Thursday, February 22, 2024

Meet Shonell Thakkar: A Great Digital Marketer with a Great Journey!

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Today, in this world, where almost everything is going online, marketing has stepped forward in the form of ‘digital marketing.’ It is a great industry to explore, to learn and to earn money. Apart from this, it is very interesting to know about brands and their stories. It is a platform that allows you to explore various paths of marketing online.

So, today we have a woman entrepreneur, who has a very well-established business in digital marketing and to her, the sky is the limit. Meet a digital marketing expert who has successfully settled herself into the digital world of Marketing. Shonell Thakkar has always been curious about marketing and has a very great history of her career. Let’s go through a little part of her Digital marketing journey and get inspired.

Shonell discusses about her interests and her journey

I have always been unknowingly a marketer. I was specifically attracted to brand stories. But back then, I never really thought that it would be my profession. As I grew up, I had a few series of events. At first, I was a marketing executive for DNA. It was quite literally the ground work. It might sound fancy as a name, but we would literally go out and ask people for their opinions on what would they would like in the newspaper. It was a global campaign and was quite popular. Now when I look back, I find it a very well-planned ecosystem. From there I further studied MBA in media and entertainment. Passed out of Manipal and whistling woods. From there I worked with Amir Khan Productions, Disney, Fox, and Sony. Did various roles like distribution marketing in terms of the partnership, and some parts of PR as well, and handled a lot of events. Like a decade ago, the internet was just coming, Facebook has just started and this was not the time when business pages had started, it was just a social media network, so I just loved the idea of digital. So I was always trying to incorporate some parts of digital into what I used to do in my work. Also, did a lot of freelancing in between and with my business partners, 8 years ago, ‘Diquery Digital’ launched as a digital marketing company and this is how I started my profession doing what I love.

What is Diquery? What does it exactly do?

It is an end to end digital marketing agency. We started off it with 2, and now we are a team of 40. One of the primary reasons why Di-query came into existence is shown in its name which is ‘Digital Query’. At Diquery, our goal is to create concepts that are easily understandable for everyone. I work closely with the team and the business, but my main focus is on educating people about what we do and guiding them toward a result-driven understanding of the digital world. One of the toughest obstacles I’ve faced is convincing people that simple is often better. People tend to be drawn to flashy marketing techniques without fully understanding the benefits they’re giving up by choosing a simpler solution.

I have always been intrigued by brands and their stories. I was fortunate enough to be present at the cusp of the transition from traditional to digital media. About 8 years ago, the opportunity to pivot into entrepreneurship within the digital space presented itself and here we are! I love that we play a key role in the brand’s presence in the digital ecosystem. Over the years we have grown from a team of 2 in one corner of the city to a team of 40+ and a global presence. Over the years we have been underestimated as a small company but we wear the badge of a boutique agency proudly.

What was the turning point of the business? When did the business start shooting up?

– The turning point in terms of accomplishments, we signed Yahoo as a client within the first six months of the company’s existence, and they have remained with us ever since. We recently entered NFT and Metaverse, which is a huge milestone. One of our most important projects is that one. Because becoming an entrepreneur needs a lot of patience, my motivation has been the great support I’ve had from my staff, business partners, and family. Our business was like a plant. We used to water it every day and suddenly we saw that it had grown up a lot one day. Sometimes, it feels very overwhelming, as you have worked for it.  

How did you enter NFT and Metaverse?

While entering Web3 ecosystem, we knew it is a larger industry. Web3 is the next internet transition. Cryptocurrency conversation was around for the longest time. As anything gets buzzier, brands have to step into that. Nike and Adidas started to step in and we realized it won’t be too long before Indian Ecosystem to catch the way. This was exactly during the time of the lockdown. Brands were constantly looking for marketing remotely and it turned out to be a blessing for us. From the industry point of view, it helped a lot. We tried to work with a couple of projects to figure out what is the NFT ecosystem. Later, we got a chance to go on board with an Indian-Singapore brand which was starting their NFT projects. They used to procure NFT’s from artists and display it on their e-commerce platform. Later, we got a few movie projects called Vikram- a Kamal Hassan Film. It was a completely interesting and different project. We also marketed their experience. They had created a virtual space. It was a new thing for me as a marketer.

