The FCDC was at BrightonSEO in April, and we spoke with the Founder of Botpresso, Nitin Manchanda.
He has been practicing SEO since 2012 and always experimenting with something new.
Name: Nitin Manchanda
What he Does: Founder & Chief SEO Consultant at Botpresso
Noteworthy: He is an engineer turned SEO, who loves scalability and automation.
Nitin’s Curiosity and SEO Career Path.
Nitin describes how he unknowingly stumbled into the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when he was assigned to the SEO technology team at Flipkart.
Despite having zero knowledge about SEO initially, he took the opportunity to learn and experiment. Nitin mentions his manager’s support in allowing him to explore and draw his conclusions.
He acknowledges the SEO community and the wealth of content available online, which fueled his love for SEO and a data-driven approach.
💡Soft Skills and Career Growth.
Chima and Nitin discuss the significance of staying grounded and accessible as a leader. Nitin mentions that he still maintains contact with his friends from Flipkart and feels connected to the Indian startup ecosystem.
He believes that the skills and connections he developed during his internship have positively impacted his career growth.
💡 The importance of taking calculated risks
Nitin shares the importance of taking calculated risks rather than being afraid of failure. He shared an example from his experience at Flipkart, where he proposed a plan to improve product pages’ rankings.
Despite initial reluctance, Nitin convinced his manager and went ahead with a quick test, which resulted in a significant increase in traffic.
💡The Learning Curve in Startups.
Nitin compared working for startups to working in enterprise-level companies. He emphasized the unique experience offered by startups, where ideas could be executed rapidly and learning was continuous.
He mentioned the challenges and rewards of working for smaller, fast-paced companies.
Risks can also Backfire.
Nitin also shared a time when a risk he took didn’t pay off. He discussed an instance at Trivago where a project to create category-specific landing pages faced delays and internal obstacles, resulting in an incomplete and underperforming feature.
This experience underscored the importance of not only taking risks but also having a backup plan or a manual alternative to prove the value of an idea.
The Power of Word of Mouth Referrals.
Nitin mentioned that a significant portion of their business, around 70%, comes through word-of-mouth referrals. This demonstrates the trust and reputation they have built within their network.
They strive to convert every project into a case study, celebrating successful collaborations with clients.
Transitioning from freelance consultant to agency owner.
Nitin advised individuals looking to transition from freelance consulting to building their own agency to work on their personal branding.
He highlighted the significance of giving back to the community and sharing knowledge to establish oneself as an expert and authority in the field.
He also emphasized the need to scale the business due to high demand and the limitations of being a one-man army.
Connect with Nitin
Chima Mmeje 0:09
Hi, everyone, we have our second guest here with us today. Very excited to dig into his theory because for those roots, I don’t know a lot about him. And that is the whole point of this series. Learn about the people that we don’t know jack shit about. So how do i pronounce your first name and your last name?
Nitin Manchanda 0:29
Yeah, first of all, thanks for having me. Also. name is Nitin.
Chima Mmeje 0:33
Nitin. Last Name. Last
Nitin Manchanda 0:34
name is Manchanda.
Chima Mmeje 0:35
Manchanda. Yeah, Nitin Manchanda. Yeah, that’s right. Awesome. All right. We’re gonna start with a question.
We always start with everybody on the show. What was the first job you ever did? Like dig all the way back to like when you were eight? 910 1112 the first job you ever did?
Nitin Manchanda 0:53
Yeah. Well, when I was studying, I was in 11th grade. That’s something that I’m I started teaching students. Okay.
And I used to love mathematics, economics, everything around that. All the numbers subjects, right. So I started teaching that. And that was the first job where I started making money. Wow.
Chima Mmeje 1:12
elevens you’re in 11th grade? Yeah, I started teaching mathematics to other students. We used to do it yourself. Yes, I was myself. Okay.
You did it yourself teaching, tutoring other students and then getting paid for tutoring there. Were you helping them with assignments too?
Nitin Manchanda 1:26
Oh, yeah. It was really fun. And when I was in 11th, I was finally teaching 12 standard students. So that was fun. I’m really proud of,
Chima Mmeje 1:36
yes, you’re getting paid for helping people. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. To you do that. And then what was the next thing that put money in your pockets?
