Vikram Kotnis, a serial entrepreneur, introduced Vinayak Katkar, Pratik Rokade and Kiran Narasareddy, who were working for Fortune 500 companies, to entrepreneurship. Together, these College of Engineering, Pune, graduates founded digital marketing firm Amura Marketing Technologies in 2010. ”With digital, we saw a huge opportunity and decided to craft solutions and services around digital marketing,” says Kotnis, Co-founder and Managing Director.
This Pune-based startup, with centres in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, builds tech solutions to help companies manage their presence across digital platforms, use algorithm based-approach to buy digital media ad space and analyse and optimise marketing campaigns in real time. Amura calls its approach ‘Marketing Engineered’, which is about finding engineering (technology) solutions to marketing problems. “Our team uses technology to help clients achieve their core marketing goals,” says Kotnis.
As is the case with most startups, Amura’s beginning was tough. “It was a very challenging task to convince print and television-dependent Indian marketers and companies to try digital,” says Kotnis. The founders spent a considerable time educating potential clients on the necessity and value of moving from traditional media to digital platforms. They demonstrated the importance of digital as an effective medium for marketing and advertising.
“Helping clients understand how digital works, and how it allows more control than traditional media, helped us overcome the initial challenges,” says Kotnis. The growth in Internet penetration and boom in mobile phone usage, also helped boost digital marketing spends, and, in turn, helped Amura. ”Where some of our first clients would hesitate to allocate even a Rs 50,000 per month to digital, today, we are spending Rs 6 crore-plus per month on digital for our clients across India,” says 39-year-old Kotnis.
Founded with an initial investment of Rs 45 lakh, from Kotnis, Amura saw a revenue of around Rs 85 lakh in its first year of operation. It has seen a 200% year-on-year growth and closed 2015-16 with Rs 40 crore in revenue.
The startup has not gone for external funding and internal accruals have helped fund operations and growth. “Our offerings have been very well received and we always had very strong cash flows,” says Kotnis. From a five-member team, today this startup has a staff of 200 and more than 100 clients on board. “Most of the digital marketing companies tend to operate largely from a creative perspective. Our technology-intensive approach is our USP,” says Kotnis. The founders say that Amura’s data-driven marketing appraoch, with technology at the core of its operations, has given it an edge over the competition and helped it grow rapidly.
But growth has meant newer challenges: “As you scale, having strong processes that allow you to deliver on time and maintain quality are imperative. Especially, when it’s something like digital marketing which requires intensive departmental collaboration,” says Kotnis. To allow a seamless collaboration among teams of engineers, creatives, digital marketing experts, design teams, mobile tech experts, data scientists and customer engagement/support, the founders created in-house tech platforms. ”Our in-house interactive platforms have helped create a collaborative environment. They have enabled all the teams gain easy access to information, brought in checks at every step and also introduced transparency,” says Kotnis. This has helped in smoother operations.
Amura, which has won several awards, including for the most innovative real estate digital marketing campaign of the year (2015-16) and best digital campaign in real estate (2015-16), is now looking to lay greater thrust on the education, pharma, BFSI and SME sectors. “We see the strongest growth coming in from the SME sector in India. And, keeping this in mind, we will soon be launching our digital platform for SMEs,” says Kotnis.