Pune based entrepreneur Aditya Bhelande started YuktaMedia in 2014 and specializes in the field of advertising technology. He formed YuktaMedia to address the operational challenges faced by publishers and agencies by using the power of automation and AI. Thereby reducing repetitive manual activities and processing data in real-time to drive data driven decision making.
What is the idea behind your startup? What is unique about your Startup? What lead to the formation?
I have been in advertising and marketing space for more than a decade now. As part of working with Yahoo! and PubMatic, I got a chance to work very closely with publishers and agencies from across the world. Very quickly I realized that most Ad Tech companies were focused on monetization of ad opportunities. Each company would come up with their secrete sauce. Hence, publishers and agencies started using a number of these Ad Tech companies to meet their respective goals. For publishers, it was maximizing revenue and for agencies it was maximizing reach and engagement. But at the same time from an ad and revenue operations perspective this spelled a nightmare. Ad & Revenue Ops teams now had to log into many of these systems provided by these new age Ad Tech partners to get the data, join it and make sense out of it. The amount and scale of data was so large that Ad & Revenue Ops teams simply could not use the traditional excel to get the most out of this data. All of this lead to publishers losing money and agencies / Brands not able to meet their engagement and ROI targets despite of spending a lot of money.
I formed YuktaMedia to address these operational challenges faced by publishers and agencies by using the power of automation and AI. Thereby reducing repetitive manual activities and processing data in real-time to drive data driven decision making. Today, YuktaMedia is one of the few startups to focus on operational needs of publishers and agencies.
We have built and deployed our YuktaOne platform which is being used by publishers and agencies in US, UAE and India.
Please tell us about the founders and core team members.
Core Team Members –
Responsible for all aspects of Finance & HR at YuktaMedia. Previous work experience includes Google, Deem and Trovix.
Skills: Tableau, Excel, HeidiSQL, Google Tag Assistant, Charles, etc.
Role: Digital Ad Operations and Campaign Manager. Work with Inventory Manager for inventory forecast and utilization. Prepare reports for sales team and campaign performance optimization. Testing tags on various devices and browsers.
Most Like at YuktaMedia: Responsibility to manage various things. Flexibility in taking decisions and taking initiative to do things.
Skills – PHP, Database, Java, Python
Your role at YuktaMedia – Sr. Software developer. API development and 3rd party API integrations. Backend design and architecture. Team management.
What you like the most about work here at YuktaMedia – Work environment, chance to learn new technology and teamwork.
Skills – Database, Python, Java, Client Interaction
Your role at YuktaMedia – Code for Database layer frameworks for smooth database operations, Database Management, Database design architecture, Understand the requirement of client and give them the output they need for their problems / business needs, coordinate with team to deliver the product in time.
What you like the most about work here at YuktaMedia – Learn new things every day, opportunities for new work, friendly environment, great team to work with.
Role: Full Stack Engineer working on YuktaOne platform front end and back end. Mentoring team with focus on end to end design and architecture.
Working at YuktaMedia: Good benefits and open work culture. Opportunities to work different technologies and various aspects of the platform and product.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? How are you trying to solve the problem? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem and your startup can solve the problem?
In a nutshell, we are trying to solve digital transformation problem for publishers and agencies by leveraging automated data aggregation and building AI based data applications on top of it.
To address the above vision of digital transformation of publishers’ and agencies business, we start with data aggregation first. YuktaOne is connected with over 80 different systems in the Advertising and Marketing vertical. For example, SSPs (PubMatic, Rubicon, Appnexus, AdX Seller, etc.), DSPs (MediaMath, The Trade Desk, DBM, etc.), Ad Servers (Google DFP, DFA, Revive, etc.), Social (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc), CRM (Salesforce.com, etc.), Email (MailChimp, etc.). These API integrations help YuktaOne collect information in real-time and process it for data driven decision making.
Once the data is collected and processed, YuktaOne has many AI based value added applications that leverage the collected data and enable publishers and agencies conduct their business. For example:
All of the above functions which are typically manually performed, time consuming and error prone are automated and presented to users in the form of individual mini applications (m-apps). Access to this data is managed by a robust roles and permissions based User Management app. These loosely coupled m-apps give publishers and agencies to adopt YuktaOne in the areas they need the most and then further automate other business activities.
Given the rapid growth of spend in digital advertising and consumption of digital content, it’s clear that most, mid to large sized publishers and agencies, among thousands, would be facing these challenges. Hence, it’s a large enough opportunity for YuktaMedia to address.
What are the major challenges you faced while launching the startup? What is the success story of your startup in your own words?
Trying to solve B2B enterprise problem where each of our customer’s requirements seem very custom was one of the biggest challenge. Being a small Startup our prospects didn’t believe the chronic operational challenges they had been facing for years. Even after a number of customers under our belt, we still face that challenge even today. The way we have addressed this by doing a ‘no-strings-attached-PoC’. PoC is a proof of concept, where we take in our perspective customer’s data and push it in our m-apps. This enables the prospects to get hands on feel of YuktaOne platform before they make purchasing decisions. The impact of this is that our sales cycles are long. But it’s better this way because it gives customers insights into how we work as a team, our commitment to customer’s success even before they make a buying decision and later they don’t have regrets for signing up with YuktaOne platform.