Nitin Manchanda 1:46
Yeah. So after, you know, like, teaching, I did that for a couple of years. And then I did my graduation, post graduation and master’s in computer applications, computer applications.
And then I think in my master’s, there was a six months mandatory internship. Okay. And that is when I, you know, first made money through my, you know, like, professional career, which is not teaching. And yeah, so I was, I was
Chima Mmeje 2:13
okay, hold on. I feel like we’ve skipped a lot of things. When you were a student in university. Did you do any work? No, you didn’t work in university.
You didn’t work in your MSU until you did your internship? Yeah. Okay. Cool. So you do this internship. Where do you do internship at? Yeah.
Nitin Manchanda 2:29
So there’s this company called Flipkart, which was a startup that time just 50. Folks when I joined Flipkart, Flipkart, everybody knows exactly, that’s what I was about to say, when I started, there was just 50.
People. Okay, right. Even the cofounders they were on the same floor. I used to get scared like, hey, shall I just speak with him or not? He’s a big shot. Right. So I was an intern that time, but yeah, that company gave me a lot of exposure, a lot of amazing learning.
And yeah, I think I started there. And in a couple of years, I’ve seen that brand growing from 50 to 500. Engineers, I’m just talking about the tech team, because I was part of that team. So that internship gave me you know, first, I would say like, penny that I earned, what did
Chima Mmeje 3:09
you learn during the internship, skill wise and soft skills?
Nitin Manchanda 3:13
Yeah. So I was a software developer intern, and I built Flipkart email marketing platform from scratch, along with another amazing software engineer was my mentor there.
Chima Mmeje 3:24
Wow. That’s amazing. And did you learn any soft skills that has been beneficial to your career? While you actually cuts?
Nitin Manchanda 3:31
Yes, definitely. I think the most important skill I learned is, you know, inclusion, right? And how we basically so there, as I mentioned, like, even founders, right, they were also on the same floor.
And they were amazing guys, right? They had like, a lot of experience. And they were doing fantastic in the life. But they were very approachable, right? And I think speaking with them, and learning from them was so easy. And I also had like a lot of other folks.
So the folks who came to our campus for interviewing, interviewing us, right, so they were also there, but they were super approachable. I remember you’re talking with them, whatever, like, you know, even personal stuff. And they were like, Hey, let’s talk about it easy.
So they were all easygoing. So there, I think I learned how one should be one should stay grounded all the time, even if you know, whatever you’re achieving professionally. So I learned it from there. And I think I’m still trying to do that.
Chima Mmeje 4:21
So that’s a good I think that’s a good skill to have as a leader, staying grounded and accessible to everybody, not just in your team, but like the wider organisation.
So people feel like they can come up to you and talk to you about any ideas they might have or any issues they might be facing. That’s a very good one. And how has that helped you? Your career grows?
Nitin Manchanda 4:41
Well, I think like those folks, right? First of all taught me a lot of good things. And so my friends, I still talk to them every now and then. So they are now my friends for life you can see right and also like flip India, if you talk about India, right? It’s a it’s an amazing country full of startups and full of amazing ideas.
Every now and then you would see like, you know, there is big startup or big product which is built out of India. And Indians are non for techies. Right. I mean, I walk on the road here in Brighton is from India, are you turkey?
That’s like a stereotype, right? Because we have that tech culture. Yes. And I think now whenever I see I read news, I see, you know, there is a startup which got this much funding. Yes. I see some Flipkart that maybe the guy you know, was part of Flipkart journey.
Yeah. And that helped them that totally helped. Yeah. So I feel like very much connected with that. Flipkart, or sorry, India, startup ecosystem. Yeah. The whole ecosystem. Yeah.
Chima Mmeje 5:38
So after you finish your internship at Flipkart. Next, have you actually a job? How do you learn that first job?
Nitin Manchanda 5:45
Yeah. So I was an intern at Flipkart. And I think they loved my work. And they gave me a PPO, which is called pre placement offer.
Okay, so they said, Hey, we’re happy. Why don’t you join us full time? And I love that company. I was like, yes, let’s do that.
Chima Mmeje 5:58
And that was so you went from internship to doing full time? And what do you think you did? Right, with Flipkart that made him say we need to keep knitting?
