Today I am presenting another written interview with Ajay Prasad. Ajay is a serial entrepreneur, successful business strategist, and an adept marketing expert. Before laying the foundation of his various successful entrepreneurial ventures, he served for companies listed in Fortune 10 rankings. His specialization lies in web and Internet based businesses, Internet strategy and implementation, and web marketing services.
Ajay is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading Orange County digital marketing agency dedicated to helping businesses maximize revenue from the Internet. Ajay also owns and operates GMR Transcription, a seven-figure web based business and award-winning transcription and translation company which he built from scratch using the strategies that he uses for his own digital marketing clients.
With over 30 years of professional business experience, Ajay would be an excellent guest to discuss all aspects of digital marketing, entrepreneurship success, and growing a profitable business via the Internet.
Check out the interview:
- What got you interested in starting a transcription business?
I was doing marketing consulting work and taped a 7-hr meeting between my client and I, and needed it to be transcribed to text. I talked to several companies and received quotes of $4,000 to $11,000 or per line rate. I could not find one transcription company that offered upfront, transparent rates.
The prevalent pricing method for transcription at the time was ‘per line’, which made it impossible to know what the cost of my project would be until it was completed. I ended up transcribing that project all on my own to avoid the risk of a transcription bill that I could not afford.
After completing my own transcription, I realized that thousands of consultants like me must be facing the same problem, and saw an opportunity to build a transcription business with a transparent pricing model that charged ‘per minute’ instead of ‘per line’. This would allow individuals seeking transcription services to know exactly how much they would have to pay before the project began.
To my surprise, this business took off. In the 5th year of operation, it hit the magic seven-figures in revenue. It is still a thriving business managed by a team of three full-time employees. GMR Transcription employs over 250 independent contractor transcribers located all over the United States to transcribe recordings of its 8,800 and growing registered customers.
- What kinds of challenges did you encounter when you started this business?
The first problem was technology at that time. Most people had Internet connection through their phone. We learned about this quickly when people started calling because their file was still not uploading after one week.
The website crashed more than once. Not only did this prevent a lot of incoming clients, but it also made us look like an unreliable service provider. How could a client expect for us to provide our claims of fast turnaround and high quality transcriptions without a decent working website? We bit the bullet and bought much more powerful servers. This has not been a problem since.
More clients also meant recruiting more transcribers, as well as hiring more people to manage those newly recruited transcribers. This resulted in a team of 12 managing the businesses. We invested $75,000 to build a proprietary platform for managing the business. You may be surprised to know that the business volume has grown 500% since that point, while I have a team of only 3 people managing the business.
- How did you develop a process for this business?
Now, my entire business is systemized, and it runs without me. Clients are able to upload their audio files and transcribers are able to retrieve them through our system. I would say that the single most effective strategy that I used to help my business thrive and function without me was defining a process of activities upfront. It was important to me to develop a system to manage the business, and develop some type of online platform for clients to upload voice files anywhere in the US. My best strategy for being able to have a systemized business that runs without you is building a well-defined system.
- What is your company’s unique value proposition?
What truly sets our company apart from other transcription companies is that we are entirely US based. We use human transcribers that are based in the US that must pass a stringent test and do not accept just anyone to make sure that the quality of our transcripts are exceptional. We do not outsource any of our work overseas in order to protect the privacy of our clients and to ensure accuracy of transcripts. We also focus on privacy and employ a security system similar to one used by sites like Amazon. Our security process has been reviewed and approved by institutions like Chevron and Harvard University. Also, what you’ll find about us is our outstanding customer service. We have representatives available to answer questions and help clients troubleshoot any issues when uploading/downloading their files. We’re here to serve our customers with the service they deserve!
- What kind of marketing strategy did you use to build this online-based 7-figure business?
Given that this is an online business and I also own a digital marketing agency, I focused completely on digital marketing in the beginning. I tested the concept by advertising transcription services locally on Google Adwords. While it was not profitable in the beginning, it proved the need. I next launched a complete online marketing campaign that included search engine marketing, social media marketing, reputation development, and retargeted advertising. These activities started to generate steady stream of clients.
Given our focus on client satisfaction, we also started getting referrals from existing clients, so we started a formal referral program. Now about 50% of all new customers come through referrals.
GMR Transcription was featured in a Fox News program and in a Wall Street Journal study which also helped build the brand.