Freecharge, one of the most popular online recharge sites in India started out with recharge for only mobiles but has expanded and offers recharge for TV and Data Cards as well. Freecharge was at the forefront of the ‘coupon revolution’ that took India by storm and also raised INR 20 crores from Sequoia in January 2012. We earlier got in touch with founder Kunal Shah, for an interview to learn the plans for Freecharge and here we get in a tete-a-tete with him to know his lighter side.
Kunal, founder and CEO of Freecharge.in has a rather unexpected academic background- BA, Philosophy and MBA – Dropout! Not someone you’d associate with a huge VC backing in India. A refreshing change, to say the least! At the beginning, Kunal founded a BPO company and scaled to 1200 people before taking Freecharge to the scale it has.
YS: So, what made you take the lunge into entrepreneurship?
Kunal: I always had the burning desire to do something on my own. After I got out of the Mortgage and EMI loops during initials of doing a job decided to take the jump.
YS: You had other businesses as well. Are you still handling them?
Kunal: I don’t. I focus on Freecharge. Paisaback is on backburner now.
YS: Views on work-life balance.
Kunal: I believe work-life is a nice-to-have state for any entrepreneur. But truly believe for any great innovation or breakthrough it needs a dedicated few years where no such balance is possible.
YS: What does your family feel about your jump into entrepreneurship?
Kunal: Well, I was the only one in my family who did a job, so they are happy and elated to see me take the entrepreneurship journey! (laughs)
YS: How big is the team at Freecharge? How do you maintain the work culture in office?
Kunal: We are 60 of us. We believe in a fun way of working and try to keep the environment as easy as possible. However, we all work very hard as we are all running towards a common goal.
YS: Are Sundays off for you?
Kunal: Technically, even Saturdays are, but I can’t remember many weekends in last 2 years that we have not been working J
YS: Do you consider social media to be an addiction? How savvy are you?
Kunal: Not really, I don’t think that I am addicted at least. These are nice tools to stay in touch and learn about the market developments.
YS: What are you views on online/offline media?
Kunal: I believe India is going to be heavily bent towards offline media till online media starts showing major results for the marketers. I also believe the lack of performance tracking in the world of offline media allows marketers to get away with poor performing campaigns and demonstrate disproportionate reach. Brand building will continue to happen offline, but a lot of performance campaigns will have no choice but to move to online.
YS: What phone connection do you have?
Kunal: I keep sim cards of all operators as I am the official tester of Freecharge as well
Favourtie movie: Memento
Book: Goals – Brian Tracy