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Chris Cardell

Interview with Manish Bhalla (FATbit Technologies)

FATbit Technologies is a web design company based in India.

I interviewed Manish Bhalla, FATbit founder to find out more. This is the two hundred and twenty first in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Manish!

How would you describe FATbit in under 50 words?

“We serve with smile at affordable prices”. We specialize in designing and developing highly convertible and user engaging websites.

What gap in the market did you discover that persuaded you to launch FATbit 2002?

Internet was at its infancy and recovering from burst of dotcom-bubble. WWW world was being re-constructed after unrealistic expectations of investors almost killed market confidence. There was a huge gap of skilled professionals to provide quality services and our plan was to fill the void.

How long did it take to get your first 5 clients?

5 Months

What was the most challenging part of setting up a web services company in the early 2000s?

Ignorance of target audience. Before the IT revolution, people were mostly dealing in commodities that could be touched, tried and felt. Web solutions, being a virtual product, defied this logic. FATbit offers custom web solutions and there is no way to judge cost without hiring a professional to do requirements analysis, cost and time estimation.

Who do you see as your target market? How are you reaching them?

WWW industry is perhaps the biggest industry with over 200+ Billion USDs being spent every year globally. Sadly, no web solutions company has yet managed to get even 1% of this market. Our target market is primarily those seeking ecommerce solutions and business applications.

We get 80% of our business from repeat clients and referrals. To acquire new clients, we invest in AdWords, SEO, SMM and Content Marketing (Mostly Inbound Marketing).

How do you protect your company from the problem of Brain Drain?

Brain drain is a chronic issue in the IT industry. Young professionals want to climb the hierarchy ladder quickly and if you fail to address their needs, they switch. We manage the problem of brain drain by giving equal opportunities of growth to every employee and paying attention to aspirations. We preserve our best talent by opting for a combination of monetary and non-monetary benefits. Our HR team is also doing great work in this regard by regularly gathering feedback from team and making FATbit one of the best Indian web services firms to work for.

How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?

Client acquisition cost is very high in our industry. From the very beginning, we were clear that we have to deliver quality services at affordable pricing to survive and grow in this industry. To achieve QUALITY, we have stringent quality control processes in place. We follow SDLC process and use a project management system for daily reporting. Clients can login to the in-house developed PMS system to stay informed about project progress. Clients can actually see how their work is being done, who all are involved in the project, and even communicate with team members. Every minute spent on the project is logged and reported into the PMS system and is visible to clients. And to sweeten the deal further, we provide FREE technical support for 12 months after project completion.

Where do you see FATbit in 5 years time?

We are targeting annual turnover of 5 Million USDs by the end of 2018 and annual growth of 40%-50%. We are trying hard to earn honest appreciation from our customers to be counted amongst the most reliable web solutions provider at global level.

What kind of online businesses are going to be more successful in next 5 years?

  • Search
  • Ecommerce
  • Online communication/collaboration/documents storage and sharing
  • eLearning websites

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

“People buy from you when they trust you”. Our majority of clients are based in Europe and USA. Their first choice is local web solutions provider for obvious reasons. However, our large variety of successfully completed projects, big percentage of repeat clients and industry experience works in our favor. Add cost factor to this and we become the logical choice for entrepreneurs as well as web solutions companies in different countries. That said, the challenge is still alive and breathing.

To mitigate this challenge, we are planning to establish offices in USA and Mauritius. We are also associating with large web solutions providers based in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Nigeria, South Africa, Middle East and Australia. So, the biggest hurdle may not remain that big in a couple of years.

What advice would you offer to anyone looking to enter the web services arena?

The competition is brutal in the web services industry. You have to differentiate yourself and build the USP quickly because WWW world is changing every second.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

In past 2 years, we did 100s of experiments related to User Experience on our website. We have got really astonishing results; our website’s bounce rate has hit rock-bottom, we get quality leads and many partnership offers every day. We are excited to deliver User Experience Optimization services to our customers and thousands of online entrepreneurs out there.

Can you convince the reader to consider using FATbit for their next project in under 50 words?

“We serve with smile at affordable prices.” If you want the CHEAPEST, hire a freelancer. If you want the BEST –FATbit is among the best options available. Send us your business plans and project specifications –our team will use their experience & expertise to deliver professional solution.

Finished reading? Check out FATbit Technologies!

Interview with Ander Michelena (Ticketbis)

Ticketbis is an internet website where everyone can buy and sell tickets for various events

I interviewed Ander Michelena, Ticketbis founder to find out more. This is the two hundred and twentieth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Ander!

How would you describe Ticketbis in under 50 words?

Ticketbis is an online platform which allows users to buy and sell tickets to all sorts of events all over the world. Ticketbis acts as an intermediary between users who have tickets to an event that they won´t be able to attend and those users interested in buying them.

How did you meet co-founder Jon Uriarte?

