KonekTwa started its journey at Turbine after its participation in Turbine’s Test Drive 3 Programme. Adarsh Gujadhur shares with us his entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us about yourself
I was a student at St Mary’s College until HSC, where I studied Maths, Computer Studies and Physics. In 2012, after graduating from high school, I moved to Pune, India, to study Mechanical Engineering at Symbiosis International University (SIU). I am immensely grateful for my experience living in India for almost five years. It builds resilience, pushes a person’s boundaries and tests the limits of human capabilities living alone in a foreign country at 18. I highly recommend people who can have this experience.
After completing my degree (B.Tech Mechanical Engineering, I joined the Mauritian workforce in a contracting firm not far from Port Louis. I resented my life as an employee. I have never been the best at following orders; my lecturers can vouch for that, so I decided to open my dance classes and focus on choreography. This decision changed my whole life. It did not only open doors for me to prove myself in the field of arts and culture, but also in Marketing – having a consistent presence on Instagram helped me attract local brands as advertisers.
What is KonekTwa about?
Before explaining the origin of KonekTwa, allow me to explain what it does – KonekTwa is a platform where local brands looking for visibility on social media can find relevant influencers and work with them in more data-driven campaigns. We try our best to maintain authenticity in our campaigns by selecting suitable influencers who suit our brands/clients. We work with influencers who excel in their specific professions, know about their market, and deliver their specific communities’ expertise. For example, if a gardening supplies brand needs to promote their products/services on social media, KonekTwa will focus on providing the latter with influencers who educate their followers on precisely that – gardening and garden supplies. The world of micro-influencers is beginning. Now, we need to optimise its power in the most sustainable way possible.
I started this company for two significant reasons. Firstly, I was tired of working for free: As a full-time choreographer and dancer, I had many local brands approaching me to promote their outfits or venues. I used to gladly agree to it because, as a self-taught artist, we have this inherent problem of seeking validation from others. However, the problem extended more than that. See, I was never getting paid for my services. I would choreograph a whole dance, teach it to my students, find the right videographer and also upload the video on my Instagram – all for free or best-case scenario for goodies. It felt like actual exploitation, and many of my friends in the world of influencer marketing was struggling with the same problem – We were not getting paid for our services. The second problem was, I realised local brands still needed to learn how to implement influencers in their marketing strategy properly – influencer marketing is a tool that requires perpetual innovation, and many local brands did not know the right influencers for their products or how to execute a strategy in the most optimised way. Therefore, back in June 2019, I decided to create KonekTwa, hoping to alleviate both problems- Le travail gratuit des influenceurs et le manque d’innovation dans l’industrie de social media marketing a Maurice.
So far, I am immensely grateful for the response I have received from the local market. I have to say, starting off, I had set some milestones for the year, and despite the lockdown, I have managed to check all the milestones for the year 2020. I am grateful for the trust that my clients have had in KonekTwa. We work at developing or maintaining a brand’s social media identity. We at KonekTwa understand this is serious.
What are your main achievements so far?
The main achievements for the year 2020 have been to integrate influencer marketing in the digital marketing budgets of local companies from various fields.
It has been to validate my MVP in the local market and have a consistent income at the end of each month,
Another achievement I am so proud of is employing my first staff within all the legal norms of employment followed closely by Atax Business Advisors, and lastly, the achievement I am most proud of is having my entrepreneurial journey documented by CNN
What role did Turbine play in your growth?
Turbine has been a quintessential part of KonekTwa ever since its inception in late 2019. The Test Drive Competition taught me all of what I know about entrepreneurship. It also closely guided me through the weekly coaching sessions during my incubation period. Those coaching sessions on their own were priceless, but on top of it, the access to the co-working gave a sense of legitimacy to my company. I also have to add that we, as incubates of Turbine, have the opportunity to meet and learn from the best of what Mauritius has to offer through the workshops they conduct for us incubates.
What are some challenges you came across?
One of the biggest challenges that I think entrepreneurs and more prominent firms face is a lot to do with human resources and being a leader in the most empowering way possible. Making someone see the vision I created for my start-up and identifying their strengths and weaknesses and how they complement and add to the existing challenges KonekTwa faces.
Another challenge I faced was understanding my company’s finances – creating a cash flow, a balance sheet, a forecast, and dealing with VAT-related matters. Once again, I am grateful to our coaches at Turbine for helping me tremendously with those issues.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
There is this misconception that I often hear – If you want to follow your passion, become an entrepreneur. While it remains true, I also need to clarify and emphasise many other things required from an entrepreneur. There will be weeks, if not months, where you will find yourself not being able to do the thing you love and instead finish much work that is not necessarily exciting or in line with your passion.
There is also the matter of Product-Market Fit, which is so important. If the local market does not accept your product, there is no way to continue shoving your business into a place that it does not belong, and often, your initial vision for your company changes tremendously over time based on Product Market Fit, so always bear that in mind.
What are your plans for the next three years?
My goal for KonekTwa is to expand the company to cater to the local market’s growing demand. The only way to do so is to automate the operations so that no individual requires to do any redundant tasks. Having recruited my first employee of KonekTwa – Yannick Hyacinthe, this year. KonekTwa has seen an exponential rise in the number of clients actively working with us. Our short-term goal is to make our online platform 100% functional, and our long-term project, well, thanks to the acceleration program by Turbine that we will soon be joining, will be to scale up the business and penetrate a new market outside of Mauritius. The acceleration program gives us many services such as workshops with experts, training sessions with angel investors and venture capitals, and investment through Compass Venture Capital. KonekTwa’s long term goals can most definitely be achieved with the guidance and the structure the acceleration program brings.