Thursday , 17 January 2019

Rags to Riches – Success Story of a Noida based OOH Startup

We are publishing an interview of Ms. Deepti Awasthi Sharma, founder, 
Gohoardings.com.

About the founders 
Vikas Sharma and Deepti Awasthi Sharma started this company at the age of 24 and 26. Gohoardings.com was formed & started accidentally by luck. I (Deepti Sharma) was working with EY and pursuing my CA and after 2 years I quit my job to start something my own.

Deepti Awasthi Sharma - Founder - Gohoardings
Deepti Awasthi Sharma – Founder – Gohoardings

Background of what founders were doing before starting the venture.
Deepti sharma was bankrupt due to business loss of Rs 40 lac in her first startup and vikas was working with British telecom and doing a stable job. After they married they formed Gohoardings.com. Couples wants certainty after marriage but they opted for uncertainty and risk. But the risk worth it.

They made a million dollar business from zero in just less than 2 years and currently services 130 cities of India.

My first startup failed miserly (formed and shut down in 3 months). I got married (arrange marriage) in 2015 with Vikas Sharma (Founder of Gohoardings.com and a software engineer by profession) and after few months of marriage Vikas also quit his job (from British Telecom) with the vision to start something on his own. Our destiny have formed Gohoardings.com in April 2016.

List all the names of the core team members, along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles. How do you see them evolving over time?

Founders Vikas Sharma and Deepti Awasthi Sharma

Deepak Kumar: First team member of Gohoardings, designer by profession and now heading creativity department.
Ankita Bajaj: Joined as an intern and now heading consultancy and sales department.

  • Deepti sharma: Sales expert and now sales pro.
  • Vikas Sharma: Technical head and pro.

Each and every team member is now the better version of themselves. They love gohoardings and consider it as a family.

What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem? 
Gohoardings was formed in April 2016 and operational from August 2016, technically it’s been 1.9 operational years since the company formed. We were always fascinated to see big OOH media at Highways, Tolls, Airports, Malls, Metro’s, etc all over the world. We have decided to do something unique and big in this Industry. After doing the research and practically seeing the execution of OOH media work, we have discovered the various loopholes and we got to know that the OOH industry is big and it is a billion dollar industry and it is unstructured just like 20 years back real estate industry but now customers got relief due to 99acres and magicbricks. Now the price manipulations were managed and its control are with customers.

Gohoardings.com Logo

The OOH industry needs this type of proper segmentation and structure. That’s how Gohoardings.com formed. We have done a deep study of OOH segment in metropolitan cities of India and registered approx 800 plus media owners and 1 L Sites on our portal. We have ensured the best prices to be offered to the clients (without any speculations). Clients can book, buy, plan an OOH campaign online via gohoardings.com efficiently and effectively. We have faced struggles due to multiple brokers claiming the ownership of the ooh sites and there was huge speculation in the prices and due to this reason, the customer faces problems. The OOH industry is unstructured, we have solved the problem of media buying, planning, campaign execution and reporting. Every branding is incomplete without OOH campaigns.We have overcome the challenges by deep research and registered media owners on the website with the best selling prices of the hoardings rental.

What challenges did you face when you were starting out? 
we have faced struggles due to multiple brokers claiming the ownership of the ooh sites and there was huge speculation in the prices and due to this reason, the customer faces problems. The OOH industry is unstructured, we have solved the problem of media buying, planning, campaign execution and reporting. Every branding is incomplete without OOH campaigns.We have overcome the challenges by deep research and registered media owners on the website with the best selling prices of the hoardings rental.

How did you get the initial capital? What returns does it have? Tell us about the investors (if any)
It’s a self funded startup. We invested 50000 rs each and now we have achieved revenue of 2 million dollars in less than 2 years and we are in track of achieving 7 million dollar revenue this year.

Please tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
On the ad-buying side, Gohoardings.com aggregates inventory from a variety of different companies. The goal is to give buyers a comprehensive view of their options in a given geography, allow them to use a single interface to buy ads from multiple vendors and even to target their campaigns based on factors like demographics. On the analytics side, Gohoardings.com employs a range of approaches to measure an ad’s effectiveness. That includes creating campaign-specific shortcodes, integrating with Google Analytics and Google AdWords, conducting geotargeted surveys and using image recognition on social media to detect when people are sharing images of the ad.

We are solving Cusotmer and media owner problem by creating an ecosystem.

What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Billboard industry is similar to 10 years back real estate unstructured industry and thanks to magic bricks and housing.com things are in structural positions now. Same is with billboard industry, we are getting it structured with tech. Every day we are learning client requirement and implementing the same to give them ease.

What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
We are the first mover by connecting billboards into technology and we are focusing on fast mover process too. Main agenda is to solve the customer, media owners and agencies problem by creating an ecosystem.

What is the strength of the startup and the scale of operations? Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
We are 20 as team and currently serving 130 cities of India. Our competition is bookmyooh, etc.

What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
We don’t charge commission from customers, we charge nominal fees from media owners.our main objective is to give fair price, deal and comfort to the customers.

Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them? 
Every startup, sme, multinational companies are our client and now everyone can afford billboards.

How did you get your first customer? 
We did cold calling and meetings then got our first sale after 4 months since the company formed and then we never looked back. 

What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Yes, The Outdoor advertising is a billion dollar industry and it is in demand worldwide, any startup who got funding invest a decent proportion of the round in OOH branding for brand recognition and brand promotion. Marketing is the topmost priority of all the multinational companies irrespective of the market conditions. Gohoardings.com will be amongst too 5 outdoor branding companies of the world very soon.

Gohoardings.com Team

Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? 
2 million dollars in 2 years, self funded.

What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
7 million dollars. 

What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs? 
Dont Afraid to take risks and Enjoy the journey because the journey is as beautiful as the destination.

Any other information you would like to share:
I would like to add on a point that it’s a buying process that’s still dominated by email, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, and where ad-buyers rarely get a clear sense of what all their options are or whether their campaigns are actually paying off. Buyers will get comfortable with technology and online assistance, media planning , buying , booking process will be a boon and a big relief for buyers. Customers will get used too with technology.

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