SEED TO SCALE Podcast Series by Accel

INSIGHTS #32 — Divyank Turakhia on building one of the largest online advertising business

Episode Summary

In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Divyank Turakhia, Founder of online advertising business Media.net, speaks about why entrepreneurs should focus on the right things, keep risks in mind, and must always be nimble. We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have with us Divyank Turakhia, Founder of Media.net, one of the largest online advertising businesses worldwide, which he bootstrapped till he eventually sold it in 2016 for $900 million. Divyank starts off by talking about his early days growing up in a small apartment in Mumbai, and how he started reading his dad’s collection of books at the age of five. This love for reading is something he attributes his success to.“I spend somewhere between 800 to 1,000 hours a year reading, and I’ve done that for the last 20–30 years of my life”, he says. The learning goals became more specific as he progressed along his entrepreneurial journey, but even today, you’ll find him trying to get every bit of information possible on a topic that is relevant to a business problem he’s solving. On being asked how he went about picking ideas for his startups, Divyank stresses on how it was never about coming up with a truly original ideafor him, but about coming up with a large space to focus on. Being a techie, Divyank was looking for a large industry that had something to do with the internet: ecommerce and online advertisingwere the most obvious businesses that came to mind. He went ahead with online advertising as it was closer to his domain experience (the fact that he didn’t know much about logistics, which was at the heart of ecommerce also influenced the decision). He started with the niche space of domain advertising, leveraging his knowledge on domain names from his previous startup, as well as the relationships he had built. As he expanded from domain advertising to mainstream online advertisingat Media.net, he made sure he used the same strategy: owning a nichebefore moving to the mainstream part of the online advertising industry. “If I directly started competing with the giants on day one, I would obviously fail because I don’t have the same resources in any form. The idea was to pick a nichethat some of the giants were not paying as much attention to, so that once you grow in it, you know enough,” Divyank says. Sharing tips for young entrepreneurs, Divyank talks about the importance of keeping an eye out for the risks that the business faces. “As you build a business, you need to keep thinking about what are the top 10–20 risks that exist in your businessthat could wipe you out entirely and have a very rough plan to tackle them.” He adds that having success metrics and measuring them on an ongoing basishelps prioritise efforts and resources on the most important problems. Talking about dealing with failures, Divyank mentions how he keeps working on the problemuntil he’s solved it. That said, he urges entrepreneurs to reprioritise when needed. “Whenever you come across something that is more meaningful and that deserves your time and the time of your team a lot more because it’s a larger opportunity, you need to have that nimblenessand you need to be okay to let go off certain things that you’ve been working on. The industry changes all the time, events happen all the time, the marketplace changes all the time, needs change all the time, newer tech comes in. You need to benimble to change and constantly change.” Towards the end of the podcast, Divyank urges entrepreneurs not to fuss about market timing. “There’s no such thing as perfect timing. All timing is perfect. The more important thing is to get started.” Tune in to listen to Divyank share his views about startups, growing them, and the need to be willing to change.

Episode Notes

In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Divyank Turakhia, Founder of online advertising business Media.net, speaks about why entrepreneurs should focus on the right things, keep risks in mind, and must always be nimble.

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have with us Divyank Turakhia, Founder of Media.net, one of the largest online advertising businesses worldwide, which he bootstrapped till he eventually sold it in 2016 for $900 million.

Divyank starts off by talking about his early days growing up in a small apartment in Mumbai, and how he started reading his dad’s collection of books at the age of five. This love for reading is something he attributes his success to.“I spend somewhere between 800 to 1,000 hours a year reading, and I’ve done that for the last 20–30 years of my life”, he says. The learning goals became more specific as he progressed along his entrepreneurial journey, but even today, you’ll find him trying to get every bit of information possible on a topic that is relevant to a business problem he’s solving.

On being asked how he went about picking ideas for his startups, Divyank stresses on how it was never about coming up with a truly original ideafor him, but about coming up with a large space to focus on.

Being a techie, Divyank was looking for a large industry that had something to do with the internet: ecommerce and online advertisingwere the most obvious businesses that came to mind. He went ahead with online advertising as it was closer to his domain experience (the fact that he didn’t know much about logistics, which was at the heart of ecommerce also influenced the decision). He started with the niche space of domain advertising, leveraging his knowledge on domain names from his previous startup, as well as the relationships he had built. As he expanded from domain advertising to mainstream online advertisingat Media.net, he made sure he used the same strategy: owning a nichebefore moving to the mainstream part of the online advertising industry.

“If I directly started competing with the giants on day one, I would obviously fail because I don’t have the same resources in any form. The idea was to pick a nichethat some of the giants were not paying as much attention to, so that once you grow in it, you know enough,” Divyank says.

Sharing tips for young entrepreneurs, Divyank talks about the importance of keeping an eye out for the risks that the business faces. “As you build a business, you need to keep thinking about what are the top 10–20 risks that exist in your businessthat could wipe you out entirely and have a very rough plan to tackle them.”

He adds that having success metrics and measuring them on an ongoing basishelps prioritise efforts and resources on the most important problems.

Talking about dealing with failures, Divyank mentions how he keeps working on the problemuntil he’s solved it. That said, he urges entrepreneurs to reprioritise when needed. “Whenever you come across something that is more meaningful and that deserves your time and the time of your team a lot more because it’s a larger opportunity, you need to have that nimblenessand you need to be okay to let go off certain things that you’ve been working on. The industry changes all the time, events happen all the time, the marketplace changes all the time, needs change all the time, newer tech comes in. You need to benimble to change and constantly change.”

Towards the end of the podcast, Divyank urges entrepreneurs not to fuss about market timing. “There’s no such thing as perfect timing. All timing is perfect. The more important thing is to get started.”

Tune in to listen to Divyank share his views about startups, growing them, and the need to be willing to change.