Nitin Manchanda 6:08
Yeah, I think seriousness, the accountability, even though I was in turn, but I’m always super serious about whatever, whatever I do. In fact, I think the meaning of within my name is, you know, expertise, like explored in one direction. What like something, you know, that you do? Yeah.
So I think yeah, I love perfection. And whatever I did, I always wanted to learn, I took that as an opportunity to learn. I did my I gave my best. And I think that paid off. And then they said, Hey, let’s, you know, work together. And here when I joined Flipkart is full time I was again, software development engineer, not intern anymore. Right? And my salary increased to 3x 4x.
And I was happy about that. Yeah. But when I joined Flipkart, they assigned me SEO technology team. Okay. I had absolutely zero clue about us, to be honest, like, even the full form I was not sure about. So you
Chima Mmeje 6:59
can lead to SEO by accident like everybody else lately.
Nitin Manchanda 7:01
Even even for the full form, right? I googled just to check whether I know the right foot from or not. So that’s how it began. And fortunately, unfortunately, when I joined Flipkart, there was no SEO manager or someone who was taking care of us from marketing side.
But my manager was amazing. And I think he gave me that luxury. He was like, hey, you know, I know you are, you know, a very a guy with the rationale. So why don’t you just go try things out and then conclude.
So yeah, I think I had no one who could mentor me, but I had the whole web. Right. And it wasn’t community. Well, now I can talk about SEO community, right? That, um, I didn’t know like, where to go.
But there was amazing content. So I started reading started experimenting. And that is where my love with SEO as well as this data driven approach started.
Chima Mmeje 7:49
Okay, I want to dig into that thing you just said about experimenting, because that has been a theme with every single guest we’ve had in the past two days, experimenting, failing, risking, and then putting that in your process. While you were experiments in Were you afraid of failure?
Nitin Manchanda 8:08
Well, I think in some cases, I was a bit. Right. But I think I learned the art of you know, like taking calculated risks explained. Dig into that. Yeah. So for example, while it was like back in 2012, right, so we are even if you’re changing something in your meta tags, or you know, adding maybe a link in your breadcrumbs,
which gets like, hundreds of internal links for, you know, some of your category pages, brand pages, and so on. So those those things used to work. So now, I found a clear opportunity for the product pages. So I went to my manager, I was like, hey, look, I found this opportunity.
And I read, you know, if you do this, you know, this scan, and there was a clear reasoning. And I connected that with CTO, I proposed a plan to him, he was like, Well, that sounds good. But our product leads are already ranking on an average number three, and they’re bringing a lot of traffic.
So I think right now, we won’t be able to take any risk with them. Why don’t you continue with some other, you know, experiment, okay. But I was like, No, we are at rank three, why not rank two? Why not rank one? Right. So I was I was basically like I mentioned, like, I was always going for, you know, the best.
So I somehow kind of half convinced him. He was like, Well, I think whatever you’re saying is okay, I was like, hey, look, I can I can probably do a quick test. Right? And that’s how you know this. Love it testing started.
So it was like, Well, that sounds good. But you would have to convince the VP of the department, right? Because he would be like crazy. If you talk about this. I was like, yeah, that you can live on me. And now I was a kid. I went to him. I was like, hey, look, you know, this is what I want to do.
And this is how the plan looks right. And I would not do this. I will not go all in. Right. I would like I shared my plan that hey, I’m just looking at 10% of the overall inventory and that to the categories which are not probably really, really hard for us. So can I do that?
He was like, Well, you just speak with your manager, if you if he’s calm, confident with what are you doing? I’m okay with that. But be really careful, right? Because this is business. This is our product pages. Yes. So I did that. And the impact was magical. So I think within like three to four weeks, we started, you know, these, seeing these keywords moving up.
And I think after, like, couple of months, we were ranking almost for all those keywords at rank one, because Flipboard also had massive brand visibility there. So yeah, we were ranking for all these keywords in one. And then it was like, Oh, this is amazing.
Let’s do that for all the categories now. So I happily did that. Because I was a developer. So implementing was easy for me. Yeah, I did that. And yeah, I think then that just one change, I think gave us like 30% More traffic on our pages.
Chima Mmeje 10:52
Wow. So it’s not just taking a risk worth taking calculated risk. So that’s if it fails, then it doesn’t really have like that great an impact on our websites. And then you can revert back to what you were doing before.
