Senthu Velnayagam, Co-Founder of Kimp, tells us how to make unlimited graphic design or video design requests (or both!) and get unlimited revisions.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Kimp.
Senthu Velnayagam: I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for almost two decades now. And from the get-go, I was always working on something related to design. Initially, I was a self-taught designer freelancing and landing projects through forums where digital marketers were looking for banner designs. As that picked up in 2003, I became a solopreneur who provided banner designs through my eCommerce site – BannersMall. Eventually, I took on a partner to help me keep up with the influx of clients. And when that partner shifted gears to new projects, my brother and Co-Founder of Kimp, Ven, partnered up with me to expand BannersMall and then launch a design agency – Doto.
Both businesses were initially thriving, but over time there were vulnerabilities that caught up with us. With BannersMall, there was the emergence of competitors that were outdoing us when it came to innovation and automation. And with Doto, we fell into the trap that many agencies do. Our bottom line was too dependent on a few clients with big budgets. And as their priorities shifted and marketing budgets reduced, we had to look for ways to shift gears as well.
By late 2018 we were full-on into a pivot and testing all kinds of different design models. And that’s how Kimp came to be. It was a business model that allowed us to serve a more diverse client base worldwide while leveraging our strength and experience in providing graphic design services (and eventually video, too!).
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Senthu Velnayagam: As far as helpful habits go, I think the ones that have been most instrumental for me are:
i) being an early riser – I work with team members and clients in different time zones, which means the day can be long. But getting up early helps me carve out some time to ground myself and focus before I get into the thick of things.
ii) staying active – whether hitting the gym or being outside doing some yard work, I tend to keep up a diverse mix of activities which helps me stay energized and blow off steam.
iii) constantly exploring new ideas – whether related to Kimp or watching an interesting documentary, reading a fascinating book or article, getting a steady flow of new ideas helps me stay creative and innovate.
iv) being persistent – I think to be a Founder, you have to be very persistent and downright stubborn even when it comes to the level of commitment you have towards your vision and goals. And that’s regardless of whether anyone else understands them.
How does Kimp market its product/services online?
Senthu Velnayagam: At Kimp, we use a combination of paid ads and organic digital marketing techniques to promote our unlimited graphic design services and unlimited video design services (i.e., motion graphics, video editing, design and animation). This spans Google Ads, social media marketing, content marketing (e.g., blogging), and more as we constantly explore new channels and experiment with new tactics.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Senthu Velnayagam: We use Zapier for automation, the various social media platforms for insights and additional automation, Google Search Console and Analytics, Ubersuggest for content marketing research, and Zoho’s suite of tools to gather insights on the client, and prospective client, behavior, Crisp to facilitate chats with clients, and Campaign Monitor for email marketing.
As far as management skills go, project management is the primary skill I’d say that comes into play here. There are many moving parts and team members facilitating different aspects of them. So managing each component is key to ensuring that we’re generating the best results we can.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Senthu Velnayagam: With the pandemic, our hiring process has been revamped a few times in recent years. Whereas we used to have in-person interviews, as everything went remote, we had to adapt our processes as well. And so we advertise for our postings, and applicants can fill out a detailed form as a first step.
Candidates are then shortlisted and invited to participate in the first round of interviews if they qualify. Next, based on the role, we’ll have some skill-specific tests. So, for instance, for designers, there will be some design tests they have to complete. Once hired, team members go through various stages of onboarding and training.
In terms of retention, our main tools are providing support and flexibility to team members, such as the opportunity to work entirely remotely. We provide training and opportunities to take on new roles/advance in the company. Some of these opportunities arise during annual reviews, and we also assess team members on an ongoing basis.
How are you funding your growth?
Senthu Velnayagam: Kimp is an entirely bootstrapped company. From our pivot onwards, I’m proud to share that we’ve been funding our way forward.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Senthu Velnayagam: Kimp’s competitors are essentially any service offering subscription-based design – graphics and/or video/motion graphics. And there’s quite a few, and counting!
To stay in the game, we’re constantly looking at ways we can optimize our workflows and make the design process easier and more intuitive for clients. This means everything from building out our own tools for managing our team internally to creating new software to help clients make and manage their design requests. And a crucial part of all this is constantly collecting feedback from team members and clients so we can actively identify what’s working and what we can improve and enhance.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Senthu Velnayagam: Bec is the Founder and Owner of Love Thy Oils, based in Australia and has been a wonderful Kimp client for about 2 years now. Before working with Kimp, she found that she was spending far too much time trying to create designs for her business and not getting the results or quality she wanted. Since she started working with a Dedicated Design Team at Kimp, she’s been able to get her design projects done efficiently and free up more time to focus on her business:
Your final thoughts?
Senthu Velnayagam: When Kimp began with a pivot in 2019, I’d thought we’d seen it all in our first year. But since 2020, in the realm of the pandemic, Kimp, like every other business, has had to ship new ideas that have come about in unexpected ways, scrap others we were dead-sure of, and just generally operate at a pace and with agility, that we wouldn’t have expected otherwise. To any other Founders, or aspiring Founders, that have landed on this piece, I hope some of the insights into our journey have been helpful for you. And if you’re looking for a design service to help you get the design off your to-do list, I hope you’ll consider giving Kimp a try. One of the most gratifying things about the accessibility of our business model is knowing that we’ve been able to help businesses launch and scale through these challenging times. And we’d be honored to help you get your ideas off the ground as well.