The entry barrier to starting a digital agency or an app & web development company is low and this has lead to the birth of companies with different focus and capabilities. So when we started out in 2012, it was imperative for us to figure out what is our USP, leveraging our strengths. We knew we wanted to create a full service digital agency which was not only creative but also delivered strong business results for our clients, in terms of revenue growth and lead generation. Today, our agency is a leading digital agency, with strong results in Ecommerce, Entertainment, Real Estate and Healthcare.
Your Brand & the first crucial steps
The first decision possibly is whether to start on your own or look for Co-Founder/s. While selecting a co-founder, one should be ready to professionally complement each other in terms of working style, team handling style etc. Moreover, one should see if the long term personal and professional goals along with risk taking appetite are in sync with each other. For us it was easier as Suneil (the co-founder and my brother) were involved in another venture and were aware of each other’s working style.
A key element when starting the venture is finalising n the legal structure for the entity, which includes sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Partnership, partnership, or a Private Limited. We finally chose a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) to create the venture as a separate legal entity which ensuring appropriate governance.
Coming up with your brand name (and being able to find that domain), logo & your own website can be a time consuming process. We brainstormed on ideas with the domain registrar’s website open in order to check whether the domain is available. More importantly, the brand name needs to communicate what differentiates you from the other agencies.
Getting the first client
Even before we incorporated the company, we had our first client. Suneil & I had experience in digital marketing and with a small team, the journey of Social Beat had begun. Having worked in different companies prior to starting up, both of us had strong professional networks that we started tapping into to get our first set of clients. Given our value of guaranteed business results from online marketing, we were able to quickly ramp up to a team of 10 members in a year and to 20 members now.
Apart from word of mouth, online marketing proved to be a pivotal tool for us as well and it has helped us scale up our client base. We initial leveraged social media and later on Google PPC, Remarketing and a strong content & SEO strategy. We practice all the tools and strategize that we propose to clients, and we treat ourselves as a client internally so that the content & marketing strategy can help us get more clients.
Scaling up the venture
Growth is the critical oxygen for a startup. The key drivers for the growth in any start-up are the initial team members. For a digital agency, the key roles include a strong design & development team which can create responsive and engaging websites; Social Media & Community Managers who can help build the brand for clients with the support of creative designers; search Engine specialists, Advertising and Analytics Specialists.
Building the team with individuals having the right mindset and skillset is a continuous challenge and needs to be a top priority. At our agency, each team member takes strong ownership. This has resulted in many internal referrals for hiring, which also ensures the right fit for the team. We have also tried other channels for recruitment – HR consultants (some which are specific to start-ups), Linkedin, Word of Mouth and Job Sites etc. Depending on the role, different channels work better.
Given the evolving digital space and the need for strong growth, training becomes a critical role and we are working on putting in practices to ensure cross functional learning.
Being ready for the big challenges
Doing a startup is one big challenge and if you love to take on challenges, there is nothing like starting a venture or joining an early stage venture. We regularly have to address key challenges: Like setting up of processes to scale the organisation, knowledge sharing and training to stay updated on the latest developments in the digital marketing space, surpassing client expectations and delivering strong results. The energy of the team is what drives excellence every day. So, if you’re planning to venture out, choose your team wisely. There is no better day to kickstart than today.