Welcome to today’s Lean Tale Interview series where we interviewed Akshay Borate, founder and CEO of Akaybeemedia and Akaybee Academy. Along with being an entrepreneur, he is a podcaster, a storyteller, and a published author.
Akshay shares his experience and how he started a successful digital marketing agency at the age of 22 in the following interview.
How to Start Digital Marketing Agency in India
Ajeet- Who are you? What kind of business did you start?
Akshay Borate– Hey all, Akshay Borate this side. I am a marketer by profession. I run a couple of businesses. A digital marketing company called Akaybee Media Studios and an online education startup called Akaybee Academy.
Besides this, I am a published author and wrote a book, Go Social – A Beginner’s Guide For Social Media Success. Apart from this, once I co-hosted India’s first Marathi language Digital Marketing Podcast, The Marathi Podcast.
Last, but not least, I also run a Facebook community for Marketers, “Marketingwaale” which has 1700+ members organically.
Ajeet- How starting a digital marketing agency idea came to your mind?
Akshay Borate- Since childhood I wanted to be a businessman. As I grew older, after trial and error, I came into the digital marketing industry.
So, I decided to start a digital marketing company. But it wasn’t that easy. I had to do a job and freelancing before I started a full-fledged company. I could lie here that I wanted to bring revolution and all, that’s why I started a digital agency, but I won’t.
I just believed that I could provide good value and service to clients, and I deserved to start a company, so I did. If I was into the hotel industry working as a waiter, I would have dreamed of starting my own hotel; so yeah, I always wanted to be a businessman. I just chose what I am good at!
Ajeet- What is the biggest problem you faced till now in your business journey and how did you overcome it from there?
Akshay Borate- The biggest problem I rate is decision making. There are always multiple options available and you have to choose the best amongst them.
For example, when you are hiring your first employee, you have to be very careful. When you are choosing clients, you have to pick the suitable one.
When you have to invest money on your business, you have to allocate that money towards the right channels. So basically, it’s always about decision making. One wrong choice and you get a setback!
I learned to overcome it by experience.
Ajeet- What’s your business model?
Akshay Borate- Simple. We help businesses to grow profitably. Especially online education businesses. They pay us X amount, we give them Y amount profit over that.
Basically we are a performance marketing agency. We are so confident that now we are able to give them guarantees. i.e. if we don’t show you profit in two months, 100% money back, just tell me where to sign?
Ajeet- How did you hire people for a digital marketing agency?
Akshay Borate- When I started there was no one. I used to bring projects and hire freelancers for execution. Gradually, business grew and I started hiring full time employees.
My personal network and Facebook groups helped me. Today we are a team of 7 people. While hiring, I prefer passionate people. Skills can be learned; digital marketing is not rocket science. But if a person is not passionate enough, he can’t grow.
Ajeet- What advice do you want to give to budding entrepreneurs who want to start the same business as yours?
Akshay Borate- Before you start your business do some courses and internships to get a proper understanding of the process. Do a job for at least one year to learn how to on-board clients and deliver the results you promised.
Always take calculated risks, try not to leave your job before launching parallel businesses, and do as many experiments as you can. The key to success is execution.
Ajeet- What kind of tools do you use for managing your business?
Akshay Borate- Google sheets, Docs, Discord and WhatsApp. These are enough so far!
Ajeet: Are there any 3 books you’d like to recommend for startups and marketing?
Akshay Borate: This is Marketing by Seth Godin, Traction by Gabriel Weinberg, Youtility by Jay Baer.
Ajeet- What is the most effective way to learn digital marketing
Akshay Borate- Either you can self-learn by watching YouTube videos, reading blogs and implementing your learning or you can enroll for the paid courses.
I personally had done a couple of offline courses which genuinely helped me learn. By the way, at Akaybee Academy we are offering a 45 Day Live Digital Marketing Training Program. If you didn’t like the course, there is 100% money back guarantee too. But it will never happen!
Ajeet- 3 key learnings that you learned after running your business.
Akshay Borate- 1) Business is a roller-coaster ride. No matter how much you prepare, some situations will arise which you never had expected. So just have self-belief and face it off.
2) Build a good team. You alone can’t do everything. Pick passionate people and give them freedom. This way, your business will scale faster.
3) Be really good at what you do. Keep improving. Provide super value and good service to your customers.
Thank you again, Akshay, for joining us on the show and sharing so many golden nuggets with us. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this interview series.