‘Many times you will get content to market that you can’t believe’.

Later we tied up with BookMyShow and sold tickets of NFT and stuff on telegram and gave codes. The two new fields were very new and very beneficial as well. And that’s where we stepped into Metaverse and NFT.

How is your experience being a Women Entrepreneur?

To be honest I did not think anything about my gender. I did not see my gender as an advantage or a disadvantage in any working ecosystem at any point. As I have worked since I was very little, it was very easy to ignore the fact that there is any women entrepreneurship involved. Definitely, some things are easier for us. We get more screen time with people. People love talking to us. It is also a disadvantage because they just want to keep on talking. Asking for a meet was usually the thing as the just want your company and it is just a companionship and friendly behaviour. In my current ecosystem, I am the only women CEO. Sometimes I can find my way if I choose to.

Yes, it is surely going to be! AI is what human intelligence has been upto now, and it will learning only that much. It is exciting information that has been recycled. In it, a lot of human intervention will be required.

‘ChatGPT is great for prompting ideas.’

It is a great marketing tool for sure. It is a great content-generating tool. There are a lot of articles being written on AI. It is also a great marketing tool that has a lot of ideas.

‘ChatGPT or any other AI tool is a great support system to have around us.’

What suggestion would you like to give to future generations about a career in Digital-Marketing?

My suggestion is that we should not blindly get into digital marketing as it is the thing everyone is getting into that. If you are really passionate about brands and brand stories, then only you should do it. If you are not, no matter how many platform you learn, no matter how much they promote themselves as a quick fix, or money-making machine, it’s not going to help. Your core needs to be really strong before you get into any industry. Blindly learning games and whatever you are doing, if you want to earn money, you can do it even playing games. If you are choosing profession, it has to be a very thoughtful decision of why you want to go where you are going.

How important is the role of mentors when it comes to guiding budding entrepreneurs?

Option 1– For aspiring entrepreneurs to succeed and develop, mentoring is essential. A mentor may help entrepreneurs avoid mistakes, make wise decisions, and accomplish their goals more quickly and effectively by offering their experience, knowledge, and support. A mentor can also provide valuable networks and contacts that can open up new opportunities and support business success.

Option 2:- If you plan to start a business, treat it as if it were a family member. I’ve seen a lot of women entrepreneurs give up on their dreams because either they were unable to ask for funds, were unable to garner the support and respect they needed from their own families, or were unable to prioritize their business. Don’t be discouraged by what you see outside. Finally, don’t be hesitant to experiment with new ideas

Is there anything that we can change to develop or give a boost to the startup ecosystem?

Here are a few components that, in my opinion, are important:-

  1. Talent Pool: The talent pool that is accessible to startups can be improved by attracting and keeping qualified workers as well as by offering education and training programs.
  2. Creating an atmosphere that promotes networking, collaboration, and partnership between new firms, financiers, and established corporations.
  3. Regulatory Environment: Simplifying rules, cutting red tape, and enhancing the legal system can make it easier for startups to create and expand their businesses.
  4. Government Support: Governments can help startups by offering them funding, tax breaks, and infrastructure support.
  5. Access to Funding: Startups can get the money they need by using platforms for crowdfunding, angel investor networks, and venture capital investments.
  6. Mentorship, education, workspace, and other resources are offered by incubators and accelerators to assist entrepreneurs test their hypotheses, assemble their teams, and market their goods.

What do you think is the future of the startup culture globally?

Future growth and expansion of startup cultures around the world are likely to be fueled by technological breakthroughs and easier access to finance and resources. It seems expected that the trend toward entrepreneurship and innovation will continue, with a focus on locating fresh answers to major problems in sectors like sustainability, healthcare, and finance. In addition, there might be a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the startup sector, as well as a growing understanding of the role that entrepreneurs can play in generating job opportunities and promoting economic growth.

We are sure her thoughts and her journey have inspired you to do what you really wish and dream to do and it is obvious that you will surely succeed if you have relevant interests. She, today is being a mentor to her interns and a teacher to the freshers who are trying to learn and explore such a wide field of digital marketing.

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