Sramana Mitra: That’s wonderful. In fact, I would say that’s easier to do in Calcutta than in other parts of India and easier to do in other, smaller cities in India than a Bangalore or Bombay because the attitudes of people working in Bangalore, Bombay and so on is mercenary. They’re not interested in this kind of loyalty.
Srish Agrawal: Right. Absolutely, I agree with you.
SM: I had a similar experience when I started my first company with a Calcutta operation. You may have heard of it, Dais Infotech. We had almost no attrition because it was a cohesive team that wanted to work together. Today, probably, in the IT industry that’s no longer the case, but I think it depends on how you build the culture of the company.
SA: When you look at younger employees, the people you are hiring now, there’s definitely a fine bit of degradation already happening. If you talk about older employees – or team members, as I call them – the things are much better. In the younger generation, things are degrading to a certain extent.
SM: Unfortunately, in the name of development, that’s how it happens.
SM: What percentage of your business today is coming from Elance or one of the exchanges? Is Elance the only exchange you bid on these days, or are there others?
SA: We were trying to close down bidding on Elance quite a long time back. We moved on. We launched our own site. Luckily, it became very successful, and today, most of the orders that we get are through our website. We do not bid much on Elance.
SM: Tell me more about how you’re marketing your website. What is it that’s driving the traffic and orders to your website?
SA: One of the things is that we’re working a lot on improving the website conversions. We always do a few tunings in the website so that we’re not just targeting hits. We’re actually targeting conversions. We did a bit of price tuning. We did a bit of headline tuning. We wanted to improve the conversions, which has happened pretty well. Beyond that, we have always worked on ensuring that the message that is spread along the Internet about us or about our website is positive. We have worked pretty hard on building our reputation on the Web. When people come to your website, they are looking for your reputation, your security. That is reliability, trust. These are keywords that people look for before they bring out their credit cards.
SM: On a granular level, what is it that you’ve done?
SA: We have spent quite a bit on advertising on the Internet instead of looking for SEO. Everybody was going for SEO. We did quite a bit of media purchasing initially to give us that initial impetus. That initial media purchase helped us build a lot of resellers around the world who are still working with us. So, we were working more on the reseller model than on the end client model. When you build up resellers, they continue giving you projects on a long-term basis. That gives you a bit of extra growth that the end clients don’t. So, we always targeted resellers, and we moved ahead in the process of media buying on the Web.
SM: When you were doing media buying, are you talking mostly about PPC buying, or were you also doing banner ads and stuff?
SA: We were doing banner ads. PPC was pretty competitive already. So, we used to do banner ads in a strategic manner, as to which websites are being visited by what kind of people. Do all of the Web design companies gather together? Which are the forums where Web design companies gather? We used to publicize on those particular websites. That went well for us because other companies weren’t doing that. Today, most of them are doing the same thing. Since ours was one of the first companies to start advertising graphic design services, we were able to land a lot of big clients.
SM: So, that paid off well for you. When you were doing that kind of advertising on these sites and forums, were you also getting PR coverage at those sites?
SA: Not really a lot of PR coverage. No, we were not getting a lot.