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Digital space turns into launch pad for Goan startup

IT startup, Espressotive founded by Sudhir Shetty, shows potential of tapping opportunities in the upcoming digital marketing space, finds out Serilda Coutinho

When you think of applying for a job in the IT sector, IT hubs like Pune and Bangalore are sure to top the search list. Engineering graduates in the state usually shift their base to these cities for better job prospects and the trend has been unwavering over the years. However what comes as a sigh of relief for young job seekers are the openings created through local startups.

Recognising the vast potential in digital marketing and despite the lack of awareness in the state, Sudhir Shetty, founded Espressotive, in April 2015. The IT startup is incubated at CIBA, Verna, from where it continues to operate.  “When I decided to start my own software company I did not know where to start from. I did not even know an incubation center called CIBA existed in Goa back then” says Shetty.

The startup has a certificate of recognition from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. It provides digital marketing, web designing and software packages in billing. Coming from a software engineering background Shetty worked for about seven years including handing projects for the state electricity department for spot billing systems. Explaining his journey he says “As a lead engineer I had to handle a team of about 25-30 team members for the project and that is where I realised that I had the potential to start a business of my own”.

Shetty started his company with a team of two members and now the team consists of six members. He says that, 80 per cent of his clients are locals. “I started with designing websites for restaurants and shack owners in Goa” says Shetty.

As a startup one of the major challenges faced by the firm was to raise the finance needed to setup the company.  Pointing out the struggle to self-finance an IT startup, he says “I could not get a loan from the bank because as a software firm we have no physical assets to prove the presence of our business”.  Another challenge that he mentions is paying the employees when the business was in its initial phase. Shetty says “it is not easy to get clients in the very first month but you cannot keep your employees waiting so you have to use your savings till the business is established”. According to him being incubated in CIBA was an advantage for a first time entrepreneur like him as he could easy sail through the formalities needed to start the company due to the hand holding provided.

As most local companies have switched to the online mode of operation and high speed internet is easily accessible to the users, digital marketing has now picked up pace in the state, claims Shetty. When the startup started its operation convincing clients to promote their business on the online platform was difficult. “It is easier to explain website designing as you can show clients your work but digital marketing is an ongoing process that needs to be customised depending upon the clients requirements,” he explains.

A certified trainer from Google in digital marketing, Shetty started off by creating the ecosystem needed to sustain in the business. “I train students at various institutes and also conduct courses for digital marketing in CIBA to create awareness and hire people to work for our company”.

While beginning a digital marketing project, the firm first conducts a market analysis to understand the client’s competitors and chalks out the package depending on the client’s position in the market. Some of the clientele includes Purple Truffle, an event planning company based in Varca, V M Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education, Raia and Prabhudesai Electronics, Margao. Sharing the pride of promoting local startups, he points out “We also handle digital marketing for Foodbudz, a food delivery startup incubated in CIBA, Verna”

According to Shetty, the implementation of the Goa IT policy and the recognition provided to local startups, has encouraged first time entrepreneurs to jump on the self-employment bandwagon. “We had no description of a startup prior to launch of the policy in the state. Now we get ample of benefits like tax and GST exemption, reimbursement of salaries for local employees etc under the guidelines provided”. He senses this as a positive move as being a local unit they had to compete with startups across India for certification in the absence of the state platform. “We now have a space dedicated for ourselves, with the recognition provided and the incentives offered are beneficial for us to sustain in the market,” he explains.

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