We actually met on a flight to London. We were both in the airport when we discovered that we were workmates, both working at investment bank Morgan Stanley. We had more things in common, such as we were both from Bilbao and we were both supporters of the football team Athletic Bilbao!

What gap in the market did you discover that persuaded you to launch Ticketbis late 2009?

At the time we were working at Morgan Stanley and we were both burnt out. We had been researching different business models that had had success in the United States and we noticed that there was a gap in the market for a secondary ticketing market in Spain, so we decided to go for it and start Ticketbis. We jumped in the swimming pool and luckily there was water!

Who do you see as your target audience? How are you reaching them?

Ticketbis’ target audience is men and women aged between 25 to 45 years old and the majority of our users know exactly what they are searching for, so for us Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is fundamental; the majority of sales actually come from SEM. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is also very important for us. It is essential that we are well positioned in search engines, mainly Google.

You have offices all over the world! How do you manage time differences and distance?

In Spain we have offices in Madrid and Bilbao, with the majority of staff in Spain situated in the Madrid office. In Latin America we have offices in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Bogotá and Santiago de Chile. I spend the majority of my time in the Madrid office, whereas Jon usually divides his time between the offices in Madrid and Bilbao. With our offices overseas we hold regular meetings using tools such as Google chat and Skype to make sure we stay connected with what is going on. In addition to this both Jon and I try to go at least twice a year to the offices in South America and we get the staff working there come and work in Madrid, this way the whole Ticketbis team gets to know each other. We believe it is important that all the pieces of the puzzle that make up Ticketbis are connected.

You’ve received $5.65M in funding. How difficult was it to secure this funding?

Actually we have received slightly more than that. In total we have raised $7.9M (€5.8M) in four rounds of funding.

We both left Morgan Stanley in 2009, during the crisis. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to find capital but we knew from talking to potential investors that we had a good idea. Finally after fighting for 4 months we closed our first round of funding of $550k (€400k) among the famous triple F: Friends, Family and Fools. Convincing Friends and Family is easier because they will always support you if they can. However, the challenge is to attract “Fools” or angel investors with a track record, who can open up doors for you. We had good luck of finding 2 businessmen who had had a lot of success: Eneko Knorr (founder of ideatecca and Hostalia) and Nicolás Iglesias (founder of Arsys). Later we closed our second round of $1.3M (€1M) where we were lucky enough to have investors such as Fabrice Grinda and José Marín. One year later, in 2012, we closed our third round of funding, obtaining $1.2M (€900k), and then in July 2013 we closed our fourth round of funding $4.8M (€3.5M).

Why have you targeted South America?

We decided to target South America as there were no competitors there who were working in the secondary ticketing market. Moreover, internet connections are constantly improving, and e-commerce is growing at an incredible rate. Also the most important sporting events and the biggest music tours can all be found in South America.

How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?

What differentiates Ticketbis from other secondary ticketing companies is that we are present in more than 18 countries; this allows us to offer tickets to over 1 million events all over the world. In addition, we have a global team made up of local professionals, originating from all the markets in which we operate. This enables us to offer our clients a more personalised service, in their native language and in their local currency.

What protection do you offer against forged tickets?

Ticketbis has guarantees in place to make sure that the tickets purchased by the buyer arrive on time and are 100% legitimate. In order to ensure that the tickets are original and are exactly the ones which the buyer had ordered, we don’t pay the seller until the buyers has attended the event and have confirmed that there were no problems with the tickets. Additionally, the finance department make routine checks to check that there are no problems with payments. Our main concern is that both the buyer and seller are covered.

Where do you see Ticketbis in 5 years time?

We have plans to continue our strategy of international expansion, and as well as this our intention is to reinforce our position as market leaders not only in Spain but also in the other countries that we operate. Since founding Ticketbis we have witnessed its rapid growth and we hope to continue with this growth for a long time!

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Initially there were a few hurdles. Firstly, Jon and I had no idea of the ticketing market or how e-commerce worked, and there was a moment of fear when we got everything up and running and we thought “now how do we find buyers?”; you cannot imagine our relief when just a couple hours after being officially online we made our first sale. I even still remember the first buyer´s name! He bought two tickets to see U2 in Barcelona.

What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?

I would encourage all would-be startup founders to pursue their dream and make it a reality. In my experience there is no “perfect moment” to start a business. I also believe there is no secret key to success; you just need the desire to work hard and to not become disheartened if things go to plan in the beginning. It is important to stay motivated, and if you execute your idea well you will continue moving forward.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Honestly the thing that excites me most at the moment is the fact that we are creating jobs. In Spain right now youth unemployment is over 50% and knowing that we are able to create jobs is really motivating for me. In the last year we have gone from 80 members of staff to over 200 who speak more than 20 languages from 17 different nationalities.

Can you convince the reader to start using Ticketbis in under 50 words?

Just found out that you can’t attend a concert that you had bought tickets for months ago?
All the tickets to see your favourite band are sold out?
Buy and sell your tickets on Ticketbis!!

Finished reading? Check out Ticketbis!

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