SEO is far ahead in terms of generating better ROI: Kaushal Thakkar, Infidigit

While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.

The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the recent Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.

Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands, and Apps.

Infidigit is Kaushal Thakkar’s second venture as an entrepreneur, which he started in 2017. His first venture was also a digital marketing plus product development agency that he founded in 2001 and exited in 2005. The 12 years in between were his years of corporate journey, where he got an opportunity to contribute to Myntra (Now Walmart group company), Times Group, ICICI Group, and Tata Group. The idea for Infidigit came during a job stint at Myntra, where Thakkar realised the gap in the Organic Search (SEO) domain. None of the Indian agencies were able to provide services that were at par with the western counterparts like the US and the UK. The knowhow in India was a decade behind these markets and they were compelled to eventually outsource the work to an agency in the US. This led to the idea of Infidigit.

Inspired by the idea of Make in India for the world initiative, Infidigit applies global standards of SEO and search ecosystem from Indian shores for the Indian and global market in the most cost-effective manner. Thakkar is inspired by the potential of Indian youth, but is concerned about the limited job opportunities. While there are several other entrepreneurs who have done so much good for these youth by creating job opportunities, he trying to do his bit by creating few more job opportunities. Almost 65% of their recruits joined them as freshers, who get trained on SEO and Digital Marketing while working with them.

In conversation with Adguly, Kaushal Thakkar, Founder & MD, Infidigit, speaks about how his start-up fills up the gap in the Organic Search domain in India, why India needs more start-ups, and how digitisation has opened up various opportunities in the market.

What need gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?

The most prominent gap in the country’s digital ecosystem is with regard to marketing avenues that can provide high returns on marketing investments. ROAS (Return on Advertising Spends) is one of the biggest challenges of most CMO’s and marketing leaders today. One digital channel that I evangelise and recommend to solve the ROAS challenge is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a channel that most brands in the US with digital presence will be heavily investing on, However, I am appalled to see why several Indian brands do not invest on SEO or invest in it for the names key hiring one SEO person with few years of experience working in complete silo from the rest of the marketing team.

The other challenge that I see is that several SEO agencies and teams in India mostly tend to associate SEO merely as a small activity in their overall digital offering or activities. For example, putting in some meta tags in the CMS, which is obviously the most basic stuff done without any deep insight.

In addition to that, at Infidigit, we focus on the growth created via SEO by providing clear Key Performance Indicators (KPI) with targets to the clients even before they decide to onboard us. So far, most large brands have growth 50% to 100% annually and smaller brands have grown 10x to 100x annually. The impact of this growth is reflected directly on the ROIs (Return of Investment) of business across verticals, and this became our core proposition.

For instance, we worked with one of India’s leading footwear and accessories brands to spike their Return on Advertising Spend from 0.5X to 20X within a span of 18 months. Businesses that we have worked with for relatively longer periods have clocked more than 1500x ROAS (yes, 150,000%) during their digital marketing campaigns.

This helps brands in acquiring visits on their website at a cost of a few paises (1/100th of a Rupee). Even when you compare SEO with other channels like Google or Facebook paid campaigns, (which are giving better measurable results to brands as compared to traditional advertising), SEO is far ahead in terms of generating better returns on investment.

How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?

Businesses that want to get high returns on their online investment would all require our service offerings. But since we cannot work for all the brands, we work only with the large brands that are serious about Organic search and SEO.

As I was already heading Digital marketing in my previous corporate stints, I was very well aware of the need and quality services required to get the customers and the pandemic created a need for businesses to seek alternative cost effective medium. So, the market was wide open for us to explore opportunities in various mediums.

What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?

The foremost challenge was to sensitise people about the existing gap. Though brands are now gradually shifting to the digital from the traditional modes of campaigns, it wasn’t the same when we started. We were not years but decades behind global markets. We got a few businesses to begin with, but to actually get more clients on board, we needed SEO and Digital marketing of our own along with word of mouth. I realised that while I preached marketing, I will have to also practice it for Infidigit. 

As we were confident that we would be adding value to our clients business, we were able to generate positive communication around the brand along with the right SEO and marketing to get discovered by more number of businesses.

What were the clearances that you required for your venture from various authorities?

Starting business in India is easy if you get the right people to help you. We just had to get business registration done for private limited, along with PAN, GST, etc.

Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?

The Government has already taken a few steps to ease capital requirements. A tax-free period for these initiatives will be a big help. Additionally, they can create more transparency about benefits in terms of exemptions, grant and selection of the start-up for fund eligibility. This will help and motivate entrepreneurs to explore the possibilities of finding the right solutions for starting up.

Prime Minister Modi announced a Startup India Seed Fund earlier this year. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?

India has no dearth of talent and ideas, but financial crunch is the biggest factor for the aspiring entrepreneurs to give wings to their ideas. The announcement of seed fund is a very promising initiative by the Government to support the whole start-up ecosystem and the Indian economy on the whole, which has always been growth oriented. All stakeholders must aspire to be the torchbearers of campaigns like Make In India and Startup India.

How is digital helping you further your business?

Being a digital company helps us to be ahead of several other companies in the digital implementations. Connecting with the right prospects has become much easier today than ever before. However, your digital strategy is the key that determines your level of success. We have connected with almost all our prospects and clients via digital channels.

In the current pandemic times, like all other organisations, our digital DNAs were also tested when it came to working 100% remotely. Thankfully, like all other organisations, we cleared this test with flying colours and were able to move our complete business online without needing any off-line presence. Today, this test has germinated a hybrid working culture for us, where most of our team members are working on most of the days from home. This model helps us to scale our team faster by recruiting the talent from across India without having a physical office in that city/ town.

What are your key learnings so far? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?

India needs more start-ups. I should have started my business earlier. It would have helped many more brands and people.

We see many people in their 40’s and 50’s exiting the jobs now to start something on their own. These people will be able to handhold many freshers and people with lesser experience and get them to speed. This is good for India in 2021 and the coming years. 

What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?

The only message is that digitisation has opened up various opportunities in the market and if you believe that your idea can make a difference in the market, then don’t sit on it. Give it a try before it’s too late.

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