We talked to Deep Mehta of DigiChefs about digital marketing and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Deep Mehta: I am doing great, and so is my family. I’d say God has been really kind so far. Like everyone else, the first 2-3 months of this pandemic were very worrisome, a bit chaotic. However, as time progressed, I learnt to utilize this extra time I had in the day to focus on things that I could never get prioritized due to a shortage of time. Things like spending time with my loved ones, learning new skills, thinking about the bigger goals & purpose of my life and so on.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded DigiChefs.
Deep Mehta: I am an engineer by education & approach in life, with a dominant love for marketing over the last decade. I have been in the digital marketing space for over 8 years now as a professional, and I’ve been connected to this space for over 10 years. I am an expert in Search Engine Optimization, Analytics, Email Marketing primarily. Apart from this, my exposure to the creative side of things while leading a creative team at my previous organization helped me vividly look at the whole picture. That’s when I partnered up with Marmik who I worked with in my previous organization, and we teamed up to start DigiChefs.
We found DigiChefs back in 2015 when we realized that there is a big gap in the market between what clients seek and what agencies deliver. While the approach by agencies had always been to commoditize activities to clients, the latter actually wanted solutions to their business problems. That’s what we set out to do by founding DigiChefs.
How does DigiChefs innovate?
Deep Mehta: As a team that’s growing organically by approx. 50-75% year on year in terms of team size & revenue, we’re working on real challenges all the time. We, the senior management, like to consider ourselves scientists (our documents actually say that) and we carefully pick up one problem at a time and dive deep to resolve it. There’s a Trello board that keeps getting populated with new challenges as they appear, and it’s then assigned to the relevant folks in our fortnightly internal meetings. We don’t shy away from taking drastic measures if the outcome will help us move forward from where we are right now. This proactive approach to problem-solving essentially makes the team come up with innovative solutions on an unbelievably regular basis.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Deep Mehta: We lost about 50% of our business in March – April 2020. That was a really tough time for the whole team. We were very sure there would be no job cuts, it’d be simply inhuman to do this. This meant that we will have to carefully start depleting our reserves which were kept specially for extreme situations like the pandemic itself. I remember that team meeting in early April 2020, when I just stood cold, very transparently, in front of all my teammates in our Google Meet, and I told them that they’d simply need to trust me and give me their 100% every minute they work with DigiChefs. We’d have to do things we’ve never done before, and deliver results to our clients that they never expected before, to keep the boat sailing for all of us. And my team did exactly that! We had 12-14 hour workdays, we worked on weekends, we wore multiple hats depending on what the situation demanded, and we got the fruits of all this hard work.
We sailed through till June 2020, with no job cuts or salary cuts either. That’s when business picked up again, by October 2020 we were already at revenues pre-Covid. By Dec 2020, we were 25% higher in terms of revenues & team size.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Deep Mehta: Not many difficult choices as such, but tons of lessons learnt. When I paid deeper attention to what my vision with DigiChefs was, I realized that it was quite hollow & probably that’s the reason I never felt the clarity in terms of the direction we were taking as a team. I realized that – a company’s growth is simply a manifestation of the vision of its founder. That’s when it clicked that I needed to sit down and bring clarity to my vision for the company and chart the roadmap for the next 5 years. The timing was perfect, with so much time in my hand, I could spend time with my most trusted teammates in identifying our current personality and what we wanted to be.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and DigiChefs in the future?
Deep Mehta: I picked up new activities along the way! I got sincerely involved in gardening. I am now a parent of about 40 different plants in my home garden. To me, it’s really meditative. To see them grow, nourish them, understand them and fix their problems. I also focused on my health & fitness, especially physical fitness. I keep a weekly target of 50K steps! I’d admit I don’t always meet the target, but I try to keep up!
As far as DigiChefs is concerned, the future is hugely optimistic and grand. We’re building new skill sets & capabilities that we didn’t have earlier, we’re hiring very smart talent, and we’re cracking some really good clients. We now have dedicated training problems, rewards programs for our chefs, strong sales processes & efficient tools to smoothen operations. I want to keep this run rate going, and keep building an environment of growth for both – my clients & my talent.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Deep Mehta: Since we’re a very boutique agency ourselves, our competition varies from a large 300+ team member agency to a group of freelance consultants. If I were to still name a couple of my competitors, I’d say Schbang & Kinnect are doing some really good work out there. We’re doing a great deal of work to constantly outdo ourselves and our competitors, in the pursuit to become better versions of ourselves; and we’re confident that we will be one of the most preferred agencies in Mumbai for clients globally in times to come.
Your final thoughts?
Deep Mehta: You’re capable of much more than what you believe you can do. Just trust your gut, and go do what you wish to. Nothing in the world can stop good from coming to those who give their best at what they do.
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