Tanveer Ubhi is the definition of a small Canadian business owner. He built his company from the ground up, through connections he worked hard to build. Before he started his own marketing agency, he worked in the retail and marketing space for over 10 years.
He worked with some of Canada's biggest companies: IBM, Canadian Tire, Loblaws, and Maple Leaf Foods. Fun fact: when he wasn’t conquering the corporate world, Tanveer spent his weekends as a drummer in the Bollywood music scene and spent 7 years touring throughout North America. While he was on the road, he built up quite the community and network of people who became close to him - this would pay dividends later on.
“I got exposed to literally our entire South Asian community,” says Tanveer. “My colleagues and friends said, ‘You've built quite a network. You always have a hookup for something or a referral for someone. Maybe this corporate world isn't for you - maybe you could do something on your own.’"
Motivated by the idea of a new adventure, Tanveer started reaching out to friends who had businesses and offered his marketing advice. He started building online strategies for companies on the side and gained perspective on whether this was something he felt he could do on his own someday. He knew that the entrepreneurial life wasn’t the same as his 9-5 comfortable paycheck, but he was intrigued by the idea.
During his transition to become a small business owner, he left the corporate world in 2015 to start a marketing agency which quickly shifted to owning an HVAC business with a partner where his primary role was marketing/operations. During this quick pitstop, he realized it was not for him and in 2018 Kick Media Group was born.
“I just realized that being creative was what I was meant to do. At that point, I felt like I really didn't have much to lose. If I'm going to take a risk, it is the best time to take that risk. Like any journey, it was painful. In the first year, you really don't have any customers. You're trying to build your own brand, trying to get your word out there. It was a slow process, but I think it's tracking the right way.”
Kicking it into gear
Today, Tanveer has built a Toronto-based marketing agency comprised of marketing specialists, graphic designers, web developers and content creators and continues to provide holistic marketing solutions to businesses of all nature. From brand management, to digital marketing and advertising, to design and print.
“Every customer is unique in terms of what their objective is. Building a marketing strategy is like a GPS - they provide the destination, then it's my job along with my team to create the roadmap, which is the strategy on how to get to your destination. So, every turn you're making, every street you're turning on, is going to be a different component that falls under marketing."
Where does the name, Kick Media Group come from? Tanveer spent three months brainstorming ideas for a meaningful name. A big part of his motivation was to make sure the name was available to purchase as a .CA domain, a .com domain and that all the social media handles were available.
“Whether your business needs a kick to get started, whether your business is stalled and you need to kick it again to get moving, or it’s a progressing company looking to accel, we’re that company that comes in and puts the wheels back in motion on your brand,” says Tanveer.
Getting online and making .CA a priority
Kickmediagroup.ca has been online since day one and Tanveer made his website a priority.
“You have to lead by example. I tried to be a bit of a hero and create my own site to save costs at the beginning, but eventually I started working with somebody who had been building websites for nearly 15 years. We eventually brought him onto the team,” says Tanveer.
Showcasing his Canadiana was a priority for Tanveer - he really values his .CA and the trustworthiness of it.
“I’m born, bred, and raised in Canada, and I’m a Canadian at heart. I play hockey and I love my Timmy's,” says Tanveer.
"A .CA domain just provides a lot more authenticity that you're a Canadian business and you're a Canadian brand. A lot of .com's get taken up, but when you're a .CA, you're registered as a Canadian business,” says Tanveer. “You know that the registrant of the .CA domain is a Canadian citizen so it doesn't get any more legitimate than that. You know you’re not going to be scammed.”
Tanveer likes to stress the importance of not soley relying on your social media platforms to market your business. Only a website that you own and control can truly be a digital hub for your business.
"Social media is great, but legitimacy online starts from a website,” says Tanveer. “Social media is the bait to hook them but they’ll always go to your website to read more if they’re serious. If you're not online, and if you don't have a website, you shouldn't be in business online," says Tanveer.
GoDaddy - “The McDonalds of purchasing your domain”
When it came to choosing a registrar for his .CA domain, he looked no further than GoDaddy.
“During those first three months of brainstorming, I was constantly putting a new name in the GoDaddy domain search to see what was available. The GoDaddy platform made it very convenient and accessible to search for my domain name. It even gives you suggestions,” says Tanveer.
Tanveer respects the work that GoDaddy does and doesn’t hesitate to recommend them to his clients.
“I credit GoDaddy for being the best marketed web service company out there. Anytime you need a domain, all you hear is GoDaddy, GoDaddy, GoDaddy. I call them the McDonald's of purchasing your domain or web services,” says Tanveer.
“And that's the beauty of marketing - it's repetition and that's how you sell. Keep throwing your name out there and when someone is ready to purchase your service, that's all they remember - your name.”
A word of wisdom to entrepreneurs
Tanveer’s advice? Be patient, stay diligent, and be ready to get out of your comfort zone.
“I had always heard it's not easy and that it takes time,” says Tanveer. “I heard that it would take a year or two years. It literally takes that long. You might get one customer after a couple of months, or a few.”
When Tanveer looks back on when he started his business he remembers how important it was to take challenges head on and be a problem solver.
“When you start a business, you literally have to wear every single department hat. You are the sales guy. You are the IT guy. You are the accountant. You are the one to create the strategy and content. You are literally doing everything at the start.”
His second piece of advice? Always remember why you started your business in the first place. Coming back to a purpose is what can ground you.
“If you're doing what you're good at, it's not going to feel like a job and I wholeheartedly believe that,” says Tanveer.
“When you are truly doing what you enjoy, it does not feel like a chore. You keep at it and that's the only way you're going to be able to do your best work - the business will follow from there. Some people discover it earlier. Some discover later. But do not settle for doing something you don't enjoy because there are a million opportunities out there in an industry you do love.”