Kalyan Yerra gave up a well-paying job to launch his digital business with a mere Rs.3 lakh
Successful businesses, at times can start really small. 84 ideas, a digital agency, saw its beginnings with a spur of thought, with little investments, even without parental support. Kalyan Sagar Yerra left a well-paying job and ventured into business with his childhood friend Karthikeyan Krishnan. This was three years ago.
Talking about the initial business idea, Kalyan says, “There is a gap to be filled. Businesses in India did not exploit social media to its full potential like in the West. For most companies, a website is simply a brochure or a hoarding that can be accessed 24×7. One fine day in June 2008, Karthikeyan and I started off the business without a plan and with a mere `3 lakh.”
“Not every business falls into this category. When you are planning to launch a new product in the market, obviously, there is need for research, drawing up of investment and business plans but it was not the case with 84 ideas,” he adds.
There was not much support from the family either. He says, “I don’t hail from a business family. My father is a government employee and so is my grandfather. They were completely against the idea of me quitting a good MNC job to set up a business. However, I was sufficiently convinced to go ahead with my idea.”
There were challenges to tackle during the formation of 84 ideas. “It is quite challenging to start without any entrepreneurial experience, funds and mentorship. We had initial trouble convincing the businesses. They were unwilling to give it a try. But when they saw the success of other companies in engaging customers, creating conversations and driving more business, they began warming up to the idea as well,” says Kalyan.
The 22-employee company has since run many successful social media campaigns. “Online presence should reflect the core part of business function. We use different social media tools depending on the industry. For example, for Kalamandir, we created communities where people interact about saris. The whole experience of buying a sari should not be limited to the shop. We inform the people about where the company sources saris from, the people who make them, etc. We also conducted many contests, where people shared their pictures and experiences about their saris. In a way, it connects people with a common interest. These types of social campaigns lend an emotional connect to the user while also helping in brand recall when needed,” he says.
The company expanded its presence to Dubai and Netherlands in 2010 and 2011. The duo has invested whatever they earned back into the company enabling them to reach a turnover of `2 crore last fiscal. The company is expecting a `3.5 crore revenue this year.
Talking about their new plans, Kalyan says, “We are trying to build applications on Andriod and on iOS, which can solve simple problems common to India. For example, a tweet from a refrigerator saying that ice is chilled and opening the lock of the house with a smart phone without the need of a key.”
“These applications targeting general consumers and business will give a boost to our revenues,” says Kalyan. The company enjoys margins ranging from 5-10 per cent on different projects.
Kalyan’s parents are now happy with the progress of the company. “My parents were just wary about me getting into uncharted water, not against it. They were concerned about me. The happiest moment of my life was when my parents realised that I can actually do it,” he beams.
On the personal front, Kalyan loves to go on long drives in his Mahindra Scorpio. He even drives it to business meetings in Bangalore and Mumbai. Reading books and watching films are his hobbies. His favourite authors are Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Malcom Gladwell. Tipping point by Gladwell is his all time favourite book.