Do you always trail on a nostalgia trip when watching old television advertisements such as ‘Humara Bajaj’? For quite a lot of us, the trip is a skip from one era to another and makes us wonder the 360-degree flip that marketing has undergone. A novel addition to marketing as we know it, the virtual boom isn’t a ball game.
A similar realization puzzled two Vadodara based boys who were in their mid 20s, shuffling between dreams and a high paying monotonous job, who went on to establishing city’s biggest marketing agency, 1.5 years later.
Dhruval Mehta and Parth Shah took 2 days to put their resignations after their first Eureka moment of starting a digital marketing agency, Social Udaan, struck them.
“Blame it on the Gujju blood”, says Dhruval, who began his career working with an advertising agency. “I am thankful, I learnt a lot from my work experience. Once I realized I had ample knowledge in the field, I didn’t see a point working for someone else to achieve their dream. That is when I thought of starting up”.
Dhruval pitched the idea to his friend since years at school, an MBA in Marketing and Finance from a premier B-school. “He took another two days to put his resignation”, says Dhruval who began providing Digital Media Marketing solutions in 2013.
“We used to work from our respective homes for the first 3-4 months. We worked with freelancers, since we didn’t have finances to afford full-time employees. When we saw some money coming in, we bought a small office that could contain 4-5 people, bought laptops and iPads for our employees”, he says.
Resembling most start-up story which choose to bootstrap, Social Udaan began with only an initial investment of INR 5000 which was required to register the company.
Though their market research indicated dire need of a digital media agency in 2013, it took no time for the trend of in-house social media teams to take-over.
“It was quick and we had to innovate to sustain ourselves. Initially, our focus was never on big companies which could afford in-house marketing teams. We had a huge market for middle-level companies. However, our clients suggested us to expand into traditional marketing as well”, says Dhruval.
“We are a 360 degree marketing communications agency now”, says Dhruval, beaming with pride. “Online and offline marketing have to be in sync. Providing just digital solution often created a mismatch of opinions between the two companies. We couldn’t stick to only digital”
Talking of initial phase of starting up, Social Udaan had 5 clients even before they launched. The company now boasts of serving 25 clients including Multi National Companies. “We haven’t lost any of our clients”, they add.
Social Udaan believes in carrying out activities which have tangible ROI and generate maximum returns for client’s marketing budgets. “Considerable amount of analysis goes into refining and optimization of campaigns”, says Dhruval.
Talking of their financial model, Dhruval points, “We charge a one-time fee to the client for traditional advertisement. For digital, it is variable. The latter is sometimes difficult when there is delay in payment from the client’s side”. They recall of the time when they traveled 300 kms to collect a cheque of INR 10,000.
The duo believes in keeping the employees happy is the key to success.
“In a creative industry, you cannot work in an environment that forces you to think in a singular pattern”, says Dhruval. “There hasn’t been a time where we haven’t paid to our employees. We cannot tell our employees that they won’t get their salary because this is a start-up. That is unacceptable to both of us”
The bond both partners exhibit is visible by the accidental glances they share.
“We are best friends. I think it is more important that you be compatible to your partner in business. There have been times when we had no money in our account but we always had faith. In the worst of our times, we are support system to one another”
The agency has recently raised funds from venture capitalist and is targeting more fund raising. “We are expanding into multiple cities, including Ahmedabad and Delhi.Our target is to double our revenue”, says Dhruval Mehta.
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