How Gaurav Went From Charging $300mo to Landing $100,000 projects

Oz Konar:            Hey, everyone. I’m with Gaurav today. He is a very good friend and has been an old client. He’s been with us for a long time right now, so I wanted to bring him on and have him share with us his journey through my coaching and through their own efforts because they had been a massive company in India when I first met them. Now, they’re doing even much better, so I wanted to bring him on and have you guys here from him as well. So, Gaurav, welcome and thanks for joining me today. The first thing I’m gonna ask you, Gaurav, can you tell me a little bit about your company in India and of course your transitioning into the US that whole structure, so people can learn more about your business?

Gaurav:                So, thanks, Oz, for all your time has provided and what a value to our business, and it’s given a lot of structure to our group in the last one, one year or 18 months that we’ve been working together also. To answer your question, so you know we are a digital marketing and technology company, so we have a company called Saffron Tech, which does a lot of technology into web application, mobile applications. We are a Microsoft certified partner. We are one of the biggest custom applications … one of the bigger customer … custom application companies out of India and the US.

Gaurav:                Then, the second brand that we have is called Saffron Edge, and that is more in the digital marketing space. We work with small businesses, corporates, single owner businesses, and help them to really identify the market, see how to scale the business, how to create more leads and generate more business out of those leads. That’s the two areas we’re in. What … The reason we got in touch with you, Oz, was when it’s about two years back when we made that decision that we want to be a formative player in the US as well, and not just work out of in India as an outsourcing company. We wanted someone who was experienced, who runs a business of his own in the US, whose in the same space, and we can really help us be focused in the direction that we want to have.

Gaurav:                Fortunately, we were able to get in touch with Oz, and we had a few of our calls where Oz kind of introduced us to his way of mentoring and training and it seemed like the right fit and in the last two years we’ve been helped in various different manner and the aspects of the business. Today, we have a running business in the US. We have an office in New York, New Jersey. We’ve hired people. We are increasing our team’s strength and I think we’re very clear for the next three years of what our direction is going to be for the growth. I think I did answer your question, and I went a little more.

Oz Konar:            Yeah, you did more. That’s awesome.

Gaurav:                Okay.

Oz Konar:            One thing that I remember, Gaurav, you guys definitely transformed our business. One thing that you and Vibhu, your partner, was not happy about is that you just didn’t want to be another outsourcing company out of India.

Gaurav:                That’s true.

Oz Konar:            You wanted to change yourself and you were not really clear how that would work because obviously when you’re over there every Indian based company they pretty much do the same thing, right? It’s like raised to the zero. Can you do SEL for $500? Oh, I can do it for $400, $300, $200, so it’s like a death trap. You can’t really escape it, so I remember that’s why you guys figured that well, that’s not gonna go anywhere and you’re feeding a lot of people in your office. I think as far as I remember you have over a hundred people, right, working with you right now?

Gaurav:                Yes, we have a decent team size. We’re actually close to 200 people.

Oz Konar:            Wow.

Gaurav:                With our staffing division as well, so, yeah, we have a massive workforce here, and you’re absolutely right. We’ve been in the business for the last almost 11 years now, and we had a modest beginning as well as you rightly said the co-founder, Vibhu, has been instrumental in our growth as well, and so we both came to a point after six to seven years of our business of what next, you know? We’ve been majority of our customers are in North America. Though we have business from the rest of the world as well, but the majority of the business comes from North America and I’ve lived there, I’ve studied there, I went to New York [inaudible 00:05:14] and did my graduation there and worked there for a bit, so we understand the culture very well.

Gaurav:                I think the next step that we wanted to do was to be in the market that we’re doing business for, and so it seemed like a very obvious progression and something that we wanted to grow our business in that direction, but, yes, we were a little directionless if I may call it because we had too many things that we could do, you know?

Oz Konar:            Right.

Gaurav:                And sometimes too many choices doesn’t help because then you’re not focusing. You’re not putting your energy into something where the efforts can bring in results. I think that has been one of the biggest learnings with spending time with you. The whole niche conversation-

Oz Konar:            Yeah.’

