In this section of Chasing your dream, We’re talking with Punit Bhandari, Founder of a digital agency from Nashik.After completing graduation in Business Administration and Post-Graduation in Advertising & Marketing from Symbiosis International University and Xavier Institute of Communication respectively, he took up a job in a Digital Marketing Agency where he learned that sitting on Facebook all day could also be turned into a lucrative career.
Confident about his skills after just 9 months of working, he decided to quit and start his own agency at the age of 23. From making tea to bringing in business, designing, coding, strategizing, he did everything single-handedly for a couple of years, before hiring a full-time team.
He has worked with dozens of brands and boasts of clients from different industries including Live Events, Hospitality, Clothing, Real Estate, Entertainment, Food & Beverages etc.
1.In the beginning, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Honestly, it was accidental! I hadn’t planned on becoming an Entrepreneur at all. But I realized that I wanted to have the liberty to work on things I like and the freedom to do them my way. Few months into my first job and I knew I wasn’t cut out for sitting at a desk all day. I love to travel and it’s easier for me to do that as an Entrepreneur rather than when I am working for someone else.
2.Describe to me the most exciting minute of your entrepreneurial journey.
Every time I accomplish something it feels exciting, no matter how small the accomplishment. The day I got my first client, the day my company got featured on a popular blog, the day I got nominated for Social Samosa’s 30 Under 30, this interview; these are things that make me happy.
3.What’s your favorite metaphor for describing entrepreneurship?
“Entrepreneurship is like rolling a dice in the game of cards. You never know what you are gonna get, you just have to make the most of it.”
4.Tell me something about your current and upcoming ventures.
Well, my first Entrepreneurial venture “The Ant Hill” is 5 years young now. I am quite proud of the journey so far. We started as a Full-Service Digital Communications Agency, but there is more clarity and focus in our service offerings now. I have expanded the client base to more than 5 different countries across 3 different continents. And it’s amazing that I am able to do this from Nashik, away from the daily grind of bigger cities. I am also venturing into a couple of my passion projects which will be a mix of Online, Photography, Travel, and Film Making. One of them is slated to be launched by Diwali and I am quite excited for it.
5.How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
I am blessed to have a family that supports Entrepreneurship. Thankfully, I have never had the pressure of choosing a steady full-time job. Initially, I couldn’t manage to give a lot of time to friends and family as there were no fixed work hours and I’d end up working through the day as well as night. But after the first few years, things are better since my team takes care of all the execution work pretty efficiently. So I am getting better at work-life balance. The only regret is being an Entrepreneur in a Digital Sector, most of my work or meetings happen over Emails or Skype. So it’s a bit of a bummer that I don’t get to go out and meet a lot of people.
6.Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you understood about entrepreneurship before you ever got started?
I think it’s a constant learning process. I am still making mistakes and learning as I go along. But, if I were to give myself one piece of advice and start all over again, I think I would ask myself to socialize more.
7.What entrepreneurial hacks have you developed to stay focused and productive in your day-to-day?
For starters, if you really want to focus on work, keep the phone away or get rid of Social Networking apps. I think push notifications on the phone make us quite anxious and tend to divert our attention to a dozen different things. I also think I am more productive working at night or on weekends when there is no client distracting you with emails or calls.
8.How much money do you think I could make if I started a business-like yours? Instead of, how much money do you make?
The idea of starting a business should be borne out of a passion for doing something rather than the money it will bring. As much as money matters, it’s more important to love what you do. You can always find ways to make money if you are excited about doing something. And with regards to how much money you can make, it all depends on how good you are at your work and how much effort you are willing to put into it. A business like mine can have clients from all over the world. Most of the people need branding and websites for their businesses. So the customer base is limited just by your capacity to serve them.
9.Your future plans.
I think we will very soon have a lot of people/companies embracing the Digital Nomad Lifestyle. Being in the Digital Space and working with clients across the globe, I am trying to make my company a location independent agency. What this basically means is doing away with a physical office. I believe employees are more efficient and motivated to work when they are entrusted with responsibility and the liberty to work as per their preferences. A cubicle or an office space restricts creativity and makes things monotonous. We are currently transitioning into this and very soon we will be location independent with people working for us virtually from anywhere in the world.
10.Message for young folks.
Take risks while you are still young. Don’t wait for what you might think is the right time. Sometimes you just need to take the plunge. The first step is usually the most difficult. And if you do decide to launch a business, don’t launch it with the intention of making it a valuation based success. Build things that either make a difference, create value or have an actual profit model.