Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I am Sorav Jain, one of India’s leading Digital Marketer, trainer, and consultant. I run echoVME Digital, an award-winning Digital Marketing agency in Chennai that has served many top clients all over the country like Nippo, Casagrand, Success Gyan, Levista, Chu Chu TV, and a lot more for over a decade.
Over the last decade, my agency has grown to be one of the most well-known names in Chennai and has become a name synonymous with quality. I have worked with clients across many industries including Real Estate, Food & Beverages, Personal Brands,
I am also the founder of Digital Scholar, India’s first agency-styled Digital Marketing training institute that prepares the students to take on the creative challenges of the online world.
I started my agency over 10 years ago and I have moved from a few temporary freelance clients to long-term projects with some of the top brands in the world. Even in terms of team growth, I have moved from a team of 5 to a team of 60 dedicated employees, who are experts in their own domain with a multi-level management system.
And for my institute Digital Scholar, my first batch had about 90 students, and now the number has increased to more than 100,000 students and counting! Our target students included college graduates looking to start their careers, entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses, and sales professionals looking to learn ways to increase their leads.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
It all began after my college when I was really fascinated by Digital Marketing, thanks to Orkut which was an integral part of my life back then. My dad had other plans as he tried to convince me to take up his textile business. I resisted completely as I knew that wasn’t something I wanted to do all my life.
Be ready for contingencies and have a Plan B and even a Plan C. Over the years, I have seen many things that needed last-minute brilliancies for them to work.
It was 2009 when I finished my education at Leeds University and was back home in India. That was the year I got my first job in a popular marketing process outsourcing startup. It was around that time I started my blog, soravjain.com, and started posting Digital Marketing tips, how-to’s, strategies, and a lot more.
I slowly started getting a lot of global attention and to promote it further, I joined communities of like-minded people on Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I positioned myself as a practitioner of social media for business globally. The traction that I started getting gave me the idea to do the same professionally.
In the back of my mind, I always realized many people were really interested in the field but lacked proper guidance. They needed quality training and a clear path as to how to go about using the potential of Digital for the benefit of their business. That zeal for training led me to start Digital Scholar, a dream that I realized 10 years after my first job.
The main reason and driving force was the same 10 years experience of running the agency. In these 10 years, I hired and worked with many Digital Marketers, and in that process, I realized that there is a lack of quality Digital Marketing training. There was a problem and I had a working solution, and to bridge that gap, I started Digital Scholar.
Take us through the process of designing your services
The first few months of both my agency and institute were similar. High enthusiasm, great team, a working plan, but less experience. When I started echoVME digital, we had a team of 5 people and we were working from a small office with just the right amount of leg space for 5 people.
There were a handful of clients, some very cooperative, some had to be tolerated, but we strived to give them only the best services we had to offer. From that scenario, we have now grown to a spacious floor with 60+ specialist employees and a list of some of the best brands in the country in our portfolio.
Always be on the lookout for something new. If you don't, there is always someone to one-up you and replace you at the throne.
The story was similar to Digital Scholar. After a bit of trial and error, we now have an effective working curriculum, a set process that helps students experience agency life while undergoing their training in our institute.
After the initial set-up of the website and logos, my next aim was to get the best trainers for each module. SEO, Social Media Marketing, Facebook and Google Ads, Content Writing, and a few other modules needed expert supervision.
I didn’t have to look far. My agency colleagues heading each department were well qualified and carried the much-needed experience required for the role. The transition was seamless, and with their extensive knowledge about the subject, I found ideal trainers for my institute.
Describe the process of launching the business.
There was no set process of launching my agency echoVME Digital, but there were many speed breakers and ifs and buts. While I was helping my dad with his business, I was also trying to get freelance clients and help them grow digitally.
My biggest break and opportunity came along when a Spanish brand reached out to me for my Digital Marketing services. It gave a much-needed boost, and I was able to leave my dad's business for good. That's when I started echoVME Digital.
