Recently I have been working with Rohit on his new mobile application designed to connect Gujaratis across the world – GoGujarati! App download links: Android ; iOS

Decided to interview him for our entrepreneur series,

Why GoGujarati?
I started GoGujarati because there was no application which targeted a specific community as a whole. I am based in Mumbai and have grown up in a Gujarati community – I know this community is spread around the world with many unique cultural aspects. I feel this community is currently divided across distances and not united. They need to be connected so they can work together and grow together. I hope this application will help all Gujaratis across the world to connect. This will get them closer to each other and help improve the community. It is an unique concept – we don’t think there is such an application as yet.

What was your biggest challenge in developing the GoGujarati app?
The biggest challenge was to take GoGujarati from an idea to a clear cut concept with possible business sustainability.
Considering the Indian society is not as advanced as international community… the revenue to build the app and then promote it was another challenge – I am still facing this challenge.

What is your advice for students: Startup straight from college or get some work experience beforehand?

There are two kinds of people. Born entrepreneurs who cannot work for other people. Go out and try whatever you want to but realize the money you will put in will be someone else’s money, at least to begin with. Learn slowly. Get experience working for fun, volunteering in college events and so on. So you understand the challenges you will face in your business.

Others who can work with others should take their time understanding what kind of business they want to do. What is possible and what is not possible. Think about ROI, timelines and other factors before jumping in….

How can a startup create a distinct brand?
The brand should be a mirror of your own personality. Believe in your product completely. Differentiate from other competitors.

Future Plans?
I want to grow GoGujarati much further. I want it to provide a much larger opportunity for all Gujaratis across the world.

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Have been running an ad campaign for a healthcare client for months. Considering its healthcare with medical content ad rates were quite high.

$0.15

A good rate is between $0.03 to $0.08.

Tried few different creatives – funny, informative, interactive – didn’t matter much.

Initially we were posting the ads in a geographical area where the client wanted to enter. Not a lot of people knew them there.

Later decided to place ads in the area where they were better established.

Bazinga… ad rates fell to $0.05 in the area where people already knew about them!

The Offline Factor.

Leverage the brands existing offline popularity in online activities like Facebook Ads!

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Recently a lot of brands are looking to publish some really interesting and fun content through their social channels. Specifically brands into serious stuff like insurance and healthcare want to be cool, fun, light and yet meaningful out there on social media.

At a meeting with such a client, I was showing an ad campaign idea where we used some comics and fun images. For a moment the client was lost because fun, cool updates are understandable but an ad – which is a comic strip?

I just realized how much advertising is changing on social channels. I have been seeing so many fun ads lately especially on Twitter. This ad by CA technologies shown below is one such example. This cartoon it shows is actually really funny! Intel is another mammoth brand which uses some very fun and basic trivia not just as updates but even as their ad campaign on Twitter!

Imagine that a brand spending so much moolah to bring you some fun cartoons! :)

Twitter Ads

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Social Media is one hell of a dynamic field to work in.

New social networks, changes to old ones, innovative case-studies, game changing technology – its so dynamic! New ventures entering the market and the existing brands are evolving so fast! More than anything else, the gazillion little changes announced by Facebook!

When talking to other social marketeers or brand managers, I realised that very often, they aren’t up-to-date on the various changes introduced by Facebook. Let’s not even talk about the users – a lot of them have no idea about their own privacy settings nor many useful features!

At DigiWhirl we started off 2014 with the launch of a brief newsletter service – short bytes about these Facebook changes! We want to keep users as well as social marketeers aware of the important changes on Facebook and plan for it in advance if need be. If this newsletter interests you ,

Sign Up for Facebook Express!

or you can sign up here,

powered by TinyLetter

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On an average I have written two posts a month here in 2013. A brief overview of these posts,

Awesome Content Strategy from your Workplace

One of the most popular content on the blog a series of posts on how brands can generate great content right from their workplace. I plan to do more such post series, but so far I have only made some slideshare presentations on topics like healthcare/crowdsourced content generation / photographers and so on.

Entrepreneur Spotlight

Interviewed a few more rockstar entrepreneurs – Kashyap Dalal of Inkfruit, Annkur of PriceBaba, Rajesh of Percept frozen foods & Gaurav Munjal of Flat.to.

Also wrote a few research based posts on different topics like,

Social Brand Movement v/s Viral Marketing

Is Linkedin the right platform for B2B businesses

Social Media in Politics & Governance

Would love to notch up the number of posts in the coming year, with a lot more series and contextual content.

Happy New Year!

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Pic Credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/264586546831920611/

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Last week I attended the #DigiSights13 event a conference on Digital marketing for Pharma & Healthcare companies. It was very focused and I got some key insights into the industry and how digital can provide value to the space beyond the usual brand awareness creating campaigns.

Kudos to a great list of speakers from Dr Malpani, Salil Kallianpur to Mahesh Murthy, Andrew Spong and many more including the MediaMedic (the organizers) founders – Dinchin & Priti

What I found most interesting were the various stakeholder communities involved. I hadn’t thought of the distinctions between pharma companies and healthcare providers much. Here I am listing out the various community and connections that are waiting to be made!

