How we’re growing our ad tech agency and how we plan to close $3 million

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, my name is Karan Bhardwaj and I am the founder of ExperientialEtc, An Ad Tech Agency. I started this company with my old friend Prashant Pandey in 2017 to create disruption in innovative advertising.

While we started with holograms, drone displays, projection mapping and sensor-based activations, all of which were BTL and Onground in nature, we have now also moved into digital products for augmented reality, virtual reality, virtual conferencing, artificial intelligence, in the web gaming industry. & others.

The last few years have been really good and we’ve been growing. We have recorded a revenue of about one million dollars (US) for the financial year 2022-23 in India. This year (2023-24) we need to close $3 million (US) in revenue.

experimental agency

What is your story and how did the idea come about?

For the past 2 decades, I have always been an entrepreneur. I had a small business in advertising in 2010, where I started a small advertising company called Adometer, which did personal car branding.

So I was getting brands to advertise the cars. I had this background in advertising, so next time we started thinking about what is the next business to focus on; advertising was the first choice.

The only thing we wanted was some technology to integrate with it. The introduction of holograms in the country is something that we thought would be disruptive and we are still working on that.

I believe that if you do something with the right spirit and consistency, it will definitely be successful.

Take us through the process of creating the first version of your product.

We are a 360-degree agency that provides end-to-end solutions right after a campaign is visualized and understood. technology integration that the campaign deserves; and then run the campaign on-site or online.

We offer experiential marketing strategies for a variety of brands that want to give consumers unique experiences related to their brand or product. We provide a one-stop solution to brands by offering augmented reality, virtual reality, holograms, 3D billboards and other technologies to meet specific business requirements for campaign ingenuity as we see them looking to explore new advertising methods.

These technologies can be used for a wide range of purposes, including visual branding, unique interactions, data points, product demonstrations, immersive experiences, and much more.

Of interest are brands looking to capitalize on the latest trends and want to test new audience experiences through a dynamic mix of digital and local marketing strategies.

Obviously we don’t have a product per se, as I said we are a service company and an ad tech agency. But now we’re moving into manufacturing our solution by building a bot called Xbot. This bot will be a unified solution for all the digital innovations we have done so far.

It will act as a state-of-the-art robot assistant in a retail store and will have some impressive features. From the moment the customer enters the store, this bot will provide personalized greetings to the customer as it will connect with the customer’s social media, understand emotions and facial expressions, ensure the right type of purchase, tell the customer: what the customer bought last time; if there are any advertisements or offers that apply to the same; to tell where a certain product is located in the store (which aisle and shelf); and helps to make the right purchase decision.

Xbot needs to be scaled up and the prototype is being built as we speak right now, 5 years into the company’s operations and profits. But this is a product that is going to be a SAAS based product that is ready to generate recurring revenue for the company.

So, as a creative agency, our job is not only to come up with ideas and innovative solutions, but also to ensure that we deliver what we envision by integrating the right technology.

Since this was a purely service-based business, we didn’t have to invest a lot of money to start the company. But there was a lot of time and a lot of late night drilling about where we were going to get our customers from.

Describe the process of starting a business.

We were lucky to have a good network, thanks to my earlier businesses and within just one month we managed to have some business and at the same time be profitable.

The entire site is developed by our in-house team. We haven’t passed it on yet because this is what we do for a living and it wouldn’t make sense if we passed it on. This is the third version of the website that is currently live.

We’ve had 2-3 iterations over the past 5 years and feel the current one resonates more with our brand and accurately describes our business. This was delivered and overseen by our in-house development team, led by our CTO, Sonal Mahendru, who got it right. As for the artwork and design, the in-house design team contributed.

Right at the beginning of 2017, we started with a team of about 5 people: a couple of designers, 2 people on site and 1 person in accounts. But since then, various uprights have evolved. As the needs and demands of the brands have grown, we have accordingly continued to hire more people under various functions.

So the whole launch strategy was about 45 days and we were ready to go at the end of the second month.

The legal structure of the company is a private limited company.