That’s why you use 10%. And then if it succeeds, then you can implement on a larger scale, that is a very smart plan that I think works, not just for SEO, but for anything, if you’re going to take risk, do it on a small scale, so that you’re testing and you know, breaking, you know, breaking the websites.
And then if it works, then you can now implement and then make that a part of your process. Tell me about a time when you took a risk, and it did not pay off
Nitin Manchanda 11:32
here? Well, I think this was like if we talk about SEO in particular. So when I was working at Trivago. Okay, so we found an opportunity where we didn’t have team pages. So they have like hotels in Barcelona, they have a landing page for that, which was doing great, right?
If you search for hotels in Brighton where we are right now they had a landing page, which is doing great. However, if you talk about beach hotels in Brighton, right, so you might have searched for that if you have an amazing hotel. So you might have searched for beach hotels, right?
They did not have pages, which were you know, like category, cross filter, they didn’t have these pages, it was clear opportunity and Trivago I of course check the inventory as well, they had inventory as well. Right. So it’s like, if you have inventory, if you have demand, why why they’re not collecting them.
So that was the idea. So we had a lot of search volume proved, you know, like how we can go with that. Everyone was convinced. And we started working on that, even though it was like I would say like a bit large scale MVP. And we estimated roughly two months for that when we started and everyone from design to engineering to data.
Everyone was involved in that. But yeah, the whole process, when we started working on that there was some blockers, so sometimes data team was not available. So there was a lot of back and forth. And they were internal changes as well, which caused further delays.
So this two months plan became five months plan, right? And then we implemented the whole thing for five months. And we started with, okay, we need five modules. But when after five months, we completed this, we were like, hey, you know, right now, we don’t want to three, by four and five, we are blocked on many other things.
So let’s go live with these three things. Right. But that was not what we wanted. So that was not helping the user find what they’re looking for. So even, you know, in this case, instead of two months, we spent five months, and still the product was the the feature was half cooked.
Right. So it did not perform as expected. Right. So we ran like further iteration. But I think that was like a case where you know, we could probably not even build a product.
But maybe we could just do something manually a couple of weeks in launch to prove the value of it. Wow, sure that that really backfired. I was really upset because investing five months for a brand like Trivago. It’s a lot of time.
Chima Mmeje 13:47
But that’s the thing. I think it’s important to talk about when risk payoff and when the risk doesn’t pay off. So thank you for sharing that. All right. So real quickly, you’ve left Flipkart, where did you go to next? Was it revival? What’s your next step after Flipkart? Yeah,
Nitin Manchanda 14:01
well, after Flipkart. So the reason why I left Flipkart. So Flipkart was, as I mentioned, like, it grew from 50 to 500 engineers, and I was just another engineer there. Right. So I wanted like to work on more impactful projects.
Right. So and I think, like, when the company grows, there is a lot of bureaucracy as well, right? Yes. So I just wanted to run away from the, and I wanted to work with startups where you know, you think about something today and tomorrow you can implement I love that.
So your learning curve is you know, like with that mindset, I joined this company called lane road, which is an E commerce. And yeah, I basically joined there and I was taking care of their SEO strategy, as well as software development part of the whole SEO.
So it was dual role, but I was loving that even though I was stretched. I love learning. I still keep myself stretched all the time.
Chima Mmeje 14:50
That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So how did you end up at your current role?
Nitin Manchanda 14:54
Yeah, so Well, I worked for like first four years of my career, primarily with TSA. UNOPS in India, and after that I was looking to experiment at large scale. International SU was another thing which I wanted to learn that time where it’s to a leader. She was speaking a lot about international SEO.
And I was I’m still a big fan of her. And yeah, then I started looking out for opportunities where I could you not do that, whatever I wanted. So I managed to crack through Vagos product rule for SEO. role. And yeah, so I moved to Germany, it was, I think, a great decision.
I loved you know, everything in the company, the culture, which was amazing. It still is amazing. And yeah, that’s, that’s where my real I would say, learning curve started on product cross SEO, it is working for startups a totally different experience than working for an enterprise. And that too, you know, if it were a company with 1200 people, yeah. Yeah.
