Sanjay has been an early internet entrepreneur with 11 plus years of experience at handsÂ on level, in building and running a successful internet based ventureÂ (www.homeindia.com). Most recently Sanjay has served as the COO of Compare InfoBase Ltd. Previously he has also served as a director in an electrical and industrial electronics manufacturing and marketing business. With more than 20 years of experience in various leadership positions, Sanjay brings to the table a keen understanding of how businesses operate. He combines considerable prowess in the fieldÂ of Social Media, Ecommerce, SEO, SEM and Web 2.0 with expertise in strategy, planning, business development, operations, sales and marketing.
You can connect with Sanjay on LinkedIn,orÂ Twitter. His various blogs include Summer in Scandinavia, Random Musings and Gray Hair Wisdom.
We had a telephonic interview with Sanjay as co-founder of Social Wavelength.
Q1. How you thought about starting this business?
I personally have been on social media, being a blogger, writing articles and active on networks like Ryze. Initially, it was all using them as network tools. But over the years, I could see the change in terms of increasing the participation for companies. I was reading stuff how these could become an integral part of business and I sensed an opportunity, opportunity in terms of using social media in marketing for businesses. I realized that this could not be a core competency for most businesses and they will need help.
I sensed that we could help the companies in building social media strategy and getting participation because my conviction was that every business be it a small, mid-size or large size business, B2B or B2C business, needs a presence on web; if not now maybe in coming 2-3 or 5 years. So, if that is the size of the market, meaning 100% of all the business, the market is huge.
Because I was one of the earlier users that require right skills and experience; so, all kinds of these thoughts led me to start this business.
Q2. Who are your customers?
We have clients across various verticals. Presently, we are working for more than 30 companies. Mostly of them are from India and 2-3 are from foreign countries. We have big companies as well as mid-size companies across various sectors from entertainment to electrical. Star World, Star Movies, Havell, Sukam, and few others who do not permit to talk about.
Q3. What is your business model?
It is very simple. We take on the ownership of social media for a company, monitoring the conversation on social media, creating the buzz about the client with a focus of delivering business goals. Accounts on Twitter, and Facebook etc: all these things are there but we develop a strategy for the client. These projects are awarded to one of the team members and we charge a set amount of money from the client on monthly basis.
Q4. How you beat the competition and what is unique in your brand?
There was competition when we got started and there are some players currently also. But given the size of the market, there are only very few of us. Anytime, whenever there is a business opportunity, there are always going to be players who keep joining in and we should not worry about that.
Coming about our uniqueness: we have entrepreneurs who have huge internet related experience ranging from 12 to 20 years. We know consumers. We have worked on Dot Com world right from the years of 1998.
At the same time, we have people who are closely related to social media. I have been a blogger since 2004. So, overall, we have the close feel of social media.
Social media is a platform where the brand’s name is in the hands of a third party and it can have a huge impact on the value of the brand. Take the example of advertisement. When ads are made, the client is shown everything and then the ad is finalized. In a BPO, if a mistake is made, the damage would be for one customer of the brand. However, on social media, if we make a mistake, it is open in the forum before millions of users. On real time basis, this could be a huge damage. So, the clients need to feel that they are in secure hands and they rely on our experience. Most of the competition, I am not against them though, is from young generation coming out from the college and the brand knows the difference. So, I think this is where we make the difference.
Q5. What is the value of innovation in your business?
Innovation is the key. Social media is very much creative and not simply execution. When we pick up a client, to get the brand on Twitter or Facebook, the approach needs to be innovative.
Q6. How you market your products/services?
Most of the marketing happens on social media itself. One is like we reach out to the clients and other is that they come to us because we blog and are active on social networking sites. We make the clients believe that we know the environment and we can do this-and-this for them. For us, marketing is B2B. So, for B2B approach of marketing, we know that the key is to create a readership. And this is what we do on those platforms. As a consequence, the clients ask us to do it for their businesses. This part is for creating leads. However, for actual closing of deals, we do in-person presentations and showcase what the process would be.
Q7. How you personally grew as an entrepreneur?
Yea, actually while you move on, you keep realizing what is fundamental. As an entrepreneur I have grown into maturity and now I mentor others, which is one of my hobbies. It is actually interesting to analyze an entrepreneurial situation. It has happened because of my personal experiences and also being open to others, reading books, talking to people, attending conferences and sharing the thoughts, especially TiE, it is like continuously looking for the experiences and how to relate them to your own situations and getting your thoughts to a higher and higher level.
Q8. Any hard lesson that you learnt as an entrepreneur?
Well, it happens almost every day. While you are in industry, every day brings a new challenge. So, there could be 1-2 of them if I need to pick up. Like in my previous venture, we started when Dot-Com-Boom happened. However, after the burst of Dot-Com-Boom, we were short of money. We wanted to continue because we thought that the business was right but in order to reduce costs, we had to leave out some key guys. So, a lot of responsibility came on us on individual level. After that, it was matter of survival and I think after 2-3 years, we built on it. This could be amongst many! J
Q9. Any advice for future entrepreneurs from your personal and professional experience.
I mean there are so many things on personal level but from experience point of view, I have come across many entrepreneurs who want to do wonders with great technology. However, they are not focused on the revenue side of business. They are more focused on technology but not on revenue and they get hurt in short span of time.
So, my advice would be to make sure that revenue side of the business is taken care of and not simply implementation of technology. Even if you are not making money, you should know how to make it in 2 years of 3 years. It should be thought about at the beginning and not be expected to happen at its own.
Many techno-entrepreneurs are too much bent about technology and do not pay enough attention towards the revenue side of the business.