Kabeer Mamnoon, 2016 'Agency Innovator'

By The Internationalist  |  Oct 27, 2016


This is an edited reprint of a feature on Ready State CEO Kabeer Mamnoon by The Internationalist, which recently recognized Mamnoon on its annual Agency Innovators list.

Kabeer Mamnoon’s motto is, “Question everything.”

This philosophy was developed when he worked for a technology incubator at Oracle in the late 1990s. “This blank-slate, constant-experimentation approach got hardwired into me, to some extent—especially during my time at MIT after Oracle,” he says, “and I apply it now to Ready State’s business, as well as our clients’ challenges.”

Kabeer MamnoonReady State, a San Francisco-based marketing agency Mamnoon co-founded as CEO in 2013, already boasts clients such as Airbnb, Google, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

“We wanted to bring to life a new marketing approach that’s rooted in finding the authentic brand stories that resonate with people in creative and engaging ways,” he says. “We work with our clients to help them identify and anticipate their business needs, and provide solutions.”

Mamnoon says “real innovation is the result of exploring all elements of a business problem. We take a journalistic approach to finding a better way to create a difference to a client’s business. It’s not about jumping to the first or most obvious trend. We like to iterate on a thought or idea, at scale, and we believe that innovation comes from curious minds, courageous thinking, and an optimistic outlook. Innovation is a mind-set. It’s about having vision beyond the horizon.”

In approaching its engagement with Airbnb, Ready State looked well beyond the horizon. After evaluating the long-term needs of its potential client, as well as its own strengths, it decided to offer a blend of staffers embedded at Airbnb with resources from the larger agency. This operations model helps Ready State deliver high-quality work at scale and speed.

“The model was something unfamiliar to clients and agencies alike, and took some courage on both sides to build and activate,” Mamnoon recalls. “That courage has paid off handsomely in the kind of bandwidth and throughput of creative excellence we have delivered in partnership with our client.”

Mamnoon is always looking for opportunities to explore emerging platforms, operating models, and technologies. He wants to “make sure that each member of our team at Ready State is encouraged to do the same—to invest in their passions and curiosities, to tinker with breakthrough technologies.”

When you prioritize this as a leader, he says, “innovations take off in employees’ approach to work and excitement in their roles. We’ve seen our team develop some incredibly forward-thinking marketing strategies for our clients, which I believe are a direct result of this leadership style.”

Mamnoon, born in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates—near Dubai—has worked in the United States, as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Dubai, and Canada. “To some degree,” he jokes, “I have always been something of a nomad—‘trying on’ diverse cultures and contexts, and taking in the good from each of them.”

At Ready State, he has built a home where he can apply his best experiences to creating exceptional thought leadership and innovative marketing solutions.

Topics: client-agency relationships, small agencies, Ready State, innovation, Kabeer Mamnoon