When we deliver our services to a customer, we ensure that we collect customer feedback. We create a video and send it to other customers as well. We also ensure that every campaign we do is carefully filmed and published on social media and also on our Youtube.

The same video is then sent to the client to remind them of how we handled his execution and similar executions we have done for other clients. So one customer becomes a repeat customer for us every time he thinks of doing something innovative. We are at the top of his caller list for ANYTHING EXPERIENCED.

Since launch, what has worked for customer acquisition and retention?

So the one thing that has worked and clearly put us in a different basket compared to the competition is the way we envision it for customers. All of these brands come to us not just to integrate technology that they’ve seen elsewhere, because we’ve done a lot of that, but also how to package a brand communication message with a campaign and use it as technology. enhance what is our USP.

Word of mouth and a bit of LinkedIn is all we do to advertise and market our own company. There’s not much we’re doing yet.

We were (say it fortunately or unfortunately) the first contestant to walk on Shark Tank India. Not only was this our first time on such a platform, it was also the first time for the Sharks to interview a contestant.

Even though we went off the air about 5 months after the show was first filmed (the show was filmed in October 2022 and aired nationwide in February 2022), where our show aired in the second last episode of the season, those 5 months were set anyway. us on a scale, on a canvas where our brand was quite visible.

I think the airing came at the right time as our SEO efforts had started to take off and the brand had already gained the credibility it deserved in the industry. Once we went live, not only did our website traffic increase, but Linkedin connections started to grow and many brands approached us.

Even smaller brands (startups) who want to do something innovative through technology integration have also approached us. We were overwhelmed to get such a response, where even smaller brands were brave enough to experiment with their marketing activities. The Shark Tank experience not only brought credibility to the brand, but over time it brought personal confidence to the founders and also grew the business quite a bit.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The future looks exciting as we are now a team of 60 people. We are ready to work with a team of 100 people over the next year. We’ve been profitable year after year because now we’ve gone more digital, at first it was mostly on-premises and now it’s mostly digital.

So with the advent of Xbot, not only will our top line increase, but our gross margins will increase as well. So ExperientialEtc is going to be the only brand in the country in the next few years that has customers that has a technology edge and also a creative edge.

Have you learned anything particularly useful or beneficial about starting a business?

We’ve been lucky not to make too many bad decisions early on. As we continued to evolve, there was no set pattern for us to follow as to “How to run this business.” As the name ExperientialEtc implies, the business itself is about creating experiences, and every experience we created was kind of new.

While we were learning, there were some bugs, but we were able to take care of those bugs within the delivery schedule and capitalize on the same knowledge we had in the next campaign. We also had a lot of success with that because that’s when the ad tech industry in India was booming and every new brand was looking to do something innovative.

Augmented reality flourished. so we did the maximum number of filters, Virtual reality developed. therefore, we did a lot of VR 360 experiences, even the most recent participant is Metaverse. So when the metaverse came into it, we started doing a lot of campaigns in that as well.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

For accounting we use Zoho, for HR we use Keka. Our design team uses multiple software: Photoshop, Illustrator, Blender, Maya, Cinema 4d, After Effects, Premier, Marvelous Designer, Houdini, Realflow, Zbrush and X particles.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I still haven’t spent much time reading books, and that’s something I regret. But I am always inspired by the entrepreneurs around me and want to ensure that I continue to learn from their entrepreneurial journey. I follow each startup to see what they are up to and how I can learn from what they have learned and the strategies they are implementing.

Tips for other entrepreneurs who want to start or are just starting out.

The only advice I would give to any entrepreneur is that an idea means nothing. It’s all about execution, which means everything and even in execution the key is to KEEP GOING. Consistency, Spirit and Gut That’s my motto. I believe that if you do something with the right spirit and consistency, it will definitely be successful.

Looking to hire for specific positions right now?

We have great demand for our services, but supply has always been a challenge for us. To service this incoming demand, we are looking to expand our delivery team. We are a team of 60 people, of which 45 are in the delivery phase. This year we are looking to add a total of 20-25 people to our design team, Onground Team & Developer Team.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, leave a comment below.

– Karan Bhardwaj, Founder, ExperientialEtc

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