Pharma companies
These usually sell to doctors and sometimes sell directly to consumers

Doctors/Healthcare providers
These include clinics, hospitals, diagnostic labs and so on who provide healthcare to the end consumer i.e. patient

Pharmacists/Retail Sellers
These are a small chunk who play a role as middle agents who connect with end consumer, hence need to be factored in the social process

Consumers/Patients
Getting smarter and informed from ‘Dr Google’ – a term I heard at the conference – these people are asking questions, expecting answers and looking for more transparency and services from their healthcare providers. Since Satyamev Jayate – Aamir Khan’s revolutionary TV show, the deep seethed dissatisfaction towards doctors has been seeing louder expressions as people realise that a lot of pharma companies and healthcare providers are taking them for a ride.

Its very interesting how digital technology can be applied to all these various groups,
Pharma to doctor – Med reps from pharma companies visit doctors to inform them about pharma products/changes/details/research findings and so on. For many reasons they tend to be old school people, landing up at the doctors doors any time of week in groups taking up all the seating while the patients stand around waiting. The manner in which they present their work is also not too interesting.

Both pharma and doctors were looking forward to an improvement in this space by integrating digital technology,

  1. Informative websites with possibilities of connecting with med reps online (apparently it is being done in Japan)
  2. Med reps being lot more effective with the use of tablets and other digital media tools
  3. Apps/Websites where doctors can research on their own or opt to be updated about certain specific topics
  4. e-learning initiatives to train med-reps and keep them up to date. They can carry a digital repository of knowledge with them so as to be able to answer any of the docs questions

Pharma to Patient
This was touched upon a lot. Apparently as per traditional pharma ways, they sell their medicines to the doctors. Many suggestions had come up in this conference about how and why pharma should increase a dialogue with the patients directly. Mahesh Murthy strongly suggested that pharma stop focusing only on doctors, but to converse directly with the patient as well. Some suggestions he had for pharma companies were:

  1. Publish transparent and comprehensive content about all your medicines on your website
  2. Make comprehensive mini site for a particular disease (including a list of all available medications for it) to gain patient’s interest and attention
  3. Launch campaigns to make patients more curious so they ask their doctors why this medicine has been prescribed and not that other one

Other ideas shared around this same campaign was that medical material from pharma companies needs to be provided with each medicine sale by law. This is not implemented by pharmacists in India even if the pharma company provides the material. If it can be ensured by company, can be a great communication channel from Pharma to Patient
Doctor 2 Doctor
Networks are coming up internationally for doctors to discuss issues, new research, trends and so on. There is a lot of potential in this market – niche, specific networks, groups for doctors to connect with each other.
This can be a good space for pharma to join in the conversation and connect with doctors in a new maybe improved way?

Doctor 2 Patient
Where a lot more digitally proactive solutions are already being put into practice. My thyroid expert had kept encouraging all enquiries via email since 5 years back (anyway he charges 1500/- for every consultation so email is mucho preferred!) :) He recently has come on Linkedin though I found it a bit odd to connect with him there.
I remember reading this article sometime back and was totally amazed with the social savviness and how much value this Dr Ashley from Kerala provides to his patients with the use of social media!

So basically a lot of room for some really great, useful and industry changing digital integrations into the pharma and healthcare industry! A lot more exciting thoughts were shared at the conference. You can get the tweet stream transcript here and read event summary blogs from Lighthouse Insights.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

 

Earlier I had featured Annkur on the Entrepreneur Spotlight series. The last time I went to meet him, I also met another of his entrepreneur friends and mentee – Gaurav Munjal. It was very interesting listening to them talk about their entrepreneurial experiences.

Business: An apartment rental site for college students – Flat.to.

What led you to prefer the idea of starting your own venture as opposed to a job?
Honestly jobs are boring how much ever they pay you, there is no adventure, there is no fun, there is no rush. You report to someone, you suck up to them, you deliver things and you get praised or you get trashed. Being a bit more humble, I always wanted to start something, to do something of my own and that led me to do this. Anyway it’s not my first venture :)

Tell us about your previous entrepreneurial ventures
Unacademy: educational video channel, has more than 100 videos and 400,000 video views. Was started when I was in third year and I wanted to teach my fellow batch-mates about one particular topic and I ended up creating this video. Then started creating more and more videos ;)

(He also has a few more but talks about them only in a more informal setting, so if you meet him don’t forget to ask him about those! #jk ;) )

How have mentors helped you with starting up? How important would you say it is for a newbie considering entrepreneurship to find a mentor.
My mentors from college told me not to start up, they told me to continue working and then go for higher studies and then figure out stuff. But some of the mentors like Annkur who are entrepreneurs have always been helping me throughout the way into figuring out stuff. I am glad to also have Aakrit as my co-Founder and lead investor, he has been a mentor and whenever I am in a dilemma he has always helped me figuring stuff out.

What would you like to say to anyone who is considering taking the plunge into starting up?
It’s not a plunge, if you are thinking it is a plunge then it’s probably not for you. It’s a way of life and you always knew you were going to do this someday or the other. So just jump, don’t think what will happen :) We will see what happens and take it as it comes don’t worry about it. Just keep doing stuff and good stuff will happen to you.

How important is it and how can a startup create a distinct brand?
I think this is the most important thing, how do you stand apart from the crowd? How do you differentiate? That is what this is about, right? You need to create a brand that people remember for something, be it a niche. And then you need to build up on that brand. For example Flat.to when someone hears about it for the second time they know it’s a real estate site for students, they know what we are doing and they know it’s not just another real estate site but it’s a real estate site for students. Once you have the base brand then you build on that.

Plans for Flat.to?
More colleges, more students, more cities, more features in the product. Btw do you know we launched Flatmate finder and shared flats?

Success secrets?
Hire well, micro manage, treat your startup like a company, and do CRAZY stuff, always!

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