Kindly give us a brief on your personal and professional background?
• I've done my Bachelors in Accounting and Finance and am a CFP (Certified Financial Planner)
• Worked with JPMorgan for a period of 26 months after my graduation in the investment banking domain (2006 - 2008)
• Started Blogertizeworld.com (2008 )
• At present, working on Gozoop.com (2010 - present)
What made you choose entrepreneurship over MBA?
Passion, long term vision and want to be my own boss.
How did the idea of Blogertizeworld come about?
Blogertizeworld is based on a concept of advertising called "Pixel advertising", which was first introduced in UK in 2005-06 but died within months due to lack of a sustainable business model. Million dollar homepage (MDHP) did not have any sustainable business model, but its novelty factor made it work. MDHP was followed by thousands of me-too sites/rip-offs -- all of them came and went without making any noise. I was in my final year of graduation when I came across this concept and that is when I decided that whenever I launch my first venture, it's got to do with pixel advertising.
I started my research in March 2008 and tried to find a way of utilizing pixel advertising at its fullest. After some research, I realized that pixel advertising could assist me in raising funds to run my online business and at the same time give bloggers an opportunity to monetize their blogs without them having to spend time on promoting the same.
Do you feel that a MBA would have helped you in running the organization better?
Well, it's difficult to answer this since I haven't done my MBA but I'm satisfied with how things have shaped up so far.
When you were pitching Blogertize World to investors did the lack of MBA background hamper your chances?
No, but a tag name of IIM, IIT would certainly have helped. At the peak of Blogertizeworld, there were some VCs who were interested in investing in this start-up but my age, experience and lack of any co-founder(s) went against me. I was 23 and this was my first Internet start-up. I did get some angel funding offers for a certain percent stake but that was something that didn't interest me.
How did you overcome the failure of materializing Blogertize World?
It was difficult initially. I knew I could make it big if I had VC backing. I had some excellent /novel marketing ideas but without funding and financial backing, it was difficult to market the website aggressively.
How did Gozoop come into being?
My partners Rohan and Ahmed were already running a web development company called RAASTUDIOS – I worked with both of them at JPMorgan and was their first client (Blogertizeworld.com was developed by RAASTUDIOS)
One fine day Rohan and I met for lunch and he asked me if we should work together on a new brand which primarily catered to online marketing needs of corporate, entrepreneurs and institutions. There was a definite potential in the market. They already had infrastructure and great design and development team and I had experience in online marketing (thanks to Blogertizeworld) We decided to give it 6 months. If it worked, fair enough – if not, we part our ways and move on with our lives. Fortunately things went our way. We launched GOZOOP in March 2010 and by Sep 2011, we had over 45 team members and one international office in Dubai.
What are the future plans for Gozoop? How do you manage various functions of Finance and HR?
At present, we're trying to penetrate in the Middle Eastern Market. Our website division is doing pretty well and catering to clients across continents. Our new product division – ZOZOLO – currently headed by Ahmed develops semantic applications and products. Our Social E-Commerce platform allows retailers to sell their products on Facebook itself without diverting FB users to the website. Some of the leading brands in India and Middle East corporate are already using this platform. Our new product launched a month ago – ZOZOLO Loyalty Rewards is an app which allows brands to recognize their most loyal fans and reward them for their loyalty. We've had some real great response for this product as well.
We're working on another startup which Rohan is heading. More details when we launch in December. As far as Finance / HR / Business Development / Operations and other functions are concerned, we divide the roles amongst the 3 of us to maintain accountability. Having said that, all of us have certain strengths and weaknesses and we try our best to complement each other.
Do you plan to do a MBA in the future?
Advice that you would like to give budding entrepreneurs?
"Take calculated risks. Take BIG risks only if you could bear the losses. Gambling at an early startup stage could be devastating."
For those who stay up all night thinking of a new million dollar idea, here's a tip - Start young. Experiment with a couple of small online/offline ventures while in college because that's when one has few responsibilities and lots of free time. For others who're working and intend to switch to self employment, you must have sufficient knowledge and experience in the area you decide to pursue as well since you have more to lose than a young guy/girl who's still in college. One quality that serves us well in both our personal and professional lives is perseverance. It is quality that one must have to achieve success and happiness. Eddie Arcaro had to ride in 301 races before he finally won a race. So nothing's impossible.
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