Take a Leaf out of ProLearner Sandeep Rathod’s Book!
By Aditi Bhat
We were recently in a conversation with Sandeep Rathod, the young and driven founder of The Book Summary House, a subscription-free book summary website. Sandeep also recently finished his digital marketing course with ProLearn to learn the ins-and-outs of marketing. So what motivated Sandeep to launch his own start-up while having a full-time job? Let’s find out from the man himself:
Manipal ProLearn: How did The Book Summary House come into existence? Is it something you always wanted to do? Tell us your start-up story.
Sandeep: I have always been passionate about starting my own company. Last year I graduated as a marketing major. I had a lot of ideas while I was in college, but I would spend most of my time stressing over them in lieu of making them perfect. And while doing so, I would lose interest and drop them. This happened until I met a person smarter than me who told me that, “Idea is 10%, Execution is 90%”. That is when I decided to stick to the idea of making a book summary website and focussed on executing it.
Let’s rewind to how the idea of creating The Book Summary House struck me. I was a regular at the local library to rent books. Once during an interaction with the librarian, he told me about his worry of people missing out on valuable insights and knowledge just because they didn’t have enough time to read or were not habituated to reading books.
Somehow his fear stayed with me and I started researching on the subject. I found out that there were several websites offering book summaries, but most of them were all subscription-based. That’s when I decided to launch a free book summary website because I did not want knowledge to be hindered by finances.
Manipal ProLearn: Running a business is certainly not a cakewalk. Were there any moments when you felt like giving up? How did you overcome those hurdles?
Sandeep: I started working on The Book Summary House three months back. The first two months were dedicated to developing the website. Since I also work simultaneously with a UK-based publishing company, I wouldn’t get enough time to work on the website.
Book Summary House is my passion. So I would go meet the developers personally during weekends to have in depth discussions about subtle changes in design. Also, most of the summaries have been written by avid readers and freelance content writers.
Since I was the only person working on the website, I alone had to coordinate with around 15 freelancers simultaneously. It was a challenging phase since I was working continuously throughout the week (keeping aside my regular job) on both developing the website and getting content for it. Although it was difficult, I never felt like giving up since I had to bring my entrepreneurial venture to life.
Manipal ProLearn: How did Manipal ProLearn’s Digital Marketing Program help you in your endeavour?
Sandeep: It is difficult for businesses to thrive and even survive without an online presence. Digital marketing is the most basic and important requirement of starting an online business. Manipal ProLearn’s digital marketing program not only taught me about marketing a website through its live project of AdWords and SEO, but also gave me an overview of developing a website. It has played a crucial role in helping me start this website. I would especially like to mention Pranav sir, faculty of the course; he still helps us with everything related to digital marketing even though we completed the course six months back. I doubt such kind of support is extended by other similar providers.
Manipal ProLearn: What made you take up a course with Manipal ProLearn?
Sandeep: Like I mentioned earlier, I always wanted to start and run my own company. I have had wonderful ideas in the past but didn't know how to execute them. I found out about Manipal ProLearn’s digital marketing course and being a reputed industry name, I was sure that it would give me in-depth knowledge about the different facets of the digital world. And with the help of this knowledge, I would be able to pen down my idea, right from building the website to marketing and monetizing it, and ultimately fulfilling my goal.
Manipal ProLearn: You are also simultaneously handling marketing for another company. What is the one challenge that you feel is commonly faced by marketing professionals and how can they overcome it?
Sandeep: I think the increasing diversity of the target audience is a problem that most marketers face. In today’s time, the behaviour of the consumer changes rapidly due to the internet and social media. It is important to have a clear understanding of the target audience since all the marketing communication and strategies are based on it. So we, marketers need to spend little more time on research to have a better idea of our current and future customers. Instead of spending loads of time and money on big campaigns, we should focus on running small, but multiple campaigns to attract and cater to the changing needs and behaviour of the target audience.
Manipal ProLearn: Your enterprise promotes the habit of reading books, which emphasizes on the fact that individuals need to keep on honing their skills and stay updated with changing market trends. This is also the motto of Manipal ProLearn, which promotes the idea of investing in yourself. How vital do you think it is in today’s world to keep on upgrading your skills?
Sandeep: It is important to keep on learning new things, especially in this day and age where competition is unavoidable. With the increase in internet access, it has become possible to read and develop an in-depth understanding of any topic at any time. The market today is dynamic. What was worthless yesterday may be highly valuable today. The best example of this is Bitcoin.
So it is important for both digital marketing professionals and companies to keep an eye on the current trends and accordingly hone their skills to stay relevant.
Manipal ProLearn: Talking about constantly honing your skills, which skill do you think is most important in today’s corporate world?
Sandeep: I believe having amazing interpersonal skills is crucial for a successful career. Until few years back, our roles as professionals were predefined and restricted to our field, which is clearly not the case anymore.
Today, an employee working in one department has to coordinate with employees from multiple other departments and even with those of other companies (outsourcing tie-ups). This is where having good interpersonal skills work wonders. They help in forming and maintaining good relationships, negotiating, understanding the role of others and their viewpoints. Ultimately, it will help you swiftly climb the ladder of success.
Manipal ProLearn: You clearly have a demanding job. How do you manage to strike a balance between your personal and professional life?
Sandeep: The one word answer is ‘Passion’. If you are passionate enough about something, no problem – be it big or small, personal or professional, will ever stop you. I agree it is difficult for entrepreneurs to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives, but the key here is prioritizing. Be clear about your priorities and act accordingly.
Manipal ProLearn: Lastly, one advice you would want to give to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Sandeep: Like I mentioned in the beginning, “Idea is 10%, Execution is 90%. So focus more on execution rather than the idea. Do not spend time in making the idea perfect. You will learn a lot more while executing, which will help you improve your idea.
Keep learning. Take up online courses. Read. Connect with leaders in your industry. Seek their advice about complex problems. Also, there will be days when you will feel stuck. You might feel that are you heading nowhere. Stay perseverant. It is the key to success. The most important lesson that entrepreneurship teaches you is perseverance. Stay strong, I promise you will sail through all the mighty waves of challenges. Good luck!
On that motivating note, we extend our best wishes to Sandeep for his future!