Disappointed by the limited and inoperable local marketing solutions, Synup was incorporated in 2013. Synup tracks hundreds of thousands of business profiles and monitors millions of interactions to automated marketing for businesses and insights hard to obtain otherwise.
The SaaS solution uses the data that allows small businesses, marketers as well as brands to ensure the right information is shown to consumers every time they search for their business. Synup raised over $6 million in funding and has been successfully able to power 150,000+ locations across North America.
We had the opportunity to connect with Ashwin Ramesh, founder and CEO of Synup who shares his journey as an entrepreneur and how he led Synup to success.
1. What was the inspiration behind the inception of Synup?
When I think of inspiration, it has to be a combination of personal experiences as well as general observation. Personally, I remember looking for “near me cafes” options on Google and then found out the data provided is completely incorrect.
This was a consistent problem, which many businesses in India (small or big) have never paid enough attention to. A lot of local businesses had listed data which were obsolete and have never been updated. One of my very close friends had to face one such instance, and that too with a hospital. During an emergency when he searched for the hospital’s contact, the number listed was invalid. Businesses having inaccurate information online, is what inspired me to start Synup. As I feel in today’s time where everyone is depended on the information available on the internet, inaccurate data is not making a business look bad but is causing a lot of inconvenience to the users.
Local businesses need to ensure that their location data is accurate everywhere; we know it’s a challenge to manage profiles across sites like Google, Yelp, Bing, Apple etc. There was no consistent way to do this. Therefore, I wanted Synup to solve this problem by providing a single interface to manage location data, gather customer insights via reviews and also use analytics to understand what’s working and what’s not.
2. Could you brief us about how your business model works?
Our SaaS solution enables small businesses, marketers and brands to manage their location intelligence to ensure that consumers find the right information about them on the web, mobile and voice search.
3. Which key strategy you keep in mind and share your success mantra?
There is no success ‘mantra’ as such, but we always aim to provide the best solution for our customers. We want to keep up with the technology trends, etc. and keep evolving to ensure our customers are equipped with all the latest trends.
4. Since you started off with your entrepreneurial journey at a very young age, what inspired you to found your own company?
Back in the days of dial-up internet connections when I was around 14 years old, we used to visit many chat rooms. It was in one such chat room, the admin asked me if I would like to earn some money. All I had to do is click on proxy websites so that their ratings would increase. Though I completed the task, but couldn’t get the money as I didn’t have a personal account back then. But that’s when the entrepreneur bug bit me, as I thought sitting at home and earning money was easy and something I could do.
I had no interest to go to school, but my parents convinced me to stay in school, but I continued exploring opportunities on the side. It got overwhelming with time, and I roped in a few friends to work with me, and also managed to convince one of my relatives to use his godown as the new “workspace”. Eventually, I started OrganicApex, a specialised digital marketing firm. We were doing most of our work manually back then, and I wanted to find ways to automate my business, and that triggered me to start my next venture.
I moved to Bangalore in 2013 and founded Synup, and launched the first product in February 2014. Rest is history!
5. Which countries and regions are you currently focusing on? Which other regions do you plan to expand your brand presence?
In the last three years, we have acquired 100,000+ locations across North America with a diverse clientele including restaurants, banks, home services and professional services. We launched our Freemium version – Synup Lite in India, Australia and New Zealand this year, and have plans to launch the premium version in these regions by this year. In the next 3 years, we plan to expand our reach to Europe and make our presence felt in newer sectors in the established markets.
6. “The industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick.” How does this fact affect your business?
The millennials as we all know are always connected digitally. They consume information on the go on their mobile devices. This is the reason why businesses having inaccurate information online, is a potential disadvantage and should be avoided at all costs because the millennials seldom leave a business website/store with an unbiased impression. Therefore, our product as a whole is about powering business intelligence, and to ensure the businesses a smooth online presence.
7. Share the biggest achievement of your company to date?
Our biggest achievement is that today we power 150,000+ locations across North America. We are prepared for our competition by many. And this makes us want to go that extra mile to ensure productivity for our customers. Also, last year we raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Vertex Ventures. Our existing investor Prime Venture Partners also returned for the round.
8. What is the scope of your industry?
There are approximately 650 million global local businesses. Digital growth is strongest in areas like search, mobile and digital services (SEM, websites, social media, programmatic, mobile, presence and reputation management), while it is at best flat in the core Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) product set.
9. What makes you different from your competitors?
We are the only player in this market with true automation. Especially, when it comes to being found on search, mobile, voice, social and navigation systems. This helps us to scale and serve enterprise audience better than our competitors. We are also the only player in the market to provide a true end-to-end white label solution for resellers. So, there are not really any competitors because we are the disrupters with the first-mover advantage.
10. Two suggestions for the aspiring entrepreneur and upcoming startups?
Firstly my sincere advice/suggestion is, don’t hesitate to take risks fearing failure. It’s seriously okay to fail and make blunders. Every successful person has faced some sort of failure in career or general life. Most of the Indian entrepreneurs I feel are held back by the societal pressure to win. So much so that they end up taking up the safest path by forgoing their dreams.
Secondly, learn to listen and be more patient. I have mastered the art of listening and reacting less. You can only succeed if you listen to your employees, peers and customers. As a business leader, being reactive makes your company and its culture extremely mediocre.