Another challenge we faced was customer location. Almost all of our customers have been based outside of India, in US and UAE. Convincing them that a small startup from India can solve real enterprise problem was difficult. But we have been able to overcome that challenge by the PoC approach mentioned above and extended support. We are also now setting up a team in US and UAE which would make customer acquisitions easier.
“We are trying to solve digital transformation problem for publishers and agencies by leveraging automated data aggregation and building AI based data applications on top of it.”
How has been the journey so far? How tough has been the competition?
The journey so far has been extremely crazy to say the least. But at the same time, it has been very rewarding and fulfilling. We have been able to put together a very skilled and dedicated team of about 20 people who are extremely focused on customer needs and quality product delivery. It has taken us almost 3 years to get to this point, but it has been worth it.
Our competition has received multi-million-dollars in funding and are based out of the US for the most part. They are closer to our potential customers which makes it easy for them sign up new customers. At this point we are the classic bootstrapped Indian underdog company who is trying to carve out its own space in the industry. We are more focused on customers’ needs and don’t focus too much on what the competition is trying to do. Each business is run in its own ways and has its own growth strategy. We all learn from each other. Having said that we are seeing more and more customers come to us abandoning our competition. I think the primary reason for this is that, we not only provide the platform but also help customers onboard and get up and running with it so that they can get maximum value of it.
Where do you want to see your startup 2 years from now?
In two years, we plan to become a dominant player as enterprise m-apps platform in the Digital Advertising and Marketing space with customers from all around the world. We are well on that track now given that we have customers in 3 continents and over 25 m-apps that cover a plethora of business applications for publishers and agencies. In order to exponentially grow the number of apps in the next 12 months we plan to strike strategic partnerships with top system integrators like TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Accenture, Deloitte and more. This will also help reach multi-million-dollar revenue goal that we have set for ourselves and falls in line with the long-term strategy of expanding to other verticals.
What is your plan or strategy to sustain in the long run?
In the long run, we want YuktaMedia to grow beyond its existing vertical of advertising and marketing. Hence the way we have built the platform is such that developers are easily able to build and connect m-apps using YuktaOne platform. A group of these connected m-apps can help solve business challenges of any given vertical. In order to have a large number of m-apps, we plan to have an ecosystem of developers who can rapidly build these out and sell them via the ecosystem. So, consider this like an improvised Salesforce / Android platform and ecosystem. Our vision is that Companies are able to subscribe to any of the m-apps that they find useful and are able to use them for their businesses. This way m-apps developers earn money and YuktaMedia also earns money through revenue share model. To make this vision successful, we will be raising Series A funding in the next few months.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing that entrepreneurs today don’t have is the luxury of time. Once the time is gone its gone. It’s the only real currency that you have. Hence, optimal utilization of time, is one of the keys to ensuring that entrepreneurs are successful. Especially since entrepreneurs have to focus on a gazillion things all the same time. In order to make optimal utilization of time entrepreneurs have to do brutal prioritization of tasks. Before they take up any task / activity, they need to evaluate very quickly if that task is the right thing to do now. If entrepreneurs don’t prioritize tasks correctly, then they will be busy but it won’t result in much and this will have negative impact on company’s growth. There are number of ways to hack prioritization problem. Keep a task list. Before starting a task ask Why you need to do it? Can it be delegated? etc. Over a period of time entrepreneurs who operate with this sense of awareness get better at this and get a lot more mph for very little rpm.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
In one word the strategy is ‘Customer Focus’. Customer Focus means understanding customer’s needs, their business, their context, etc. Without paranoid Customer Focus, a company won’t be able to identify the challenges that customers face and create usable solutions for them. It is because of this Customer Focus that today all our customers are 100% referenceable. We get most of our business via customer references (word of mouth). This strategy has also helped us stay ahead of our competition as we continued to add features to our platform that not only meet customer expectations but go above and beyond that. We ensure that our team understands not only technology but is also fully aware of the Advertising and Marketing industry and our customer’s business. Hence every member of the team is thinking about the impact of customer when they build and release newer platform version. This customer Focus also helps us in getting internal cross team alignment, there by delivering quality product on-time.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well to other startup entrepreneurs?
For communication, both internally and externally, with customers we use Skype and Slack. We have formed various project and customer specific groups which ensure that all the communication remains documented and everyone is on the same page.
For conferencing, we use uberconference a lot. This is one of the easiest tools to use. Doesn’t need folks to download any heavyweight apps on their desktop. They can easily join the conference. This is especially useful when talking to prospects and giving them demo.
For Project Management, we use JIRA and freedcamp. These tools allow us to track various tasks and prioritize them and allocate them to the right folks in our as well as customer’s team. We also perform historical analysis to identify recurring issues and tasks. Using this analysis, we further automate those tasks.
Any other information about your startup that you would like to share with us.
In 2017 YuktaMedia got selected for the Startup Super-Hero at Dmexco. There I had a speaking engagement where I was able to interact with industry leaders from Advertising space. With the current growth in the number of employees we plan to move to a larger office space in the next few months. In addition to that we plan to release ‘Data-As-A-Service’ (DaaS) offering for publishers and agencies who want to get their data from various systems that they use. This offering will also allow us to reach out to long tail publishers and Advertisers which we are not currently interacting with.
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