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‘Think Big!’: Apaksh Gupta Talks About His Journey Of Building One Impression, One of The Most Successful Influencer Marketing Platform

Apaksh Gupta, an engineer-turned-entrepreneur, talks about building One Impression, one of the leading influencer marketing p
Apaksh Gupta, an engineer-turned-entrepreneur, talks about building One Impression, one of the leading influencer marketing platforms in India

Influencer marketing has emerged to become one of the most-used forms of advertising and promotion of brands in recent years. One Impression, founded by Apaksh Gupta, an alumnus of Punjab Engineering College, is amongst the pioneers that forayed into the realities of influencer marketing, at a time when the prospects of influencer marketing were being experimented upon.

Hailing from a tech background, Gupta started his entrepreneurial journey back in 2015 with co-founding Alternate Design, a boutique design agency for technology companies, and went ahead to co-found Summer Label, an in-house fashion brand that facilitates the discovery of local fashion lifestyle brands, news, and trends in 2016. The startup also accumulated a seed funding of $120k through Chandigarh investors, which helped him kickstart his business.

The Idea of One Impression

Gupta was working to build his platform, Summer Label when he started approaching agencies to reach out to influencers in the fashion and lifestyle niche. While discussing business possibilities with such influencer marketing agencies, he noticed a wide gap in the market and discovered that no one offered complete influencer marketing solutions.

One Impression Logo
One Impression Logo

Different agencies submitted a wide price gap, ranging from massive 5k to 50k, for the same influencer. Noticing the disparity in the market, Gupta started researching about the influencer market more and more, trying to gain a more in-depth insight into the flaws in the system, which led to the birth of One Impression, a platform offering ultimate Influencer Marketing solutions. Check their website here.

On First Clients

Apaksh emphasized the significance of networking and the role it played in shaping his entrepreneurial journey. He went around the country for startup events, conferences, and B2B meetings, where he built his extensive network. Gupta’s 2017 founded platform received its first business from startups like Kazo and HealthKart and is currently working with over 150+ brands.

While talking to TimesNest, he told us how invaluable One Impression’s advisors have been in fueling the business of the influencer marketing platform. According to Business Insider (1), One Impression is among the top-performing agencies in India in 2019 that grew at an incredible rate of 900% YoY.

Many companies and brands focus solely on Instagram business when it comes to influencer marketing, ignoring the power of influence held by every other social media platform. Instagram might work well for brands from one niche, and Tik Tok for brands with another niche.

Started From the Bottom Now They’re Here

Taking their baby steps, One Impression started building their influencer data using data science and started connecting with them using emails and DMs. Since the influencer industry was a somewhat untapped market during the initial days, the influencers received their messages well. Reaching out to the influencers with clear, crisp, and transparent messages helped immensely with the response.

One Impression Founders

Since there were no companies that had researched the market the right way, there was a big disparity in the market price of influencer services. Influencers needed to monetize their services, which led to the development of their early network. Subsequently, referrals played a massive role in growing their network. Any influencer can join One Impression by merely signing up on their platform. Depending on the niche, followers, engagement, etc., the influencers are then offered with the right campaigns and brand deals, ensuring campaign success. Today, the platform has connected with over 60k influencers and has built a global pool of over 14 million people.

On being asked on what made One Impression thrive in the cut-throat influencer marketing competition, Apaksh said,

“I got introduced with the right pitch & right channel which really played out. We got a good clarity on what we brought to the table [for influencers and brands].”

Paving Their Way In The Unchartered Territory of Influencer Marketing

Back in the days, influencer marketing was unchartered territory, with traditional marketing being an obvious hindrance in approaching the companies and brands. Initially, One Impression was more involved with startups as they had a more experimental attitude and leaned towards digital marketing due to budgetary restraints. At the stage, the influencer marketing agencies rendered that bringing companies like ITC on-board was a big task in itself.

The platform even worked with big startups that entertained bigger packages that went up to 1 million. Seeing the ROI and excellent results, many of their clients returned with more business, which encouraged larger companies to come on board, witnessing their potential and services, with packages going up to 2 crores.

Apaksh also mentioned that influencer marketing was a highly network-based industry, and building quality relations with the right influencers always helped in expanding their reach. Some of the biggest challenges in the influencer industry are reaching out to international and celebrity influencers, who do not usually entertain agencies.

The University Express Acquisition by One Impression

In 2018, One Impression acquired the youth-focused media venture University Express for an undisclosed amount. Holding substantial investments and revenue at their hand, One Impression didn’t waste time procuring University Express, which had a strong student network and helped them bring in many influencers and enlarge their user base. The platform used UE to organize student campaigns, which drew both influencers and companies. Multiple companies came in with one idea but ended up using other services like a celebrity and international brand campaigns.

On Challenges

The one thing that made One Impression stronger than anyone around was their problem-solving attitude. Apaksh told us that they never looked at a problem like a roadblock and took them head-on, with a constant focus on delivering innovative solutions.

The company had a hard time sorting the pricing but was thankful to be guided well by its investors and mentors. Building the right pricing packages was essential as that allowed the business to generate profit while working with brands and influencers. Gupta stressed on the importance of convincing the brands of the value you bring through your services, without creating any confusion through the pricing model.

Gupta said that startups usually don’t make money initially because they are not thinking of making money and thinking more about growing. Growth is impossible without the right funds.

Stay Prepared & Think Big

Apaksh told TimesNext that they never let the demand overwhelm them, as they were always ‘over-prepared’. The company works on one goal, and that is to ‘Think Big’. Their motivation and strength to ‘Think Big’ had helped them scale from 2 crores to 15 crores in 2019. Their growth goal was set at 25 crores, which prepared them for more. However, he believes that if they had established a 5 crore goal, they might not have achieved 15 crores, a laudable 8x increase in the growth.

For 2020, One Impression has set a goal for 100 crores, with a real-time expectation of 25-50 crore, a strategy that’ll help them prepare to scale better and bigger. Thankfully, at a time where COVID-19 has caused major businesses to collapse, One Impression, owing to their digital services, has not been impacted negatively by the pandemic. The lockdown has pushed many brands to go digital, which might help One Impression reach their annual goal.

A Clear Focus To Reinvent & Upgrade

One Impression is focused on sustainability over the competition. The company is continually reinventing and upgrading themselves, both technically and practically, to upscale their operation, building a more efficient platform. The platform has partnered with a New York-based company that is assisting them in improving their pre and post-campaign results. They are investing right at every step, without wasting capital on the unnecessary.

One Impression has worked with the top companies globally and has carried out various successful brand campaigns. The influencer marketing platform welcomes younger businesses and startups with open arms, connecting the right kind of influencer according to their budget.

On Favorite Projects

On being asked about their favorite project so far, Apaksh told TimesNext that there were many projects he loved, but there was one close to his heart. One Impression worked with Marico, a leading consumer goods company in India, for the launch of their products, including Parachute coconut oil in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Australia, UK, and the US.

The company is also working to build an influencer community on Pinterest, a creative image sharing & social media service. The platform is making an effort to create an influencer ecosystem on Pinterest.

Apaksh’s Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Apaksh believes that the influencer industry is a large industry that has massive scope for growing by 30-40% yearly, and maybe even more in the post-Coronavirus world, where major brands are looking into digital marketing. Apaksh believes that every aspiring entrepreneur should focus heavily on research and development of their product and services. One must explore a lot of avenues and must not be averse to changing their strategy in case a problem arises. Overall, once you start surrounding yourself with the right people and making informed business decisions, other things just come with the flow.

Our interview with One Impression’s founder, Apaksh Gupta, was very insightful and we are excited to see their future endeavors.