Vijay Konda isn’t your usual startup founder. He neither has a background with startups, nor does he come from a top management or engineering institute.
Vijay hails from a family that has, for generations, been into agriculture. But in 2014, he started Dallas-based digital marketing startup CloudMellow to offer a suite of solutions, including website design and development, search engine marketing, brand development, social media marketing, ecommerce development, and reputation management.
This January, CloudMellow acquired Florida-based digital marketing agency Media Mix, formerly known as SharedLABS.
The early days
A computer science and engineering graduate from Anna University, Chennai, Vijay did his post-graduation in Dallas, Texas, in 2013.
“I used to have brainstorming sessions with like-minded friends and colleagues keen to start a technology services company. Attending startup networking events became a weekend habit, and during this time, someone reached out to me to build a custom application for their company,” Vijay recalls.
At that point in time, he felt it was a great opportunity to start something and spent long hours with his friends to work out a proof of concept. But, unfortunately, the client turned down the project and moved it in-house.
But Vijay remained undeterred.
Sure that a need existed in the market, he started CloudMellow as a web development agency that built websites from leads received from his network of friends, and well wishers, one of who was Shreyans Jain. He went on to become co-founder of CloudMellow.
“I started the firm near my house with two computers and a two-person team, juggling between the US and Eluru, Andhra Pradesh,” he says.
Setting up CloudMellow
The team initially worked out of a garage-turned-office with infrastructure that cost less than Rs 30,000.
Soon, realising the importance of the digital space and how marketing and advertising were evolving, the startup transitioned from a web development company to a leading global digital marketing solutions provider.
The startup focuses on delivering digital marketing services, web development, and consulting/staffing solutions to businesses.
The founder claims that the team designs “robust solutions” to help companies meet “business objectives”, including boosting performance and effectiveness, generating sales, and reducing costs.
Today, CloudMellow is a team of 70+ employees and three regional offices in India in Eluru, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. They are delivering to a client base of 150+ in the US, India, Canada, Dubai, and UK with state-of-the-art infrastructure.
“Our strategy was always to be in a space that is scalable and competitive. We aim to understand and identify our clients’ needs and solve the problems they are facing,” Vijay says.
He claims the startup has notched up gross revenue of Rs 10 crore, and has a target of creating over 100 rural jobs in 2020, with a focus on Eluru.
“We have been recognised by Andhra Pradesh Government specifically for creating jobs in rural regions with delivery excellence,” he says.
The business and future
A Dentsu Aegis report says the digital advertising industry in India is set to be valued at Rs 19,000 crore by 2020, at a growth rate of 32 percent CAGR.
Vijay says web development companies are not new or innovative, as they have been around for the past 30 years. “But we have seen a need in the digital marketing space for technology competence within teams.”
CloudMellow refused to share names of clients, but Vijay says the startup has a client base in the US, Canada, and India, and is expanding to the UK and Australia.
The focus is on small and medium businesses and the enterprise client base, and the startup says it has clients in healthcare, hospitality, F&B, IT Services, retail, wholesale, education, security, products, and many more sectors.
“We engage with clients on a yearly basis. Service charges are relative and can start from as low as Rs 10,000 per month,” Vijay says.
CloudMellow isn’t the only startup operating in this space. Small companies like OnePage, Insomniacs, and larger agencies like Denstu and others are also vying for a share of the digital marketing pie.
Currently bootstrapped, CloudMellow is looking to scale up to 100 members in India, and focus more on strategic acquisitions and growing the business.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)