Gaurav:                And not just the niche conversation, but to bring our focus onto doing things that you can do the best because the market is so huge that you don’t have to worry about how big is the market for any product. If you’re good at do … If you’re good at what you do even if you sell one thing, you can really have a decent part of the market. In that ways, I think we are very focused and we’ve understood how to scale our business and it did take us about a year. You know we’ve had numerous conversations going back and forth and figuring out what we should be doing, what we shouldn’t be doing, so it did take us a year and with you all to understand that, but in the last six to eight months, now, we are seeing a lot of results of our conversations and we can see that we’re moving in the right direction.

Oz Konar:            Yeah, and one thing I love about you guys, Gaurav, and usually the problem with companies who’ve been around for a while is they’re just too set in their ways. They don’t want to change. There’s habit built in. It’s very difficult to make a change and add to that we have a very large organization and in big organizations like that change is very slow, but you guys are very clear that it starts from the top. It starts from you Gaurav and Vibhu, and you guys are just you’re just ready to take action on whatever we recommend on those calls and I know that it took a while to digest the idea of niching down because you had clients from pretty much any industry that I don’t know if there’s any industry that you guys haven’t worked in over the years.

Gaurav:                Yeah.

Oz Konar:            And what I mentioned first I said hey, you guys, this is awesome, but you can’t really go deeper in any of them and charge more because you don’t have expertise in this specific field. You have experience in them, but expertise is a little different, right? So, it took a while to kind of hone in to bring that in. Right now, I think that just like you said now you’re seeing why that’s been really helping you and now how you were just discussing sharing with me that you decided to move to the US, right, and you have the operations here, and you hired two US based people, and now you guys finally are focusing on one or two specific areas. Can you share a little bit about, like you shared with me that you were working on large, very large projects that you guys maybe were getting it, but you were getting it randomly here and there? Now, it’s a lot more strategic right now, right?

Gaurav:                Absolutely, so if I get into a little more details like you asked. Two of the main divisions that we see for Saffron for the next at least five years is in digital marketing. We are very good in search engine optimization, paid ads, online reputation, and the social aspect of it, and we are really geographically we are more focusing on the price state, so that’s our geographic focus that we’ve brought in our business. It’s not that we don’t take business from different coasts of the US. We absolutely do. Not just the US, but the rest of the world, but our focus, our efforts, have been put more on the tri-state area. That’s one side of the focus.

Gaurav:                On the industry, while we have been working with various industries, and we’ve been helping various industries with digital marketing and we will continuously doing so.

Oz Konar:            Right, yeah.

Gaurav:                We continue to do so, but a lot of our effort going forward will be in the healthcare domain. We have a good understanding for the healthcare domain. We have a lot of technology products. We’ve done various digital marketing with healthcare domain and the whole tri-state up in New Jersey and Boston is very high on healthcare, so that’s one of the niche focuses that we have identified for ourselves. Moving on to the technology, again, we are building up our brand and it’s started showing a lot of results in the whole New York tri-state area again. So, working … We were working with a lot of startups and small businesses, but over the last six months with our focus in the tri-state we’ve been able to get some mid-sized companies and some enterprise level customers as well, and we want to be focused more on the web application, the custom mobile application, and software testing. Those are the three main domains that we have kind of identified for ourselves.

Gaurav:                Though we do have the knowledge and we provide solutions to our clients who come to us for IOT, internet of things, for cloud computing-

Oz Konar:            Right.

Gaurav:                Different machine learning. Some are the machine learning projects as well, but we’re not, as we’re saying, we are not putting our efforts to really focus on that customer.

Oz Konar:            Sure.

Gaurav:                Our customer is a client whose looking for a good professional company-

Oz Konar:            Yeah.

Gaurav:                Who can work with them as their technology partners building their web mobile applications and doing software testing for whatever they have built in Legacy systems or they are building right now.

Oz Konar:            Absolutely, and from our past conversations I remember that you guys always had your eye on larger projects because you know that there’s no shortage of them in the US, right? So, there are companies who are closing on a ton of very large projects and the reason you guys wanted to do it. Obviously, that’s super profitable because you already have a team of developers, very experienced, certified in many areas that are required for that and it was always the struggle of bringing more business to keep them busy and make profit for the company.