Chima Mmeje 15:52
So do you work for Trivago right now? No, no, I’ve
Nitin Manchanda 15:54
worked for Trivago for a couple of years. Yeah. And then move to Berlin joined this company called Omeo. Again, travel tech company, worked for a couple of years, and then COVID happened. And here after COVID, the company basically, yeah, they sent everyone on furlough for three months.
Right. And so that was my chance to experiment, everything I wanted. And I always wanted to build my own brand. Okay. And when I was I was working at Trivago. So I also started hosting webinars for sem rush project. So I till date, I’ve done 50 Plus webinars, so I’m really proud of that.
Thanks to Anton for that, who basically got me that somehow, and yes, so I started that. So I like while working at Trivago and Omeo. I was also working on a personal branding. Yeah, so that really helped me.
And then you know, when this COVID happened, and I wanted to experiment, and then everything worked in favour. So I was like, Okay, I think now’s the time to start my own brand. And I was able to fine. Yeah, my pencil. Yeah,
Chima Mmeje 16:49
sorry. I keep I keep confusing. botsify. And apologies. It is what first? So I don’t know, did the names, I think just didn’t just confuse me. Sorry. That was really sorry about pressure. Yeah. Because I really wanted to dig into that starting your own business has to be one of the scariest things.
Yeah. How did you even get to the mindset to say, I’m going to do this? Like, what was what was the the series of steps that led you to that decision? That said, Okay, I’m going to do this, and then you set up the business and then grows to what it is now?
Nitin Manchanda 17:21
Yeah, well, again, you know, the same approach that I take in projects or calculated risks. So when I got three months, you know, sitting at home, doing nothing, you’re still getting 60% of the salary. Right? So I was like, okay, good time to experiment that. Right.
So I, I ran this MVP there, right? And I was like, always consulting operando, too, but it was like, you know, along with my full time job. So, but then these three months are like, Okay, I’ll probably he’ll help some brands, you know, in three months, maybe tiny project, and that worked in my favour.
So that’s how this MVP gave me, you know, some confidence that okay, I can go all in. It was not easy, of course, to say no to a good paycheck that he will get anyway, right? But then I took this hard step.
And I was like, Okay, I’ll go there. And I checked my bank account balance. I was like, okay, even if I don’t make any money for next 12 months, I can survive. That’s a very smart, calculated risk. Yeah. And my wife is very supportive, right? And she also was like, Hey, go ahead.
I’m with you. You know, even if you fail, it’s okay. At least five, five years after you won’t feel that I never tried. Yes. Right. So I tried that. And I think I gave myself 12 months time that, hey, in 12 months, I want to reach at the same salary, monthly salary level, you know, which I’m getting right now. But that happened in three months. I love
Chima Mmeje 18:33
the fact that you were you were realistic with the fact that it could take some time for you to become profitable enough to meet that salary goal. I also love the fact that you set the targets for how long it will take you to start making while making when you worked for another company,
I love that you have to be realistic, you have to be very realistic. And then it happened in three months, you started making what you were making in house, and that was obviously paid off.
Nitin Manchanda 18:59
Oh, totally. Yeah. I think after three months self I was, you know, I started saying no to potential leads coming my way because no bandwidth, right? And I started as a freelance consultant independent, everybody. Yeah, exactly. Right. So my goal was like, Hey, I’m sorry, I’m sitting on a beach.
You know, our kids are playing around. I’m working. So I was imagining that. And very soon I realised there’s massive demand. And as a one man army, I can’t scale and what if you know, I’m sick? And there is an important project going live? Right.
Chima Mmeje 19:29
You might have said the same exact thing yesterday, you guys didn’t even know he Manny said this exact same thing yesterday.
Nitin Manchanda 19:35
Yeah. So yeah, I think, yeah, I was, you know, like, kind of thinking about that as well that what if you know if I’m sick, and there’s a board project going like, I can’t be the bottleneck. So then I started thinking about hiring.
And I spoke with a lot of folks because I was struggling with hiring. I only wanted to hire rockstars. But then fortunately, in November 2021, I managed to find my first full timer, right He had like, a, like three years of experience. But fantastic guide, super, super accountable, very hungry.
He was a fantastic first hire. And then I think the journey began because this guy very quickly owned, you know, my trust, and we had a great relationship as well. And then I started hiring more and more people. And right now the team is 14 Folks, right. But I’m really proud of each one of our teammates.