Digital Scholar, on the contrary, took a lot of planning and execution. We brainstormed the name and the domain availability for months before fixing one. It took another few months to sort out the space, the trainers, the curriculum, and the approach. We were fully prepared to accept any changes and feedback that would've come after the first batch. But the response was positive and overwhelming.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
When I began my agency 10 years ago, Digital Marketing as a concept was pretty new. So the biggest thing that worked for me was educating people about it. So I started with a lot of corporate shows where I educated the brands and their employees about the benefits of going Digital. They took my advice and consultation, and I got a lot of leads from there.
I also gave a lot of free talks at many events in various cities. I spoke and wrote about case studies and personal branding examples, and many leads stepped forward, asking me to implement the same for them.
A similar but now tried and tested strategy was applied for Digital Scholar as well. A few free sessions, educating the audience about the importance of Digital education and its rising demand really drew in a lot of crowds.
Yet another thing that worked like a charm for both my brands was my strong SEO game. I got in a lot of clients and students through them discovering me and my work on search engines and then reaching out to me.
Our SEO strategy was simple. Benchmark our competitors, focus on a lot of listicles, rank for every major city, and get in all the traffic and inquiries.
One more thing that always pays off is referrals. Happy clients and students referring us to their acquaintances helped us further our reach. In our referral program, students can refer to new students for the course. And once the new student joins and pays the full fee, the referring student is paid Rs. 000.
After getting clients, it is really necessary to retain them, and that is something I take very seriously. My agency is known for constant communication with the clients through Monday mails, Friday reports, weekly meetings, and a lot of follow-ups. We ensure the content and other postings are sent to approval 2 weeks in advance, and any changes are made then and there.
Our client relations are strong, and we make sure we maintain a healthy one at that.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Digital Marketing is very dynamic and versatile. What’s trending today may not work tomorrow. In such a scenario, where the existence of my agency depends on the existence of a few online platforms and trends, it is very hard to plan for a long-term future. My motto is simple, work for the present, and ace at whatever you do!
The only contingency plan is to be ready for whatever the industry throws at you and rise to the occasion. This was tested for Digital Scholar when lockdown came to effect and we had to move all our offline batches online. Both the trainers and students cooperate really well and things went ahead without any hiccups. To ensure safety and avoid any sort of health complications, we are now providing an Online Digital Marketing course.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the biggest things I have learned is, that too, through my initial mistakes, is never to be a client pleaser. In the initial days of my agency, I did whatever the client wanted to retain them, which took a heavy toll on me. With time I realized it's ok to let a few go if you think they do not fit your way of doing business.
Yet another thing I learned in my journey as an entrepreneur is that communication is very important. Be it with your clients, your students, or your employees, have clarity in your words and thoughts, and there won't be any scope for chaos, miscommunication, and confusion.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Over my journey as a Digital Marketer, I have worked with clients across various industries and realized that the Digital Marketing approach towards each industry is so vast and diverse. So, to summarize and give a glimpse, I have written books that have helped many Digital Marketing enthusiasts get the right idea, be it real estate, personal brand, event marketing, and so much more.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Here are a few things to keep in mind for any new entrepreneurs who are about to begin their business journey.
Always be on the lookout for something new. If you don't, there is always someone to one-up you and replace you at the throne. Not just Digital Marketing, things that work today for your business might not work tomorrow. So focus on innovation!
Be ready for contingencies and have a Plan B and even a Plan C. Over the years, I have seen many things that needed last-minute brilliancies for them to work. Be it moving batches online or unexpected client requirements, or even client accounts being blocked unexpectedly, every experience taught me something new.
Your journey will be so much better and smoother with a great team backing you. So take your team and invest in a good team. Have a proper flow of command and choose your leaders wisely. This will help your business greatly in the long run!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
For echoVME Digital and Digital Scholar, we are hiring for:
- Social Media Specialist
- Digital Marketing Specialist
- Video editors & Visualizers
We are looking for super creative and enthusiastic candidates with a growth mindset with a passion for Digital Marketing and content creation.
To apply for echoVME Digital, click here: Jobs
To apply for Digital Scholar, mail at: [email protected]
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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