Startup Cashkaro: From UK to India, testing the cashback waters worldwide

cashkaro logoAsk any eCommerce entrepreneur and a common woe that all have is the changing and price sensitive Indian consumer. The average online shopper today has also become smart and there are many online resources he can consult before he makes the final purchase. One popular phenomenon is online deals and cashback; the simplest form of affiliate marketing. And the startup we feature today, Cashkaro is one such player in the Indian eCommerce market.

With Cashkaro, one can save on regular online purchases like flight tickets, hotel booking, clothes, mobile recharge, bus tickets and more. Cashkaro has tied up with over 150 top Indian brands like Yatra, Myntra, Freecharge, Jabong and Goodlife. For every customer that Cashkaro brings to these sites, it is paid a commission which it passes back to the user as a “cashback”. For example, just by visiting Jet Airways via cashkaro.com, users get at least Rs 260 cashback every time. So you still shop at the same Jet Airways website and pay exactly the same, but now because you have made your purchase through Cashkaro, you get extra savings.

In addition, many brands also share exclusive coupon codes with Cashkaro that allow users to save more. Cashkaro’s model is unique because it offers cashback in addition to coupon savings. For example, say there is a 20% coupon at Jabong, not only do you get this discount, but you get an additional 6% cashback.

From UK to India: Pouring Pounds & Cashkaro

Rohan & SwatiBefore they started Cashkaro, the husband-wife duo of Rohan and Swati Bhargava, both graduates from London School of Economics, started Pouring Pounds, the English version of Cashkaro. And before turning entrepreneur Rohan worked in hedge fund & asset management industry in London while, Swati was an employee at Goldman Sachs. But, when the entrepreneurial bug bit them, there was nothing to stop Rohan and Swati. They quit their jobs to start Pouring Pounds. They found their techy partner in Arumainathan Kaliyaperumal, who comes with over a decade’s years experience in the IT sector.

Pouring Pounds started its UK operations in 2011. “At that time daily deal sites had been very successful, but we wanted to find a solution where users can get discounts on their day-to-day shopping. So we started to partner with sites like Tesco, M&S, Debenhams to address this gap in the market. In the UK we now work with over 2,500 top brands across all verticals,” says Rohan.

India market opportunity

Rohan is betting hugely on the Indian eCommerce startups (even we love them). He feels the Indian online market is dominated by travel websites but predicts a rise in Indians buying daily products online. Deals and cashback shall play an important role in the eCommerce market. And today many eCommerce sites who want to acquire more customers can associate with Cashkaro for customer acquistion. Sites like Myntra and Jabong have used this strategy successfully in the past. “As we have seen in mature markets like the UK, deals have become integral to how people shop online and we believe the same shall happen in India,” says Rohan.

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The India Challenge

Rohan feels what has worked for them in the UK shall work here too, but understands and acknowleges the efforts needed in the Indian market. As cashback is a new concept in India, the key challenge comes in making users aware of the concept. And once they have an understanding of the concept, Rohan expects the numbers to start coming. Therefore top priority for Cashkaro right now is to spread awareness about their venture. Cashkaro is different from coupon sites as the value proposition to users is greater. “Not only do we offer coupons, we give users cashback on top. So for example, on Myntra we might have a 40% coupon and offer you Rs 150 cashback on top,” he adds.

Hiring the right individuals has also been a key challenge for him and Cashkaro’s continues in its search searching for senior developers and marketing experts.

Social media – an important tool for business

If as an entrepreneur, your only real estate is your website, then Rohan says you need to put in smart efforts to promote it as well. Rohan suggests using LinkedIn for promotional activities. Cashkaro has managed to tie-up with a lot of companies via LinkedIn and according to Rohan, LinkedIn has been an important channel to reach CEOs and key decision makers of across businesses.


Shyamal Dave

Shyamal Dave

A wanderer in the startup space, Shyamal is currently managing a management degree at MICA. In the recent past he extended his interested in social media to game marketing. Talk with him about writing, art, social media, design, startups @duckingfesigner