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The Art and Science of Marketing – Demystifying the Startup Hustle – Part 2

The Art and Science of Marketing – Demystifying the Startup Hustle – Part 2

Welcome back to The Zista Podcast. Today we dive even deeper into the nuanced world of startup marketing. Joining us again is Dhaval Thanki, an industry stalwart with 18 years of shaping narratives in tech, digital, SAAS, and analytics, currently leading the charge as the Executive Vice President at Loginext.

This episode transcends the operational ‘how’ of marketing, delving into the strategic ‘why’ behind a startup’s success. We’ll uncover the essence of marketing that propels startups to thrive and explore the entrepreneurial mindset crucial for navigating the startup terrain.

Whether you’re gearing up to launch a startup or hungry for industry insights, this episode is a goldmine of knowledge, filled with firsthand experiences and invaluable lessons from Dhaval’s storied journey.

Welcome back to The Zista Podcast. Today, our journey into understanding the nuances of the startup ecosystem continues. As we navigate the multifaceted world of marketing, it’s essential to understand that it isn’t merely about catchy taglines or eye-grabbing graphics; it’s a strategic blend of art and science that determines the success trajectory of budding businesses.

If you tuned into our last episode, you’ll be familiar with our esteemed guest, Dhaval Thanki. With an impressive tenure of over 18 years in the tech, digital SAAS, and analytics domain, Dhaval has been at the forefront of crafting success stories for numerous startups. Currently, he’s steering the ship as the Executive Vice President at Loginext, and today, he’s back to share more of his insights.

In this episode, we’re diving deep into the very soul of marketing, uncovering its pivotal role in steering a startup towards success. With Dhaval guiding our discussion, we’ll unearth insights into why some startups thrive while others, even with compelling offerings, might struggle. It’s not merely about picking the right marketing tactics; it’s about harnessing the underlying principles that shape a startup’s visibility and resonance in the market. Moreover, we’ll tap into the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset. Drawing from his vast experience, Dhaval will highlight the mental frameworks and attitudes that define the trailblazers from the rest, providing listeners with invaluable lessons on the path to entrepreneurial success.

This isn’t just about the ‘how’ but also the ‘why’. So, whether you’re on the cusp of launching a startup, or simply seeking insights from one of the industry’s best, this episode is a goldmine of knowledge.



  • The foundational pillars of marketing include product, place, price, and promotion. However, in the digital age, a standout product can become its own best marketer, as evidenced by platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram.
  • Truly effective marketing dives deep into understanding the product, the consumer, and how best to bridge the two. This involves catching subtleties, discerning non-obvious insights, and resonating with audiences.
  • The journey of building a startup is filled with challenges. What differentiates successful entrepreneurs is their resilience and drive to challenge norms and push boundaries.
  • Genuine passion leads to conviction, which then translates to resilience. Entrepreneurs should find joy in their daily tasks and be deeply involved in their ventures, deriving satisfaction from the process, not just the outcomes.
  • While ideation is essential, it’s the execution that matters most. Turning a business concept into a tangible product or service requires relentless focus and dedication.


Q1: What is the role of marketing in the success of a startup?

A: Dhaval starts with Philip Kotler’s idea of the four P’s of marketing: “product, place, price, and promotion”. This concept was later simplified to focus mostly on the “product”. If a product is really good, it often markets itself, as seen with platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram, which grew without heavy traditional marketing.

Discussing the importance of “product”, Dhaval talks about social networks. Orkut was popular at first, but then Facebook became more dominant. The reasons behind these shifts are still debated. Even a big company like Google, with all its resources and access to users through platforms like Gmail, faced challenges in creating a successful social network. This shows the unpredictable nature of markets, timing, and perhaps even luck.

Marketing, according to Dhaval, isn’t just about promotions. It’s a mix of understanding the product, the consumer, and the best ways to connect them. Good marketing is about catching small details, understanding what might not be immediately obvious, and communicating in ways that connect with the audience. In today’s world with so much data available, it’s important to understand the different stages of a product and its users. This means identifying early users, talking with different customer groups, and using data wisely to drive decision making.


With so many ways to market today, Dhaval stresses the importance of staying focused. Instead of trying to be everywhere, it’s better to deeply understand the product and its users, and then choose the right channels to reach them.

On the financial side, Dhaval highlights the challenge of high costs to get new customers. This is especially true when products are similar, as it’s often the marketing and relationship with users that make a difference in the financial choice that consumers make. For example, most travel websites offer similar services, so users often choose based on trust and relationship. Good marketing can build this trust.

In conclusion, Dhaval emphasizes that while many marketing tools are available today, the key to success is understanding both the product and the user.  With the right strategies, startups can reduce costs, retain customers, and improve their overall business success.

Q2: What mindset should an entrepreneur cultivate to succeed?

A: Dhaval emphasizes resilience as the pivotal trait in an entrepreneur. This resilience is what separates the great from the good. Every entrepreneur, even renowned figures like Elon Musk, faced adversities. Their success is a testament to their drive to challenge existing norms, push boundaries, and bring about change. They don’t just strive for minor improvements but pursue groundbreaking value. Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line to revolutionize car production is a case in point.

Entrepreneurship is not a bed of roses. After the initial excitement of starting up wears off, the daily grind begins. However, it’s this very journey where passion becomes paramount. With genuine passion, conviction follows. This conviction translates into resilience, leading to growth and what the world perceives as ‘success’. But the ultimate goal for an entrepreneur is to find joy in what they do, day in and day out, whether that’s for days, months, or even decades. That’s the essence of entrepreneurship.

In today’s world, if you’re truly passionate about something and put your heart and soul into it, ensuring your conviction never wavers, then diving into entrepreneurship is worth it. The barriers that existed 50 years ago, when starting up was far more challenging, are mostly gone. Now, with basic tools like a laptop and the internet, starting a business is within reach.

Dhaval highlights the daily commitment to ideation, taking inspiration from Masayoshi Son who dedicates time daily to think of fresh ideas. One such idea led to the world’s first digital English dictionary. But it’s crucial to note that ideas alone aren’t enough. Dhaval cites Philip Kotler, emphasizing that customers lean towards tangible product concepts, not just abstract ideas. Turning a business idea into a concrete product is key, demanding relentless execution.

Podcast Host: Amit Ahuja, Associate Director, Communications & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Guest: Dhaval Thanki, Executive Vice President, Loginext
Video & Audio Editing: Raj Soni, Communications Associate, Zista Education
Podcast Manager: Russel Aldridge, Sr. Manager, Creative & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Transcript: Tanya Kakka, Freelance Copywriter