MarkitUp founder dropped out of BITS Pilani to become a YouTuber, launch a startup

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Ishan Sharma, Co-Founder of digital marketing agency MarkitUp, takes us through his journey: from a YouTuber and college dropout to an entrepreneur.
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The path to entrepreneurship is sometimes serendipitous. When a young and determined Ishan Sharma in 2020 started a YouTube channel to better himself, he didn’t know it would lead him to become an entrepreneur.

In a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, Founder and Host of 100x Entrepreneur, Ishan shares how he dropped out of his college, BITS Pilani, Goa, at age 20 years and decided to continue his entrepreneurial and content creation journey with his startup MarkitUp.

In December 2019, Ishan was part of a 24-hour Microsoft hackathon where he had to explain and sell his project to the judge. But he shares that he was not able to explain the application of what he had built in the last 24 hours.

He thought about why he was not able to explain and sell his product, and ultimately decided to start a podcast on Spotify to improve his content delivery skills.

“Most people in my college did not know what a podcast was. A lot of them didn't even know how to listen to a podcast in India. I thought everyone knows what YouTube is and how it works. So I just transitioned into YouTube, putting out audio content and podcasts every Sunday. Then I started doing video podcasts after I realised that I could even speak in front of the camera and deliver some quality value to my audience,” Ishan says.

In July 2020, YouTube introduced new policies to help its content creators monetise their videos. Ishan had about 3,000 subscribers at that point.

He recalls the journey to increasing subscribers. “It was a very special day when I got 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers, and received $1. Because I didn’t know that you could actually make a living doing that. I was doing it for fun,” Ishan says.

For the next six months, he worked hard, uploading a video every one or two days - talking about his college, growth, and everything in between.

Today, with more than five lakh subscribers, Ishan shares content on productivity, work-life balance, health, career, and more on his YouTube channel.

Turning to entrepreneurship

By the end of 2020, once Ishan’s YouTube channel was established, he started getting messages from multiple tech companies seeking similar content for their channels.

Ishan says, “I was working as a freelancer and I thought why not work with all of them to launch my own agency. But I didn’t have much experience with business and sales. Till then, all my reach and clients were inbound. I hadn’t been on a sales call with a client or anything.”

He called up his roommate Saransh Anand, who was a social media manager and they decided to build something together.

Thus began the journey of MarkitUp, a digital marketing agency that helps brands with content creation - from video production to graphic design and creating creative memes that engage with the right audience.

Ishan decided to drop out of BITS Pilani to focus on his company and YouTube channel.

“So that’s basically what it was all about. I launched a video on my YouTube channel, saying that I wanted to take this opportunity – to get clients and work with them. It was a two-way thing. My audience was getting value. And people that I was working with were also getting value,” Ishan says.

Today, MarkitUp has about 14 clients and a 25-member remote team.

To know more, listen to the podcast here:

6:22 – When Ishan started his YouTube channel

9:13 – Skills apart from coding and content creation

13:35 – Learnings from YouTube

21:44 –First brand deal and it took to get there

24:56 – What the sales engine looks like for MarkitUp

26:20 – One-year plan in terms of numbers

39:00 – How does Ishan differentiate his income

45:02 – Why $1 million investment is important to Ishan

47:48 – What he does to make his growth engine proactive

50:43 – Ishan’s biggest fear right now

Edited by Teja Lele