Dev Basu has never wasted time in his professional life. He incorporated his business, Powered by Search, just a day after graduating college, giving up a six-figure job he’d already gotten while still a student. He continues to grow and expand his business, with $6 million expected revenue for 2016, and a goal of $28 million for 2019.
Dev’s childhood was spent in India and in Canada. Born in Calcutta, he was just one year old when his family moved to Canada. At the age of 4 he was back in India where his family moved to various cities (as his father’s job took him all over). When he was 16, the family went back to Canada where Dev finished his last year of high school. He accredits these moves to teaching him to be adaptable and learning how to get along with various types of people.
While in college, he did a co-op at Microsoft. When he ran into a productivity problem with a search engine, he knew he had to resolve it. He went to the VP of his division and they tried to solve it, but with no luck. However, this problem kept haunting Dev, and he couldn’t stand not being able to solve the problem.
After the co-op, Dev started a blog about making money online. But the search engine problem was still on his radar. As local search began, he attempted to understand what factors would make a company rank as a local business.
He began working as a consultant while also studying and working full-time. By the time he graduated he was ready to incorporate his company “Powered by Search” – which he did the day after graduation. In the process, he walked out of a six figure job!
As he got started, he was contacted by a representative of RE/MAX Real Estate asking him to give a talk about social media for realtors, which led to them becoming a client. In just his first month in business, he made between $10 and $15 thousand. Within a year his small company had 15-17 clients, bringing in about $450,000. Clients were happy to work with him and help Powered by Search grow, because they could see the growth in their business.
Unexpectedly, appendicitis landed him in the hospital, and while still on morphine he received resignation from one of his 2 employees. Stuck in the hospital, he couldn’t plan the transition until only 2 days were left with the outgoing employee. From this, he learned to be sure to hire people who share the same core values, such as putting others first – which has since become one of the business values at Powered by Search. He says that it’s important to hire people with the same “operating system” as yourself, who will “make the same types of decisions as you.”
Powered by Search provides SEO services, helping businesses – especially businesses with local stores – rank well in Google. However, he targeted a niche that was untapped: large businesses with many (sometimes thousands of) local branches.
In the podcast, Dev also talks about how he combined Powered by Search with two other companies, doubling the revenue and tripling the staff. There were difficulties of course, but Dev and his new cofounders were able to overcome the challenges and continue to move forward. At the same time, they also sought to make changes to attract more world-class employees, recognizing that pay, a sense of belonging, personal development, and balance in life are all major factors in employee happiness.
As a business, his mantra was to connect the right person with the right place at the right time through search. This has led Powered by Search to expect $6 million in revenue for 2016, with a goal of $28 million for 2019. They plan to work with companies looking to make a significant shift in their digital strategy.
Dev’s advice for anyone starting a digital marketing agency:
- There’s always opportunity
- Be in top 5% of experts for a very niche area (e.g. “Facebook ads expert for surgeons,” or an “Instagram ads expert for the fashion industry”)
- Don’t try to read everything; curate and read what the top 20% in your field are offering
Some other great advice:
- A goal without a plan is a pipe dream
- If the plan is not feasible and doesn’t have smart goal setting, you’re not going to achieve it
- If you’ve already started your business and you’re trying to grow, find a mentor, learn, join an entrepreneurial club, and talk to others in other businesses (because you can learn a lot more, and they’re easier to get ahold of than someone in your field)
- Talk to clients. Know what’s keeping them up at night, and what problems they wish they could solve, but haven’t been able to. Be curious.
The E-Myth : Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber