[Startup Bharat] After making $200 in a night from Facebook ads, this entrepreneur transformed his loss-making business and generated $1M revenue

Uprist Service Portal went from loyalty programmes and event management to providing online marketing, events, and training services to early-stage entrepreneurs and businesses.

'Make $100 an hour with a social media campaign!' Most of us turn a blind eye to ads or articles that promise anything like this, deeming them scams. But 27-year-old Saurabh Bhatnagar realised that what seemed impossible was possible after he made $200 in a single night. And that one incident led him to rethink Dehradun-based Uprist Service Portal, the business he had started in 2012. 

Back then, Uprist provided a multitude of services, from loyalty programmes and event management to manpower solutions. Today, the company has shifted base and its central idea. Headquartered in Goa, Uprist now focuses on online marketing services, events, and training services for early-stage entrepreneurs and businesses. 

But what led to the shift from the loyalty programme model? 

Saurabh and Rahul, co-founders of Uprist

Making the big shift

Uprist was started by Saurabh with his brother, Rahul Bhatnagar, and his friends, Saurabh Nailwal, Dhiren Chaudhary, Yogesh Prakash, Akshay Ahuja, and Amit Nautiyal. All the co-founders were in their 20s, fresh out of college, and were keen to do something of their own. But the first four years were a challenge, with monthly profits averaging at a meagre Rs 500

Today the team comprises Reshu Singhal, Vikas Kumar, Aditi Sharma, Dhiren Chaudhary, Suresh Mahala, Kamini Kalra, Kapil Sharma, Nirit Datta, Bhushan Boudhankar, Saurav Sen, Rohan Pandey, and Vipul Singhal, all in their 20s. 

“We kept working without any direction (lack of mentorship) and were not able to do anything significant. After four years, in 2015, we decided to conduct a mega event in Dehradun. We did not have the kind of money required to organise the event, so we took money from various sources. Eventually we ended up with a loss of Rs 10 lakh,” Saurabh says. 

That, he adds, was the time for a reality check and the big switch

Alongside, Saurabh, who had an interest in online marketing, was learning and understand the different nuances of the business. He would spend his nights learning internet marketing

“On one of those nights, I ran a Facebook ad campaign in which I invested $20 and made $200 back,” he says, adding that he had never made that kind of money before. The $200 (about Rs 12,000) was huge, considering that Uprist was making an average income of Rs 500 a month. 

Saurabh saw this as a way out and began to use his self-taught Facebook marketing skills with a few clients. He started by offering Facebook ad services for a consulting fee. 

“Eventually after trials and testing of over 50 business models, we stuck to product launches and trainings,” Saurabh says. The team shifted to Goa in 2017, as they felt they had more opportunities there. 

Uprist team

How Uprist works

Uprist today works on three models. For the software, the team claims to keep an average price of $500 to $600 for the full suite, starting with $47 to $97 for the basic access.

For the funnel mastery, of online business and sales conversion programme, they charge $297, for timeline domination $497. 

The events and courses are again priced differently. The communication mastery course is Rs 6500, the EBW Goa event is Rs 16,000 and the sales and leadership masterclass is Rs 12,000. 

The startup sells quick and easy-to-use marketing software that help business owners increase online income. Their focus is increasing leads, traffic, or sales of business owners. 

Their latest product AdsCrisp helps users create professional quality video ads in three easy steps. 

“Our recent launch of AdsCrisp software generated revenue of $250,000 in seven days. Software owners from all over the world reach out to us and if we feel the software is a right fit for the market, we partner with them to launch their product,” Saurabh says. They tied up with is Dream Big Tech Ventures Private Limited for the "AdsCrisp" Launch. 

Apart from the software, the startup offers online marketing training and mentorship. It has set up an online marketing university, Saurabh Bhatnagar University, for this. 

The team also provides support in terms of communications and events. Their event, EBW (Enrichment Begins Within) held early this year in Goa, has speakers from different domains talking on topics like Facebook ads, affiliate marketing, SEO, domain names, SaaS businesses, webinar funnels, and product launches. 

This May event, the team claimed to have had over 500 attendees. The team also conducts a sales and leadership masterclass in Delhi in August. 

The team claims to now be making revenue of over a $1 million every year

The way ahead

Social media marketing is all the rage these days, and has become a powerful tool for companies to measure their performance. However, the only way to know what works best for companies is by using analytics to measure the engagement, users, traffic, and sales coming their way. 

According to Allied Market Research, the global social media analytics market is expected to reach $9,383 million by 2022, at a CAGR of 29.2 percent.

There are several startups working on solving this problem. There is Mohali-based Vaizle, which was released on global platform AppSumo. The startup sold product licences worth $150,000 in just 15 days. Others in the space include Social Bakers and Quintly.

The team is looking to launch its software platform in January 2020. They are also focused on their next EBW event, and are expanding their sales and leadership masterclass to several cities. 

“The plan is to take the event to the four major cities of India,” Saurabh says. 

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)