#10 Episode: Interview with Nikesh Sheth. Co-Founder of Expertmile

EFox Question -Hi Nikesh, tell us a little bit about your background? How do you look back at your journey of a decade?

Nikesh Sheth - I am passionate about learning new things and exploring more and more, I started with M com, CA, MBA then I explored certifications in real estate, Digital marketing, Risk management, DISA (Diploma in Information Systems Audit), Forensic accounting to learn more. For initial four years post 2010 academics, I got a chance to represent my clients before various authorities like SEBI, Income tax department, ITAT, Service tax department to name a few. Fortunately, I got a chance to work with high profile cases in enforcement department, high/supreme court gave me exposure to judicial system of India while working along with top most lawyers in India.

EFox Question -What inspired you to build Expertmile.com?

Nikesh Sheth - While working around compliance and mainly non-compliance, I got some interesting insights as to root cause of such non-compliance. I studied cause of such non-compliance, which later also got converted into litigation. More than 60% of non-compliance by clients were because of lack of knowledge about compliance applicability and provisions of law to do it in legal and legitimate manner. When I dig further into this 60%, almost 30% could have been avoided just with knowledge about compliance and 30% with involvement of experts in their business.

One evening, I was having above discussions with my friend Chirag who is also a Chartered Accountant, he also had similar vision and he focused more on second 30% (i.e. involvement of experts). Chirag told me clients carry blockage in their mind that professional’s involvement is a costly affair which is not true. With seriousness of compliance by government, cost of non-compliance is much higher than cost of professional involvement. If one looks at a long term perspective forgetting about the cost factor, it certainly comes as rewarding when you involve professional in your business strategies.

Chirag worked in Deloitte in compliance and I worked more on non-compliance (Litigation) front,  We gave it a thought and started expertmile.com together to mainly focus on solving 60% of non-compliance and we aimed to work on avoidance of non-compliance with the help of knowledge sharing and providing access to specialized experts with ease.

Two solutions we thought about second 30%, make right experts easily available to clients who need them and make it easier for experts to keep themselves updated with frequently changing law. Coming to first 30% we thought it can be served by quality articles about applicable law, provisions and process.

EFox Question -One most important lesson that you have learnt till now?

Nikesh Sheth - Have patience, it takes time. “You can wear watch, not time”.

EFox Question -How Expertmile can help in tax, finance and legal matters?

Nikesh Sheth - One gets in touch with experts either for query or taking their services. On our platform people can ask query for free and contact experts after looking at their professional profile. One difference about our platform is that its more content driven platform and with this we attract quality traffic.

Expertmile helps through articles for awareness in tax, finance and legal matters. Most of content (In the form of articles or answer to queries) is provided by our registered experts, who contribute to build their online reputation and showcase their knowledge.

In addition to above expertmile act more as CRM for assignments. 

EFox Question -What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome initial mindset challenges?

Nikesh Sheth - In this journey we faced big challenge to convince experts that how knowledge sharing can help you in building online reputation which can work for you 24*7 worldwide. Some thought of why to share for free, over a period people started understanding that knowledge sharing is a marketing spend. People can do it through their own website, but now people also understand most of standalone websites are visited by site owners only (server and website maintenance costs kept aside). For small and medium professionals, it is very difficult to update site on daily basis. It’s similar history as to mall, where customers like to visit for more options and all at one place. But people understood this with experience only. 

EFox Question -How many experts have enrolled in Expertmile.com? How do you approach and convince an expert to join in the mission? What is your vision?

Nikesh Sheth - Our vision is “Complied India, Better India”. As on date we have about 4300 experts PAN India, most of them are CA, CS and Advocates. Our mission and revenue model are aligned with expert’s need which is “find expert near you”. At expertmile our job is to bring more business for experts. 

EFox Question -What are your plans for next 3 years?

Nikesh Sheth - On expert’s side, out of millions of experts in market getting onboard 10,000 experts who believe in our vision. Serve at least million clients in their compliance and finance needs through our content and experts.

To put it in nutshell, we are not looking for quantity game here but we are focusing on quality of experts, clients and assignments.

EFox Question -One mistake you believe every individual must avoid?

Nikesh Sheth - I made mistake in not hiring mix of team. In team you need mid-level as well as junior level employees. Like in movie Lagaan you need Bhuvan as well as Kachra to win. To elaborate further, experienced team member is required for Implementation and strategic direction. Freshers are Innovator, who will explore undefined strategies and try to implement them. If we have mix of both in startup, we can reduce the chances of failure and failure both. Further to say all are equally important for growth of startup, it cannot be achieved by just top-level efforts and vice versa.

EFox Question -What are other avenues for start up to grow without equity sale?

Nikesh Sheth - It is very subjective to say, which avenue is better but I would list down following avenues to grow startup apart from fund raising through equity sale,

1. Grow with internal accruals

2. Bank loans or P2P platforms for borrowing

3. Franchising

4. Advance from customers with long term contract and discount

EFox Question -Lastly what advice you would like to give to fellow entrepreneurs who are just starting? What is your take on Entrepreneurship?

Nikesh Sheth -It is“Action is more important than results”. Small story I firmly believe in. A person was facing many difficulties, he prayed to god and god gave him one wish. He asked for money, God said “Tathastu” and told man you will win lottery this week. Week passed person got angry as no lottery was won by him, he again prayed to god. God appeared and man said, I dint win lottery. God gave him tight slap and said, “at least buy lottery ticket”

I say, at least we need to buy tickets rather than just imagination of winning lottery or buying lottery ticket in imaginary world. As an entrepreneur, go ahead in exploring further and do not stop working till the time you are convinced by yourself that this will not work. On the flipside, if you are convinced that it’s not working out putting a full stop is also course of action. In nutshell, “take action” this what I can conclude with.