Sandeep Maheshwari, British Council YCE winner, Part 2: Pull effect leads to success
Sandeep Maheshwari, in this second and concluding part, talks about the pull effect of his venture which operates without a sales team, plans for the future, and about winning the Young Creative Entrepreneur award from British Council. He also gives us an idea about the book he is writing on what we can learn from kids to become successful.Creativity vs selling
We don’t do shoots that don’t interest us. We are not an art gallery. We are fulfilling client needs at the end of it. As simple as that. Once we understand the customer need, we fill in with our creativity. The creative process is secondary. Relevance of the shoot is primary from a customer perspective. We have a huge backend data on customer needs. We just need to read that data. It is also about gutfeel. We can sort of predict what will sell and what will not. We can also foresee to a certain extent how much will it sell. The success ratio now is quite high in our case.
Imagesbazaar.com is a profitable business and we have been growing at 100% year on year on topline as well as bottomline. We are cashflow positive and debt-free. We are looking at 80% to 90% growth next year.
No sales team
It would be surprising for you to know that we don’t have a single sales person in our company. But we are larger than any other player in India. The reason for this is that our content is so good that people come to us rather than going to others. It is a pull factor rather than the push.
Our other venture ShotIndia.com, a subsidiary of Mash Audio Visuals Private Limited, is different from Imagesbazaar, which is high-end photography shot by high-end professionals for advertising. But in ShotIndia, if you are an amateur photographer with a 6 MP camera, you can register and post your pictures. If your pictures are sold, you get 50%. It is not that only professionals can shoot good pictures but amateurs too can click good ones. We have 8,000 amateurs registered in this site and about 120,000 images and growing.
ShotIndia is user-generated content. It is the next big thing. We are targeting 5 million (5,000,000) images on this site in the next five years having started with 120,000 images in a year.
1. Focusing on the SME (Small & Medium Enterprises) Sector
Ours is a completely bootstrapped company and we haven’t gone for external funding. Our revenue targets are 100% more than what we did last year. And we feel it is just a beginning. We are now positioning Imagesbazaar as a brand in stock photography by advertising in Hindustan Times, Times of India, and television channels.All top brands use our images. The vision for Imagesbazaar is in future, if an SME wants a picture for their brochure, catalogue, hoarding, or advertising, they should use Imagesbazzar, download the picture from there and use it. So we are building the site as a brand rather than a niche photography product. Through this, we are entering the B2C market apart from the B2B market and reaching out to the market. We are happy that we are getting a good response.
We have launched a huge advertising campaign to strengthen our brand and so you can see our pictures in all leading newspapers and magazines. We are targeting through this an exponential growth in our business to Rs. 100 crores (ten times of what we are today) in three years.
2. Expanding outside India
We have a strong presence in India, Dubai, Pakistan, and UAE. We have a strong client base in all these markets. We are in the process of partnering other stock agencies in the world to take our images to all across the world. Presently our customers are present in 45 countries, but predominantly in Asia. I can add to this that 90% of our business comes from India.
3. 3D stock photography
We are focused on building our brand and entering new markets by partnering stock agencies from around the world. We are the first ones to launch 3D stock photography in the world. In the section on 3D photography on our website, you will find 3D images. My belief is in five years, all photography will shift to 3D. We have entered the segment as an early bird, so to say.
To put it in a nutshell, whatever images you may need about India, you will get it either on ImagesBazaar.com or ShotIndia.com.
Awards and recognitions—British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur award’s impact on Imagesbazaar.com
Winning the award means a lot of Imagesbazaar. Many agencies in the UK are using our images. When I travel to UK as part of the award, I will be meeting our existing clients and also prospective clients.
We are also looking at outsourcing opportunities and providing outsourcing solutions on photography in the UK. We can produce images at a fraction of a cost compared to what is invested in UK.
The award and travel to UK is a huge learning opportunity. We will be meeting up with stock agencies, photographers, and others in the industry through British Council. This will help us gain an international perspective.
Winning the award
It felt great as there was a stiff competition in my category.
I also won the Star Youth Entrepreneur award this year. It reinforces our belief that if you work hard and do a good job, awards and recognitions follow you. I was also featured on the cover of Business World last year as a promising entrepreneur in India. Through our good work, awards are coming to us. Like our sales, the pull factor plays the part.
Advice to young entrepreneur
Work towards excellence and success will follow. Like Aamir Khan conveyed through the movie Three Idiots.
As book author
I had written a book on marketing when i was 21. It is about the fact that network marketing will change the world in 21st century. It reads from backside and on the front page, it says if you can’t even change the way you read, how can you change the way you think ? But it sold only 100 copies against our inventory of 1000 copies.
I am writing my second book and it will be published by next year. It is more to do with thinking. The book is about what we adults can learn from kids. The inspiration for this book is my two-year-old son who teaches me a lot. Kids have numerous qualities like imagination, creativity, enthusiasm, fearlessness and go getter approach that we can learn from them rather than teaching them all the time. The book is about learning from kids to achieve success.
Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, The Road Ahead, Unlimited Power. Think and Grow Rich changed my life. At one point in time, I was focused on lot of things and that book helped me. I am life’s testimony to what is discussed in that book.
Read Sandeep Maheshwari, Part 1 to know about his venture and his background.