Oz Konar:            Right now, it seems like you kind of have figured out that part by being more present in the United States and building a strategic relationship with people because those kinds of projects work more on relationship marketing then digital marketing. Yeah, you can put your head out there and you can get projects, but there’s no rapport or relationship because it’s usually very complicated projects and people don’t mind paying fifty, one hundred, two-hundred thousand dollars, thousand dollar budgets, for things like that, but they want to have a face not just the company logo.

Gaurav:                Exactly.

Oz Konar:            I think that’s one of the ways that you guys were leading with your company name and now it’s more like hey, I know this guy named Gaurav. He’s awesome, but he came by, we talked, and now he’s a buddy, right?

Gaurav:                Sure. And not just that. Our plan, we’ve already started working on it. As I said, we made two hirings already and we are hiring more people, and our plan is to give onshore the developers. Onshore team to the company that we work with as well, so our clients are going to be working with designers, project managers, developers who are onshore who can work from our office and even go to their office and work from. We are going to provide that onshore capability that has been missing, you know? At least from our business, so we’re moving in that direction as well.

Oz Konar:            Absolutely, so if you were to be talking to someone whose considering to work with you, what is one of the biggest takeaways that you have from our time together?

Gaurav:                All right, so there’s so many takeaways, but I think … Let me say the three most important takeaways, right? I think the first most important takeaway is to find a domain that you can expertise in. Of course, with your skills and your capabilities, finding a domain that you can understand as an industry and really go deep into it, then going just wide in too many industries. I think that was one of the main things that we got from you and that has really helped us. Second, I think finding a focus on geographically market as well that you can have to build those relationships as well. Have a face to the customer and not just a logo, as you said before. I think that’s the second most important thing that we got from your training.

Gaurav:                The third most important point that we got from you of course, which I think is very important is to have a real focus on margins for a business and how do you productize your service so that when you are in front of a client every time you’re not starting from scratch and the work that you have done how do you put it together as a product so that you already have a platform that you can bring it in front of your customers? We have done a lot of work in healthcare domain, so that is what we are doing as we speak. We are trying to create a platform for healthcare both in digital marketing and technology so that when we are in front of a customer we are already five steps ahead of our competition.

Oz Konar:            Yeah.

Gaurav:                I think these are the three main points I would say.

Oz Konar:            No, I appreciate it. Yeah, you guys are very smart business owners, and you love implementing new things to separate yourselves from the other people because on one end if it was someone else that person would’ve thought that there was just too much competition. You’re out of India, everyone is doing digital marketing and things like that. You guys didn’t see it that way, you wanted to just kind of grow out of that crowd and became one of the biggest as far as I know, so that’s awesome. This interview will be seen by many people, and I know some of them will need help with their digital marketing or website design or maybe on larger projects, so if they see this and if they want to work with you guys, what is the best way to reach out to you guys?

Gaurav:                Absolutely. You can reach out to one of our websites. Main one

Oz Konar:            Okay.

Gaurav:                And just fill up a form and somebody will be able to get in touch with you and we’ll take the conversation ahead or reach out to me on Linkedin. My name is Gaurav Sabharwal and I’m one of the founders for Saffron Tech, and we’ll take the conversations from there.

Oz Konar:            Perfect. Yeah, what I will do is on the description of this video, I’m gonna put both your Linkedin profile and the website, so people can connect with you if they have any questions about any projects or anything that they’re working on, so because obviously guys if you’re watching this I trust these people, Gaurav and Vibhu. They’re the best in what they do, so I have no doubt in recommending and in anything they do. I’m not … I would not even hesitate for a second, so I love these guys. Gaurav, I don’t want to hold you any longer, but thanks so much for your time. I appreciate this. It’s been great having you. Let’s stay in touch and let’s build this thing to the sky.

Gaurav:                Thank you, of course. Thanks for your time today and have a good day, and I’m happy to help, so anytime. No problem at all.

Oz Konar:            Perfect. Thank you.