They’re amazing. They’re hungry, they challenge each other, they’re very respectful. So I think we often talk about that internally as well, that we spend more time with each other than we do with our families.
Right. So we should be, we should have this true relationship of trust authenticity, and you know, that we can challenge as well, but in a respectful way. So we are learning from each other. I think that’s, that’s brilliant.
Chima Mmeje 20:46
I feel like the last question I have to ask you has to be how do you make what what advice would you give to someone who is watching those guys trying to make that transition from freelance consultant
because that’s how most people start agencies, from freelance consultants to I don’t want to say agency, but agency. Yeah. What’s your advice for someone who is trying to make that transition?
Nitin Manchanda 21:05
Yeah, I think the biggest advice I would give is, like work on your personal branding. So good stuff. So do good.
And give that back to community, our community’s amazing, the community is giving each other a lot of good stuff. So it’s your your chance to give that back. And once you do that, people appreciate it.
Chima Mmeje 21:24
So so let me just get straight to you saying do the personal brand by giving back sharing knowledge. I just want to make sure I got that straight. Okay.
Nitin Manchanda 21:32
Yeah, exactly. So give it back. And I think that’s how you build your personal brand. And people know you for some quality, if you’re just doing what everyone else is doing, and not even talking about that no one would know what you’re doing.
Right? Once you start building your personal brand, I think the community is amazing. And if you decide to go, you know, this freelancing, or you know, building your own consultancy, or agency, right, this path, so I think it, it is not like, not not a cakewalk, but it’s not difficult.
If you’re doing awesome stuff. If you know what you’re doing, and you’re good at it, you can do wonders.
Chima Mmeje 22:08
I like that advice of, of building a personal brand, centred around sharing knowledge as a way to become an expert and authority, and then using that to scale your business.
Because obviously, when people trust and authority, then you’re going to start getting more leads than you can handle. And then that makes it easier to scale to agency. That’s really good advice. That is really good advice.
Nitin Manchanda 22:30
Yeah, it’s been two years, you know, I’m building my brand. And I think like most of the business that we get right now, I would say like 70 personalities, right? That’s coming through my network.
And that’s coming through word of mouth. Because whatever we do, every single project that we work on, we own it totally. And we want to convert every project that’s coming our way to a case study that we can celebrate together with the client. Yes.
So we have that mindset. We have that, you know, hunger to be the best at what we’re doing. And I think that is also bringing us now new. That’s why I mentioned 3030, right? Yes, I will to like by the end of first year, it was like 100% through my network.
And that too, like, I was not really reaching out to people. I never done that. Right? Everyone was coming to my way. And then I was like, Okay, I have like five options. I’ll just work with this. And this, I won’t be able to work with these three. Right.
But now I think from a growth perspective, I’m thinking about how we can scale up how we can work with different niches with different and complicated projects. So that we also learn. So yeah, we’re working on that and scaling up our team as well. So all the listeners, we’re hiring as well.
Chima Mmeje 23:31
That’s amazing. That’s amazing. Where can people find your website? On your socials?
Nitin Manchanda 23:35
Yeah, so it’s called bought press? Right here. Yes, right. Yeah, that’s right. That’s all we need is like we have SEO brains.
We have you know, that understanding, all we need is our crawling bots, and espresso everything else we have that support so and yeah, you can search with WordPress, so and you can also search for my name. I think I’m pretty friendly.
Chima Mmeje 23:57
what’s your what’s your handle on Twitter? Yeah, that’s
Nitin Manchanda 23:59
it man. And IP a man
Chima Mmeje 24:01
on Twitter, Nick, man on Twitter. You can find him on Twitter on LinkedIn stream. Neat man on LinkedIn.
Nitin Manchanda 24:06
Yes. So you can Yeah, this man is a slug,
Chima Mmeje 24:09
right? Oh, yes. Okay. linkedin.io n slash Nick. Got it. Thank you so much for doing this episode with us.
Nitin Manchanda 24:17
Thanks for having me. It was lovely. Bye bye. Goodbye.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
The FCDC provides free mentorship and continuous training for BIPOC professionals in developing countries
Your cash donations empowers us to host continuous training sessions and achieve our mission of providing BIPOC professionals with the tools to excel
Freelance coalition for developing countries All rights reserved.