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Interview with Anuj Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, Startup-O

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Interview with Anuj Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, Startup-O

Pradeep Chopra, Co-Founder at Digital Vidya: Digital Marketing is the centre point of any marketing strategy. Taking the increasing popularity of Digital Marketing into account, almost every business irrespective of the size have a proper digital marketing strategy.

Startups particularly face difficulty when it comes to competing against already established businesses in the market. However, Digital Marketing plays a crucial role in highlighting them in front of their target audience.

In this interview, I spoke to Anuj Jain to know his views and significant approach towards Digital Marketing & its importance towards startups.

Anuj is the Co-Founder & CEO of Startup-O which is South East Asias leading online platform for startup assessments, investments& venture building. He is driven by the vision of providing a ‘fair level playing field’ to all deserving entrepreneurs who can succeed with access to capital &global networks essential for building great companies. At the same time, he serves the investors in this new asset class with a transparent & data-driven approach to participate in these fast-growing companies for financial returns.

His expertise inGo To Marketdomain comes with the know-how on building businesses across 14 Asian markets from Japan to Jakarta’. His career spanned across major consumer product MNCs like Procter&Gamble, Glaxo SmithKline Beecham, WIPRO, BIC. At present, he is engaged with Singapore SEA startup ecosystem since 2013, and as such, gained a deep understanding of pain areas for both the founders and investors.

In the startup land, he led scaling of an F&B SaaS platform in the SEA region successfully, spent hundreds of hours in training 160+ startup founders through a structured startup boot camp and mentored many others before he co-founded Startup-O in early 2016.

He is a firm believer of Pay it Forwardphilosophy, he actively shares his experience with entrepreneurs and investors alike. Originally from India, I am living in Singapore with my family since 2002.

Importance of Digital Marketing in your current profile

I was an early bird catching onto the digital bandwagon around 2007. Team Digital Vidya was one of the first gurus and showed me the path with structured learning back in the days when I was the Marketing Director for an FMCG co. At present, digital presence is the core of our being as we built an online platform which has 1200+ tech ventures on it from across 40+ countries – digitally, as its location agnostic. It blends the art of assessments by global experts & science of algorithms to discover the authentic founders & promising companies that venture funds invest periodically.

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According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing? Do you think that Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of conventional marketing?

Anuj Jain: There are many disadvantages of conventional marketing, especially in the current context of ‘more transparent’ world that makes people sceptical about ‘push’ and ‘agenda’ laced efforts. However, one big advantage of the traditional marketing approach is the ability for ‘personal touch’ that builds trust in the long term. Strengths like direct marketing with tactile touch, one on one interactions, involving five senses in conveying the message have an unparalleled impact. We all have felt that a lot more could be done by picking up the phone vs sending an email. The same logic extends when we deal with humans in any context. I think a hybrid approach using both methods could be super potent. e.g., Lead capture could be done digitally by providing low cost-high perceived value but onboarding, executions could be more tactile to build lasting relationships with customers.

Share about your 3 favourite Integrated Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Anuj Jain: Here are my favourite Case Studies:

(i) Ibicons – When you get the box delivered, one gets a handwritten letter from the CEO and signed by him. High tech product with a high personal touch.

(ii) Apple – Their brick and mortar locations look nearly identical to their website which is an important touch point in the consumer journey. Apple branding flows in perfectly integrating both their physical locations and online presence. It makes sure that their signature customer experience is consistent across.

(iii) Dove Campaign for Real Beauty – Vey contextual, unconventional, integrated (billboards to social voting) and it was power packed to start conversations. Loved the way it asked pertinent questions, creating an association with a relevant issue & kinda started a movement.

According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organisations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Anuj Jain: Here are the top 3 mistakes:

Mistake 1: Thinking Digital in a vacuum and doing it for the ‘cool’ factor or ‘fomo’ – They lose the context & with it, the customers.

Mistake 2: Too much bullshit on content & constant creation vs focusing on metric-driven results & analytics – Lots of wasted dollars.

Mistake 3: Poor understanding of conventional marketing principles – Digital is just a tool but fundamentals of marketing have not changed from aeons. It’s elementary but this message gets lost in the noise around digital.

Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for the maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Anuj Jain: It depends on the stage of your evolution, budgets & objectives, of course. I personally prefer a small in house team of growth hackers with creative agency inputs backed by specialised freelancers. For the lazy, a good agency would suit but for the practitioners, a mixed approach is more productive.

How do you ensure increasing Digital Marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?

Anuj Jain: There are no short cuts but to constantly educate and include the team in various things digital. We have embraced & trained on tools like Hubspot, Canva & Mailchimp. Our in house content team is involved with ‘Interviews with entrepreneurs’ in-series called ‘Startup-O Stars’ which could be a potential podcast in future. The good thing is that our industry is very young, full of young minded folks who are either on the forefront of digital or are very open to embracing it.

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Date: 16th Oct, 2019 (Wed)
Time: 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (IST/GMT +5:30)

Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Anuj Jain:

For Entrepreneurs: This is the best media for a resource-strapped entrepreneur. It is best to dive hands-on and maximise its potential to get bang for your precious buck.

For Professionals: Its a career advantage clearly. The key decision makers are not digital natives and slow to adopt. An open minded professional with digital skills is more worthy of growth and favours by the old guard given all other things being equal.

For Students: you can hide but you can’t run 🙂 Whatever you may choose as your vocation, digital will be its centrepiece. With the world tilting towards ‘free expression’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ it is even more important to be digitally savvy.

What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

Anuj Jain: 

(i) Hard Skills backed by an analytical mind

(ii) Growth Hacking Mindset

(iii) Design-Centric thinking

What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in the Digital Marketing industry?

Anuj Jain: Don’t Delay, Just Play. There are many who remain fence sitters and wait for the perfect conditions. The pace of change is such it is impossible to have the comfort of all the know how. The only way is to be in the playground and experiment enough.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing? Which are the Digital Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) you visit regularly?

Anuj Jain: 

(i) Kiss Metrics specialises in analytics, marketing and testing and its blog posts reflect this specialist knowledge.

(ii) HubSpot maintains very high blogging standards and is full of marketing articles with tips and insights. It is world famous for its content that directly delivers value to its readers.

Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

Anuj Jain: Pradeep Chopra, Neil Patel & Seth Godin.

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Free Digital Marketing Webinar

Date: 16th Oct, 2019 (Wed)
Time: 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (IST/GMT +5:30)

How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2019?

Anuj Jain: 

(i) Hybrid – Brick and mortar stores can take advantage of such a moment by capitalizing on near mesearches, which have grown 2X between 2016 and 2017 according to Google.

(ii) Live streaming content is effective because its free, takes a short time to produce while it offers a real-time user engagement, and viewers use your content based on your time, not theirs.

(iii) Chatbots play a critical role in improving the customer experience and allow marketers to better engage with their audience – without really doing much. They offer real-time assistance to the user, dedicated support and proactive interactions where they ask questions to understand the real problem.

Would you like to share a few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Anuj Jain: I am inspired by the journey of the founders. It gave me a lot of strength seeing their resilience and honest work done in this space of training thousands with digital marketing skills. Today Digital Vidya is not only the leader in its space but managed to remain authentic over all these years. There are many me-toos but there is only one original 🙂

I would highly recommend anyone who wants to be relevant in today’s world to take up a Digital Vidya course. Best wishes to seekers and teachers alike.

Are you inspired by the opportunity of Digital Marketing? Start your journey by attending our upcoming orientation session on Digital Marketing for Career & Business Growth. It’s online and Free :).




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