“I Was Called A Genius And A Moron, Several Times… … The Last Time When I Was Called A Genius, I Sold Off My Company.”
In an interview with BW Businessworld, Vivek Bhargava, Chief Executive Officer, DAN Performance Group, explained how he evolved his business over the years
Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das
Vivek Bhargava is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Mumbai Chapter, and is the Chief Executive Officer of DAN Performance Group, which he heads up, and is responsible for, all of the digital-performance agencies of Dentsu Aegis Network. An early frontrunner in the digital revolution in India, Vivek believes that “digital” is much more than a mere marketing medium, playing the role of a catalyst and multiplier across every aspect of business. He consults an impressive roster of clients and advises them on the most effective digital strategies for their brands.
Prior to this, Bhargava was the CEO at iProspect India, a part of the Dentsu Aegis Network. He founded Communicate 2 in 1997 when digital advertising was in its nascent stage. Following the merger in 2012 with Dentsu Aegis Network’s iProspect, the global leader in search and performance marketing, Communicate 2 was called iProspect Communicate2. The company was rebranded as iProspect India at the end of 2015. Vivek has been awarded for his invaluable contribution to the digital-marketing fraternity on several occasions. A couple of his coveted recognitions included being named “Marketer of the Year” and one of the top 50
digital icons of India. Talking to BW Businessworld’s Roy Varghese, he explained how he evolved his business over the years.
BW: How did you manage to think about digital media two decades ago, and how did this journey begin?
I come from a Mumbai-based business family. It all started after a talk with my father during an exhibition in the U.S. He asked me if I wanted to join the family business or start my own entrepreneurship venture. He told me that it is easy to sit on a moving vehicle, rather than driving the vehicle yourself. Since I was fascinated about the computers and the Internet right from my childhood, I took up the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur and started Communicate 2 in 1997.
BW: How has your entrepreneurial journey been to date, and what is your billing size today?
I have seen ups and downs in the business. I was called a genius and a moron many times in past two decades. The last time I was called a genius, I sold my company. In 2001, when the dotcom bubble busted, I went bankrupt and was called a moron. Then again in 2008-2009, during the world economic slowdown, I burnt my fingers again. It was in 2012 that I was called a genius again, and that’s the time I decided to sell off the company. In fact, I made great money after selling the company, and our growth is 1,500 percent, with billings around Rs 500 crores today.
BW: Can you explain a bit about the Indian digital market? Has it matured now?
Over the past two years, the Indian market has certainly matured. Today, digital is an integral part of any organization, and over the next five years, the market demand will be huge.
BW: Which sectors are contributing to the digital growth story?
Earlier, it was the banking and the financial sector, which contributed to about 80 percent of our revenues. Today, about 40 percent comes from the banking and financial sector; 40 percent from the travel and ecommerce sector; and the remaining is a mix of various sectors. This shows the maturity of the market, and all sectors of the economy are now adopting digital marketing.
BW: What are your business specialisations?
We are into anything and everything that has to do with the digital space, including social media management, analytics, pay-per-click, search engine optimisation, mobile marketing, search engine marketing, online reputation management, digital outsourcing, video content creation, application development, mobile advertising, etc.
Having years of experience in the field of search engine marketing, we have seen it all and delivered an impeccable ROI every time. Since the time of our inception, we have faced some of the toughest challenges and tasks, and lived up to client expectations most of the time.”
BW: How important is technological innovation in the digital space?
Technology plays a pivotal role in digital segment. Constant innovation is a must in solving the problems of clients. If you fail in that, you are not fit to be in the industry.
BW: How excited are you in your new role?
Acquisitions in India and abroad are a top priority. I have to play a strategic role in the network, and there will be a lot of clarity over the next six-month period.”
BW: How has the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) helped you excel in your life and career?
EO has made a very important impact in my life. An entrepreneur’s life is, for the most part, a very lonely one. Only an entrepreneur will understand why another counterpart is spending more time in the business. EO’s forum platform, specifically, helped me to share and learn from others. Moreover, the good knowledge we get through events, talks and networking is tremendous. EO is the only organisation I know that is exclusively for entrepreneurs.