness is a legitimate barometer of the agency’s success? Would it make a difference in the decisions we made as a business, the kind of clients we’d attract, the caliber of people who would want to join our team?

Not long after that “aha” moment, Bhava Communications was incorporated.

I firmly believe that happy people do better work, and this is a positive outcome for their morale, client satisfaction and the agency’s success and longevity. We’ve seen since Bhava’s inception that our team members care more about the quality and depth of what they do every day and uphold integrity even when it’s the more difficult choice. They help each other more and celebrate each other’s successes. They demonstrate greater dedication to their clients. They are more resilient when challenges arise. After all, working at a PR and integrated marketing agency is analogous to working at an E.R. or air traffic control (if you take out the part about life and death)—we are paid to manage incessant change, preventing it from becoming chaos and transforming it through the particular alchemy of our profession into positive results.

From when we graduate college until we retire – if we choose to retire – most of us spend a vast period of our life working. It’s not a forgone conclusion that our work needs to take away. It can give us meaning, and how we are in the world through our work can also truly make a difference for everyone around us.

Elizabeth Zaborowska is Bhava's founder and CEO. She loves big ideas, small details, furry creatures and things with wheels.