I Had To Shut Down My Startup, Only To Restart It For The Best
The fear of becoming a professor or a PhD guide drove me to an academic suicide. I, at 23 years, was failing in pharmacy. One morning I informed my guide about quitting the PhD course.
I decided then, I’ll do what I love to do, not what I dread doing every morning.
My father was convinced that my life is over. I was convinced I’ll never go back to academics. And my mother, the most logical one amongst us, told me and my father to stop being so dramatic.
A dear aunt suggested, “Why don’t you try content writing? There are websites where you can register as a freelance writer and companies pay you to write from home.” I knew I loved writing. So the best option was to learn to make money from it. So in 2014, a clueless content writer was born to escape an academic career. The first job was to write articles for INR 50 which held a joy of its own!
After nearly 6 months as a freelance writer, I was offered a job as a digital marketer and content manager in Pune. And lo behold! 3 months into it, I was fired for underperforming!
But as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Deciding To Be A Solo Entrepreneur
“Am I doing the right thing?”
“Would the pace of success accelerate with a co-founder?”
“Can I handle this issue on my own?”
While Paul Graham lists being a single founder as one of the 18 reasons why a startup fails, I had no choice other than starting iScribblers alone.
While contemplating to start iScribblers, I got in touch with a person who had worked with me as a freelancer for an IT company in the past. With the common aim of starting a company we thought, “Let’s do it together.”
From Day 1 we were arguing over all matters. Right from selecting the co-working space to the responsibilities each one would partake and the kind of clients we would work with, there was disagreement in everything. The next month, he quit.
Looking back, the only thing we had in common was to start a business. There was no respect or trust between us. Two and half years later, things have turned out to be good. They’ve not been so forever, though.
The Cost Of Being A Solopreneur
The next day of returning from a mother-daughter trip from Himachal Pradesh, and not even half a quarter into starting iScribblers, my father was diagnosed with cancer. We decided I had to move to Bhavnagar, my hometown until he recovered. At the lowest point in my life, I used to think that had there been a co-founder, iScribblers wouldn’t have had to shut down for a whole year.
2017 came with the challenge of re-starting my career. With zero budget, I started working from a co-working space in January. The first month was dedicated to calling up all the old clients and telling them that iScribblers was up and running again. This got in small projects enough to pay for the rent of the space. The next month, the revenues were surplus and the work was more than I could handle!
From March onwards, the first superstar joined my one member team. Starting as a content writer, she is now a team leader. The second rockstar joined the team in April. Today, she is one of the best graphic designers I know.
And 15 months later, we are a team of 6 strong in-house team members and 3 freelancers.
The iScribblers Team
iScribblers, A Women Powerhouse
From day one of iScribblers, we’ve been a woman powerhouse and a truly employee-first agency. The most important and beautiful aspect of the firm being, a lot of attention is given to nurturing their happiness at work and each one’s camaraderie with the colleagues.
From the very onset, I was clear that people won’t come here because there are parties every-weekend or to work at a fancy workplace, unlike the culture trending at some companies. I believe those kinds of things aren’t the keys to success.
The best way to succeed (the way we did) is to have happy employees who are knowledgeable and passionate about learning new things - and who genuinely like each other.
When someone feels a little low or runs out of creativity, taking a day off is the best medicine.
From this came happy, engaged customers who stay with us for a long time. I also realised, having to shut down iScribblers for a year has made me much more empathetic.
From 0 To a 6-Figure Revenue In 13 Months
The beauty of doing a business in the internet domain is that anyone with a laptop and an internet connection has the chance to make his/her own destiny (and money). All one needs is the will to be a hustler, to go against the norm and the hunger to succeed. With these qualities, you’re unstoppable.
While we are essentially a content marketing, PR and infographic creation firm, we’ve spent 0 Rs on marketing.
We’ve spent a lot of our time and energy in creating high-quality content and placing it in the right publication. Our target audience frequently visits these publications and websites. So we try to build an ongoing relationship with the editors by regularly sharing insightful content, instead of one piece once in a while.
Another hack working wonders for us is building influence on LinkedIn, where I share everything I’ve learned about building and running a company, content marketing and public relations. The audience, who loves consuming bit-sized insightful nuggets of content, is super engaged.
While previously, all the leads generated were inbound, since the last 10 days, we’ve started our sales funnel. I believe, the founder has to be an excellent salesman.
Within 15 months, we now work with 20+ brands who, in return, have helped us build a 6-figure income.
Becoming India’s Leading Content Marketing Agency
When I started as a content writer 5 years ago, brands used to pay me a mere INR 50-75 for every 500 words. It seemed a big amount back then. Within 3 months, I wrote more than 250 articles and taught myself to write for a living and started learning about content marketing. Initially, I took up every writing job I could find - even those with no pay. This way, I honed my writing skills to excellence.
Then, two things happened:
1. I got to know that there is a huge demand in the market for high-quality content. Companies could get writers to write 500-800 word blogs. Most of my competitors offer the same page blog writing services. I blended high-quality content with guest blogging outreach and positioned my clients as thought leaders in their subject, which further translated into increased sales. This lead to…
2. More work - more than what I could handle. I also started guest blogging regularly and companies started reaching out to me for the same. These clients were willing to pay top dollars for creating and posting lead generating content.
The goal, when I started iScribblers, was to find the best writers who shared my passion for writing in-depth content to please every editor. Together, we learn and progress. I want my team to become the best content writing and marketing agency on the darn planet!
Public Relations - The Accidental Service
Last year, when we were creating content for a client, a $10 million funded company, the marketing head said they were unable to get covered by some of the leading international outlets. Although they were paying a 6-figure monthly fee to a top PR agency, they were still not able to get them covered by the best international media. We took up the experiment, brainstormed on the story angles with the core team and started pitching to editors, journalists and contributors.
And within 3 months, we got them covered by top 3 media outlets. We realized, we had this skill of bringing out different story angles and pitching them to the right people. We believe in building genuine relations with journalists and writers. They cover our clients not because we are influential (we are nobody in this saturated PR market) but because our stories are engaging for the reader.
Two months ago, an angel investor asked me, “What separates your agency from the hundreds of others out there? The bigger agencies have a far better reach than you.” It compelled me to think. And now, we not just get media outlets to write about our clients but also get them to connect with their audience one-on-one by using speaker opportunities.
Even before the engagement starts, we make sure to pitch and create a plan that wows the founder and then our (tough) job is to convert his/her dreams into press opportunities. This way, we became a new age media and public relations company - on a mission to be the best one in India!
Dreams Do Come True
I was completely bootstrapped. I had to close down and restart. I saw dreams come true with no outside funding, no safety net. An entrepreneur has to romance both success and failure. A great company culture and serving clients with the best customer service - your success is limitless.
I hire people who care for our clients. A supportive family and passionate go-getter staff is the secret to success. I’m proud to say that every single person on the iScribblers team cares for each other, constantly evolves, adapts, reshapes and moulds our services to match the standards of today and tomorrow.
We share the goal of making iScribblers the planet’s best content marketing and public relations agency.
This is a personal narrative by Priyanka Desai is the Founder of iScribblers, a content marketing, infographic and PR agency.
D*****Oh hey!! I wrote to Priyanka at iScribblers. Never heard back from her. I wonder if that means 'you're not good enough' 😊
G*****Even I want to give it a try How to contact u Can u help?