Meet Ishan Sharma, a 21-year-old YouTuber having more than a million followers across social media who makes videos on career, freelancing and business. He is also the co-founder of MarkitUp, a remote marketing agency with a team of 25 people providing social media marketing services to creators and startups.
Recently, Ishan co-authored a book also named, ‘Unlocking Unicorn Secrets‘ along with Kushal Lodha, a CA and founder of KAGR, an ed-tech platform in finance upskilling. The book, published by Penguin India, covers the entrepreneurial journeys of some of India’s unicorn startup founders and tries to be a guide for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Last year, Ishan earned more than 1.6 crore rupees just from YouTube and he now has several other revenue sources; his marketing agency being one of them. He even moved to a new house in Bengaluru, and also a new office space for the agency recently.
Ishan, facing the failure of not getting into IITs to becoming a successful entrepreneur and content creator earning in crores, has come a long way and his journey is really inspiring for everyone who wants to start something of their own and fulfil their dreams.
The Beginning of The Journey
Since childhood, Ishan has been interested in technology which began as playing with remote-controlled gadgets and robot-like toys. His parents, being in the field of teaching were obsessed with him passing the NTSE (National Talent Search Examination), a national-level exam conducted by NCERT for granting scholarships to meritorious students studying in class 10, but Ishan couldn’t make it.
Then, after his class 10th exams, he began to prepare for IIT JEE, the entrance exam to get into the premier engineering institutes of India, the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology). In Class 11, he shifted from Indore to Delhi and began coaching at FIITJEE. Then in class 12, he shifted from Delhi to Mumbai studying hard to clear the IIT JEE for two years but he couldn’t clear it.
This was the time in 2019 when he encountered failure for the first time and his dream to get into IIT shattered. He then appeared for VITEEE and BITSAT, somehow cleared both and chose BITS Goa where he got admission in Electrical Engineering.
In the meantime, he wanted to utilise the time before going to college to upskill himself, and motivated by Aman Dhattarwal, a content creator and educator, Ishan bought an online course about Python programming language and learnt it in a few weeks.
And when he went to the college campus, he began to explore everything available on the campus. He even started to learn about machine learning and data science frameworks, but soon got distracted and shifted to learning web development and social media management.
YouTube Success Story
In December 2019, Ishan started a podcast to interview some of the interesting people in the college, learn from them and also share that on the internet. But very few people listened to podcasts at that time and most were familiar with YouTube only, so Ishan also thought to start a YouTube channel and upload his podcasts there.
Then March 2020 came when colleges were shut down due to the pandemic, and Ishan came home from his college. And very soon he got bored with the online lectures and thought to just make videos and make the available free time useful.
Back then, Ishan used to make videos on coding, programming languages, social media and everything he was learning, along with uploading an interview podcast on weekends. He also used LinkedIn a lot, so created some videos about the same, and then the idea to create an ebook came to his mind condensing all his knowledge on how to grow on LinkedIn.
On 12 July 2020, just a day before his birthday, Ishan published his ebook ‘Crush It on LinkedIn‘ where he got a very good response. In the meantime, his YouTube work was going as usual, and even then he had some more free time which he wanted to use doing internships and learning in the real world.
After applying to different companies, he got an internship as a Facebook Ads Manager at a startup but just after five days, he resigned to focus solely on his own YouTube channel and grow it.
He also started PodInfinity, a podcasting-mentorship session comprising six classes, which didn’t grow much with a revenue of just 10,000 Rupees. He also started teaching Python programming language at Unacademy in October. And then he focused only on making videos for the channel and sharing information about coding, freelancing, social media and everything he was doing in his life.
In 2022, Ishan dropped out of his electrical engineering degree at BITS Goa to focus full-time on YouTube and his business.
Now in 2023, his YouTube channel has about a million subscribers, along with lakhs of followers on Instagram and LinkedIn. Last year, Ishan earned more than 1.6 crore rupees through YouTube AdSense and brand sponsorships combined. In addition to this, he has many more earning sources among which his marketing agency contributes a significant chunk of the overall revenue.
Startup Story of MarkitUp Agency
Looking at his video presentation skills on YouTube, Ishan was being reached out by many startup founders and companies since August-September 2020, to work for their social media marketing, especially YouTube video marketing.
He even started making videos for AbleJobs, GeeksforGeeks, and Leap Scholar; and then thought to start an agency and work for many clients and not just for one or two.
At the same time, Ishan was approached by his roommate, Saransh Anand and they both co-founded MarkitUp in February 2021. As his YouTube channel had lakhs of subscribers, Ishan uploaded a video about the launch of his agency and through that, he got a client from the very first day.
Today, MarkitUp has grown to a 25-person team and some freelancers working with 30+ clients providing services like social media management, video content marketing, graphic designing, video editing, and social media consulting. And last year in 2022, MarkitUp made a revenue of more than a crore rupees.
Unlocking Unicorn Secrets
The idea of the book ‘Unlocking Unicorn Secrets‘ co-authored by Ishan Sharma was approached to him by Kushal Lodha, the co-author of the book, who is a CA and founder of KAGR, an online upskilling platform in the finance segment.
It took 400 emails, 455 days, 15 flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru and interviews with founders of about 20 unicorn startups to author this book which is kind of a beginner’s guide to starting up.
The book, published by Penguin India, covers themes such as thinking of an idea, finding a co-founder, building out the minimum viable product (MVP), setting up the founding team, raising funds and scaling the business, among others.
It covers the entrepreneurial journeys of the founders of unicorn startups like Zerodha, Razorpay, OYO Rooms, Policybazaar, Sharechat, Vedantu, Dailyhunt, Oxyzo, Groww, CarDekho, Pristyn Care, FirstCry, Cars24 and many more sharing about the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
Talking about his journey, Ishan says, “Anything is possible. You do not need to follow the set lanes.” When he started content creation on YouTube back in his college, he was trolled and made fun of, but he never thought about those people and today he is an inspiration for many young creators and everyone who wants to make something big on their own.