After completing his engineering & MBA, Shiv started working in the IT Industry (mostly startups) and learnt the rules of the game. Poised with the challenge of starting something of his own, Shiv created 3 ventures - PMExamSmartNotes.com, TheSmartOnlineBusiness.com and MyPassiveIncomeEducation.com
In this exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, we learn from Shiv the insider story of how it all started, what they are working on, where it's headed and a lot more. Read on!
CE: Tell us about your growing up years and family background. Are you a first generation entrepreneur?
Shiv Shenoy, Founder @ My Passive Income Education
Shiv Shenoy: I grew up in a small coastal town in Southern Karnataka. While my brother had chosen to get into business, my sister and I chose to get a job. After my engineering studies I joined a software development company and worked in IT industry for 15 years - majority of which I spent with start-up companies. We would build software products for start-up clients and get to see business side view of their entrepreneurship journey. The insights I could get while working with start-ups shaped a desire to 'start something on my own'. During this time I managed to get my management education at IIM – during which marketing started to seem pretty interesting.
Years of corporate lifestyle got to me and one day I found myself hospitalized with severe back pain. While being there for 2 weeks I had plenty of 'alone time' - for the first time in over a decade - to reflect about what I was doing with my life.
This thought stayed with me for some time and got me to a point where it became easier to take the decision to quit the job and start on my own.
CE: Why did you decide to become an online entrepreneur leaving a well-settled job? What were your baby steps in the world of entrepreneurship?
Shiv Shenoy: Like I said earlier there were multiple factors that lead me to leave high-paying job and become online entrepreneur. The void of not contributing much to society, lure of freedom as being one’s own boss, and round-the-clock work at the job (I had 5 hrs of daily commute) that didn't let me spend time with family - were a combination of pull and push that made me take the plunge.
It wasn’t an easy journey, but was made possible due to the understanding and support I received from my parents, my wife Preethi and our two children. It is something I cannot express in words.
Being a risk-averse person (at least at the beginning ) I preferred to take baby steps. I would learn one technique apply it on the job and measure results. Along the way I made many mistakes and learned from them.
Educating myself about the nuances of Digital Marketing was essential. This was much different (at least tactically) from the Marketing lessons I studied in classroom. I was bogged down by information overload and lack of direction, and had to try various strategies to see what worked and what did not. This approach of experimentation became my best ally.
In the process I learnt as much as I could about nitty gritties of Digital Marketing such as SEO, web-writing, email marketing, conversion optimization, content marketing, various advertising methods, and branding. I took courses from Google Analytics Academy, and an online course in Behavioral Economics from Duke University to understand human behavior around money.
As the project management blog evolved into an ecosystem for PMP prep I started getting some massive results. People in my network started to take notice and approached me for help with their businesses.
Thus began the second venture, to provide Digital Marketing services.
Through this venture I got a chance to work with movie producer for social promotions, with start-up to solve their recruitment issues and with small and medium businesses to either take their business online, or leverage the power of internet to further build their brand and increase revenue.
CE: You are Certified PMP Expert and Coaches PMP aspirant too. Tell us more about it.
Shiv Shenoy: I had to leverage my strengths to get a start. After some research it became evident to me that there was not a one-stop-place that provided not only all the information about Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam, but also made it possible to get this with relative ease.
Being a PMP student myself I was aware of the problems one goes through to prepare for this exam. PMP isn't easiest of the exams to crack, and with long hours of work and the need to make time for family and self, for many people PMP exam preparation was a difficult proposition, and I was in a position to help.
To be honest I had no idea of how to go about building a business around this idea and get myself paid. I took a leap of faith and started sharing all my exam notes on a simple blog.
Thus PMExamSmartnotes.com (PMESN) was born.
I learnt how to write for the web-surfer who skip-reads the online content - and converted all my notes over next 9 months.
Next, the challenge was to help PMP students discover my blog. I focused more on Internet Marketing and implementing those strategies on the blog. I also started provide solutions on the blog & connected social media to each of the hurdles that a busy professional faces on the way to getting PMP certification.
It was a patience game as I hardly made any money in the first year. I knew that selling my services directly would be harder, and the simplest way to get repeat visitors to my blog is by providing insane value. Once I had traffic I could look at ways to monetize the content.
Over a period of time I recognized a pattern and created an informational funnel for a PMP newbie to get into and exit out with the PMP certificate.
Thus the simple blog turned into a PMP eco-system with a steady stream of PMP aspirants around the world getting on it.
Soon the revenue from this business surpassed my day-job salary. Everything was an upside - freedom of time and location to do what I wanted and how I wanted - at the same time being able to help thousands of people reach their professional goal.
