30 Under 30: How Inkxpert CEO Akhilesh Panigrahi became a millionaire

Talk us through your story – how you started, your journey so far, etc.

A: The idea to build Inkxpert started when I was freelancing as a content marketing consultant during my MBA days at Symbiosis International University in 2018. I decided to form a team of 5 such consultants who were currently working with top IT and Consulting firms so that they could support my clients individually. Back then, we had just 2-3 clients. Gradually, we grew to a team of 20 consultants with each assigned a startup to support them with content marketing requirements.

Tell us a bit about the set-up, functioning and more.

A: We all have our full-time jobs with each having an experience of 5-8 years into technical writing. Each client is assigned a dedidated resource who has relevant experience in the service/industry domain of the client so that it’s a perfect match for understanding the requirements better and delivering the exact outcome as expected.

What are your most loved products and why?

A: The products I admire the most are in the technological space, namely marketing automation tools by Salesforce and Adobe.

What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

A: During the initial days when we were not well-known in the industry, it was difficult to convince our clients as our selling point was – save costs on in-house hiring as we provide you a highly experienced resource at half the salary cost. Our prospective clients were sceptical, but some believed in it which worked as a proof-of-concept for others.

What is the key message you want your brand to give out?

A: Our key message would be, in a post COVID era when all of us are encouraged to work remotely, companies should look at saving in-house hiring costs and focus on dedicated freelance resources while we adopt the new culture.

What do you think people are looking for today from a home-grown brand such as yours?

A: From a home-grown brand like ours, people are looking for expertise, efficiency and affordability to encourage the thriving Indian startup community.

What are your plans of growth?

A: We are planning to expand our team to 100 consultants by March 2021, and support 100 clients simultaneously.

Who are your competitors and how do you plan to outpace them?

A: Our major competitors are Lexicon, Facilius, Spacebar and a slew of other content marketing firms. The difference between them and us is ‘transparency’. They don’t allow clients to coordinate directly with the writers, which is completely opposite in our case. We allow more coordination between the consultant and the client for building a sturdy relationship and delivering the expected outcomes.

What is your advice to upcoming entrepreneurs?

A: Take the risk to start something on your own. Even if you fail, you learn. You just have to be right one time, then you are set for life.

What is your revenue model?

A: We have subscription based revenue model. Our current valuation of the company is pegged at INR 10 crores.

How did you raise funding? If any.

A: Not yet. But I am open for it with investors sharing the same passion.

Achievement in his past work experience.

A: As far as corporate experience is concerned, I have worked with IBM, LinkedIn and American Express. I left AMEX to start Inkxpert.

How the idea (of setting up Inkxpert) came into your mind – plan & execution of idea?

A: Already explained in first question.

Qualification – University?

A: MBA – Symbiosis International University, Pune

Hobbies, Interest?

A: Reading and Writing. Author of the book – ‘ Story Shots Poetry Pints’