We are publishing an interview of Mr. Subho & Anthony, cofounders of The Socialist.
About the founders:
Co-Founders – Subho Gupta & Anthony Albuquerque are the cofounders of The Socialist.
A story of friendship, achieving dreams, changing perceptions and making things happen – this is the abridged version. Subho and Anthony always wanted to start their own business, where they can highlight their strong sense of accountability, responsibility and their unique thought process. While Subho with his years of experience in design, marketing and publishing contributes to the Client Acquisitions/Interactions/Servicing, Associations and Hiring; Anthony being a project management guru with strong understanding of current world advancements in digital marketing, oversees operations, team management, financials and client interactions.
Together they hustle and grind to turn their dreams into reality.
Brief background of what founders were doing before starting the venture.
Subho got his engineering done from University of Mumbai and then headed over to England, to study MSc in Computer Animation from University of Kent.
His exposure to production houses such as Double Negative and Framestore CFC in London got him addicted to every little and beautiful aspect of animation, design and user experience.
Anthony completed his engineering from University of Wales and pursued MSc in Nanotechnology from the same University. Even during his graduation and post-graduation he would burst with entrepreneurial ideas, and being an International Representative as well as holding several such key roles in the University, nurtured his team management and conflict resolution skills at a very young age.
Anthony and Subho worked together at a UK based IT publishing house in Mumbai, before starting “The Socialist”. Over a period of almost 2 years (of working together), they came to realize that not only their thought process and working ethics were perfectly aligned, they were both extremely eager to start their own venture.
List all the names of the core team members, along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles.
Following are the names & designations of our core team members:
Poonam – Social Media Marketing Head
Sarah – PR Expert
Shruti – Creative Consultant
Gaurav – Technical Consultant
Prerona – Content Writer
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
In order to answer that we will have to list our services out – we are currently providing a complete 360 degree digital solution to our clients. We identify if they have a branding or PR or Digital marketing requirement, customize and personalize our pitch and ONLY mention the elements that they NEED for their business (after a careful audit takes place).
Till date we have spoken to 56 potential clients and 54 of them told us, either their previous agency duped them or failed to impress them with their services and deliverables, so on and so forth.
So in such a common list of services (which we provide), what are we doing that would set us apart:
- Both the co-founders attend every client acquisition meeting, understanding what the client needs by probing more and more about the objectives of their business (rather than what service they need).
- Based on the Q&A sessions, the co-founders take additional time out to educate the customers and explain why, how, when and what. The co-founders strongly believe in “Knowledge is Power” and hence take the time out to educate during the meeting (even if it is not a closed deal).
- The Socialist takes limited projects per quarter to give complete attention and dedication to their clients
- Before sending a pitch to the potential client, the research team sits and does a thorough audit of the current presence and ONLY then, the pitch is sent to the client.
- Our client’s feel less of a client and more of a family at the end of each service.
What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
To be absolutely transparent (as we have nothing to hide or be embarrassed about), finances were our major challenge when we started out. Getting clients on board, hiring employees to get work done and finally bootstrapping ALL the expenses to start a company and other aspects of it, was not only overwhelming but also would take an immense toll on us. When we mean bootstrapping we MEAN bootstrapping (we do not casually throw the term around as we have not taken a single penny from our family or extended family, and have kept a constant check on the inflow to make sure we get what we need to at the perfect time, and honestly we both deserve a pat on our back for that; although “miles to go before I sleep”).
Please tell us about the Product / Solution.
Our solutions are a bunch of services combined together or delivered individually to our potential clients, after carefully understanding their requirements and educating them about the nitty gritty of how, when, why and what.
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Since we started till now we had an immense learning curve, when it came to us having our assumptions. We got to know about the vast gap that our potential clients had, when it came to their understanding of our services. Hence we had to quickly adapt and concentrate on the uniqueness of educating our clients to make sure they know what they are getting into, and why they need it.
What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ours is a service oriented startup, and the services that we are providing – many are doing the same too. However, what will set up apart, what is our uniqueness is, our desire and constant urge to educate – and not treat our clients as a cash point which ONLY dispenses money. We have big plans in the near future to start under The Socialist brand, some educational works, quite sure you all will be the first to know when it starts
What is the strength of the startup and the scale of operations?
We have currently 10 employees on our payroll (including us), and we have 27 freelance associations
What is the revenue model? Explain your thought process.
Since our services are directed from Startups to MNCs, We work on a fusion of two revenue model first being the monthly retainer and the second being one-time fee/ annual fee. Depending on nature of client and business/service, we always provide our clients with the option to choose between the two. Monthly retainer models are comparatively more affordable than one time or annual payment models for Start-ups and most of the Startups that we have ended up working with, prefer working on a retainer model. While in contrast to this most of the MNC that we have worked with, prefer paying a one time premium (either yearly or project wise).
Who are the consumers that you are targeting?
Anybody who owns a business is out target audience. At the rapid rate we are being dependent on online media to cater to each of our need, we would not be surprised if print media gets completely replaced in the near future. Digital solutions for your business have become a must and visibility leads to increased productivity!
How did you get your first customer?
We got our first customer via Word-of-mouth (reference from a family member).
What is the big picture of your startup?
The big picture for “The Socialist” is to be the brand that everybody naturally thinks of when they want their services based on a carefully well researched and well-crafted customized pitch, rather than doing the same what others do. Also we have big plans of starting our own online learning platform.
Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in details:
The revenue that we generated in the last 10 months (ending 31st March 2017), was made alone in the current month (April 2017). We started proactively reaching out to potential clients for our services (from startups to SME’s) since inception, and it is quite encouraging to see how we are being approached by MNC’s and other valuable institutions proactively as of today (from Music, to Pharmaceutical, to Bollywood and leading financial institutions)!
What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
- To expand our office, and get a bigger space.
- To generate a steady revenue (consistent and controlled acquisition focusing on our monthly service).
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Our main reason to do this interview was to reach out to fellow entrepreneurs and paint the CORRECT picture, and prepare them for what’s in store rather than the glorified misleading picture that has been painted by various media. BOOTSTRAP your startup (take pride in dipping into your savings and then take pride in earing each penny), be patient (there is no rush, this is NOT A RACE), REMOVE NEGATIVE INFLUENCES from your lives (having a sturdy support system is IMPORTANT, however there are many around you who will only ask about “How much money did you make?”). DO NOT get distracted by what people ask and indirectly hint at, follow the path of being patient, put profits back in business, take your time, learn from failures and NOONE can stop your success. BANK BALANCE should not be the measure of success, client/consumer satisfaction with positive perception about the brand, should be a measure of success.