A graduate of IIT Delhi, with MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and MS from Case Western Reserve University, Vinish Kathuria had an enviable corporate career in the US when he decided to return to India driven by a passion to startup. That was in 2007, early days when entrepreneurship didn’t yet have the glamour it has today. His space – digital marketing – was nascent. Today, at the helm of his third startup since return, Digital Quotient, a social and mobile marketing company, Vinish is thrilled to hear the 'mobile first' mantra on everyone’s lips.
Digital Quotient at work
With a tagline 'Go Mobile, Get Social’, Digital Quotient combines the power of mobile, social media, videos and analytics technology to connect with digital audiences and convert them into consumers. Their team of over 70 people at key locations in India, assist about 50 Indian and global companies in their digital marketing endeavors. For example, they implemented IVR solutions in vernacular Indian languages for Monsanto, PVR Cinemas' interactive mobile application, Cleartrip's Facebook management and so on.
"I believe what differentiates us in the current digital marketing ecosystem are two things:
1: We offer integrated services and cover the entire matrix required for a successful digital campaign. While there are various specialized firms offering digital backend or frontend solutions, a firm that offers integration – right from interface to campaign as well as integrate this campaign between different digital platforms and tools -- is a need of the hour.
2: We have a strong mobile first attitude. We understand the mobile revolution’s opportunities and our strategies are compatible with this trend, meeting the mobile user’s behavior and need."
Digital Quotient's efforts were recognized by a couple of Mobby’s Awards for ‘leveraging the power of mobile to reach media dark areas’ and for ‘best media cross integrated campaign’."
The space and its challenges
India has 900 million mobile phone users; it is the third largest smart phone market after China and the US. The country has over 100 million social networkers. And an average Indian internet user watches about 48 Hrs/Month of Youtube. That is the size of the market Digital Quotient operates in.
The smartphone revolution and the burgeoning mobile ecosystem here have been an important impetus for Digital Quotient. New avenues for growth are opening up, Vinish feels. "Big data and analytics have the power to reach target audiences and customers by harnessing the right information and implementing customized strategies. By leveraging the power of big data and analytics, marketers would be able to increase the targeting of their campaigns both for mobile and social," he says.
Hire those hungrier than you
The phenomenal stories of Apple -- a combination of technology and creativity -- and Starbucks -- how a brand can get people to pay $3 for a cup of coffee -- had spurred Vinish to startup. Before Digital Quotient, Vinish was the CEO of SolidGyan.com, an online education startup, President of Mobisoc Technology, a technology venture for mobile internet, and advisor on development and usage of innovative mobile and digital solutions to several companies. He is also an angel investor and a guest lecturer at ISB Hyderabad, MDI Gurgaon and a few institutions in the US.
From his rich entrepreneurial experience, a key learning Vinish wants to share is on getting the right team. "Always hire people who are smarter and hungrier than you," he says.
"I have been involved in developing new products, setting up newer business lines and turning around businesses in both old economy (manufacturing) and newer economy (technology) spaces. The challenge of trying to conquer an unknown is a journey worth enjoying," he says.
The best advice he has received so far is from John Connors, Group CFO, Microsoft. “Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. After a while you have to stop working on your weaknesses, live with them, but do ensure your strengths overcome your weaknesses," he said. This advice has helped Vinish through a lot of tough situations.
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