CE: What key problem is MyPassiveIncomeEducation trying to solve?
Shiv Shenoy: The birth of this venture too is organic. Just as it happened with Digital Marketing services, some of my friends and PMP coaching students found that I was earning rather handsome passive income, and asked me to help them.
After working with few I realized that I was trading my time for revenue - which was not something I wanted to do. I wanted to leverage my time and reach as many people as I could.
Thus earlier this year I registered MyPassiveIncomeEducation.com and started sharing my Digital Marketing lessons on the blog.Automation of businesses, easy availability of cheaper resources, lack of upskilling of employees by organizations, additional financial need for children's education and multiple mortgages are some of the problems faced by many. They need to know how easy it is to leverage the power of Internet and set up additional passive income streams. They need to educate themselves how to do this by spending less than an hour every day to build their own businesses, which over 6-12 months can generate enough income to surpass their day-job salary.
Many people have successfully moved from employment to entrepreneurship (here's how). Doing this myself, facing many failures and tasting some success I am in a position to share this practical knowledge in a result-based approach.
CE: Tell us more about features of MyPassiveIncomeEducation.
Shiv Shenoy: 'Value-first' is my basic approach to online businesses. I've shared many of my lessons on the blog and will continue to do so - for free.
'MyPIE' as I call it for short, will focus primarily on people in the job that are a bit tired of the fact that their efforts do not pay them well. No matter what results you get on a job, the compensation will never be proportionate to the returns you deserve. If you put in even one tenth of the effort in your own business you could be making much more than your day-job income in the medium to long run.
MyPIE is helping people set up various passive income streams on the sides - by spending as little as an hour a day.
Apart from the blog there will be how-to ebooks (mostly on Amazon Kindle) and courses teaching various result-based passive income models. Each of these are the ones I've personally used and earned income from.
First set of products are expected by end of August.
CE: Who are other people behind MyPassiveincomeEducation? How big is your team right now and where do you operate from (office location/set up)?
Shiv Shenoy: Officially, it's just me. I constantly look at cutting cost and getting the best work done, so my focus is to automate the business as much as possible. For specific tasks I get the work done by outsourcing. It's like a virtual team with different skillset that I dip into based on need and pay them based on results.
I operate from three locations....all in my home.
We moved into a new home some time ago, and I could plan home interiors to include a home office. In other words, from 5-hour commute during my employment days now I have a 5-second commute to work.
In reality though I could work from anywhere - as long as I have a laptop and Internet connection. I have, over past 3 years worked from airport lounges, hotel, beach side, holiday homes and even hospital.
CE: What is your revenue model? What are the stats in terms of numbers of users per month and monthly growth.
Shiv Shenoy: I have integrated several revenue models into my businesses - Advertising, ebook sales, royalty from Kindle book sales, services, article licensing, and affiliate marketing are some of them.
All my businesses put together serve over 20K+ people a month - earning both direct and indirect revenue. We have been growing at little over 10% Q-to-Q on average.
CE: How big is your customer base? Whom do you see as your potential competitors in the market? What measures do you take to maintain an edge over them?
Shiv Shenoy: While PMESN is well-established, MyPIE is in the initial stages of growth.
CE: What are the team's efforts currently focused on? Where do you see the company two years from now?
Shiv Shenoy: Right now I am in the process of completing a new Kindle series that exclusively teaches how to build a revenue-generating blogging business on the sides, while working a full time job. Anyone with any skill, interest or even a problem, and know English will be able to build a profitable blog.
The first IM product is in the making and expected in the next quarter.
Once you are online, you get global presence and global customer-base. In two years from now my focus is to be able to make a direct positive financial impact in the lives of at least 10K people.
CE: Could you please answer in less than 50 words for :
1. One tip to success:
Shiv Shenoy: Believe you can, and you will.
As Henry Ford said, “If you think you are right, you are right. And if you think you are wrong, you are right”. Even if things appear to not be in your favor, believe in yourself and give your best shot.
2. Most important lesson you have learnt:
Shiv Shenoy: Get a coach, pick a path, take action, and march on. The biggest secret of success is being able to take quick, imperfect action.
Whatever is that you want to do, the easiest way is to find someone that has done it already, and follow the steps to get similar results.
CE: Any message or word of advice to your readers?
Shiv Shenoy: In today's economy it is more important and easier than ever to create own passive-income generating online business. No matter how busy you are, take time out and invest in your business. The long term benefits - financial, psychological, and spiritual - are exponential. An year from now you may be looking back at this day and being thankful that you took action towards securing your and family's financial future. It is never, ever, too late to start.
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