Hi there, I’m Sandeep Mallya, an entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant from Bangalore, India. I founded my own digital agency, Startup Cafe Digital, in 2015 where I help SMBs leverage social media, SEO, and content marketing to grow their traffic and generate qualified leads for their business.
If you aren’t bored of all the information overload you’re going to receive, here’s my short story.
After getting my MBA in 2009, I worked for the digital arms of two of the largest media publications in India in sales and marketing roles (I won’t name them here, but you can check my LinkedIn profile to see who they are). To call these jobs ‘soul-crushing’ would be a MASSIVE understatement.
I won’t go into detail because I hate complaining, but suffice it to say, my work experience convinced me that I was not cut out for the 9-5 job.
With everything that was bad about the job, there were a few positives as well. One of them was that I made solid connections. The second was that I was part of the biz-dev team for a revolutionary social media recruitment tool one of these companies had acquired. I was in charge of the core team that was responsible for pitching this new tool to the top 30 IT companies in Bangalore. This was back in 2011 when social media had low acceptance at a B2B level and companies were reluctant to create a LinkedIn business page, let alone a Facebook or Twitter page.
Launching My Digital Agency
This experience in social media marketing and biz-dev proved to be invaluable when I launched my digital agency in early 2015. I had been toying with the idea of starting my own social media marketing agency in 2014 and after one year of contemplation, I got my big break when one of my connections needed help managing social media accounts for his newly-launched online food delivery business in San Francisco. I quit my day job and began work as a part-time social media consultant, earning a decent monthly retainer fee.
At the same time, I began working as a freelancer and created a single page website to list down my social media marketing services. Soon, the website was flooded with requests and in August 2015, I took the big step of launching my own digital agency with an aim to help small businesses generate more qualified website traffic and conversions through social media. Soon, it evolved into a full-fledged digital marketing agency which offered inbound marketing services, including social media marketing, SEO, PPC, email marketing, web analytics, and content marketing.
I read several business books at the time of launching my business, but three of them gave me the confidence to embark on this exciting new adventure. They were:
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Since starting my agency, I’ve had the privilege of working with several early-stage startups in India, USA, and Singapore. Here are some of the brands I’ve worked with:
Startup Cafe Digital was featured among “Top 10 Marketing Agencies in India in 2016” by Silicon India Magazine and in 2018, my agency’s success story was covered by Entrepreneur Magazine.
99signals: An Ongoing Experiment of Trial and Error
I’m a big believer in Gary Vee’s “Document, Don’t Create!” philosophy, and this blog is basically a testament to that belief.
I started 99signals in 2016 as a side project to document all the strategies, tools, and tactics that I was using to grow my small agency. The goal was simple: to arm other online entrepreneurs and bloggers with all the right information they needed to launch a successful business. As you can imagine, the journey so far has involved a series of experiments and trying to understand what works and what doesn’t in the online marketing space. It’s an ongoing project and I’m excited to learn where it leads.
Since its launch, 99signals has grown significantly and generates over $5,000 in side income each month. Over the years, I’ve worked with brands like SEMrush, AppSumo, SendinBlue, ConvertKit, and partnered with several others.
The blog currently features 200+ in-depth articles, how-to guides, and hacks which reveal the secrets behind running a successful online business. My articles have been featured on several websites. Here’s a list of just a few:
In mid-2018, I launched my very own podcast, Marketing Mantra. In the podcast, I share techniques that have helped me scale up my blog and digital marketing agency. I also invite SEO experts and bloggers every so often to share their wisdom, insights, and success stories.
Past guests on the podcast have included SEO expert Matthew Woodward, Daniel Daines-Hutt from AmpMyContent, John Wall from Marketing Over Coffee Podcast, Alexandria Tachalova from Digital Olympus, and Ish Jindal from TARS Chatbots. You can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other major podcast player.
If you’ve made it this far, I thank you for reading my short origin story.