Armed with an IIT and IIM Degree, Pranay Chulet is set on dominating the Local Commerce in India with his venture Quikr.Please tell us about your background prior to starting Quikr and what led to the business idea?
My background is a mix of strategy consulting and entrepreneurship, and has ranged from stints at firms like Booz & Co and Mitchell Madison Group to building a couple of ventures from grounds up. I went to IIT Delhi and IIM Calcutta, and then spent over a decade in the US where I saw the rise of digital media from its very early days, both as an advisor to large media companies and as an entrepreneur. One of the greatest examples of the impact of digital media is Craigslist which came from nowhere and became the phenomenon it is today. That sort of answers the question “why Quikr”. Because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. If Craigslist could come to dominate local commerce in the US where most people have credit cards and could also directly buy things online, there is no reason why a platform like Quikr should not be able to dominate local commerce in India where anyway most people don’t have credit cards and/or shy away from pure online purchases. History shows that classifieds businesses grow as societies become affluent and purchase cycles get shorter, so it’s an exciting time to be in this business in India.
What differentiates Quikr in the market?
We lead the market in terms of not just quantity but also quality. In quantitative terms, we are the only broad classifieds player in India that has 10 million visitors a month. But equally importantly, our quality of ads as well as the responses we generate for these ads is far superior. Ultimately, this leads to the highest number of successful transactions which is the ultimate measure of the success of a classifieds website. Behind all this is the best team in business – the team brings a great understanding of the Indian market as well as a deep sense of possibilities from their global exposure. And last but not the least, we have the patience and the resources needed to be able to capture an opportunity of this size.
What are the barriers to entries?
The differentiators mentioned above together lead to the ultimate entry barrier in this business which is the highest number of buyers and sellers. These two factors always multiply each other – the more the number of sellers, the higher the number of buyers you get, which further attracts more sellers to the platform. And once you go into that kind of virtuous circle, it is very difficult for anyone to dislodge you.
What are the challenges you have faced so far? What are you doing to deal with them?
Retaining the simplicity of the site and improving user experience as the scale of users as the business grows is a challenge we face as a result of our growth. Therein also lies the opportunity to create and innovative solutions that can make life easier for every Quikr user through interesting features and applications that don’t compromise the simplicity of usage. Another challenge is expanding the market itself by reaching out to those who are not using digital classifieds today and proving to them the value of this medium. We are a large country with a large population, and online classifieds have an enormous room to grow as this challenge gets addressed in the coming days.
Please tell us something about the Technology
That’s a bit of a secret sauce and can’t talk much about that :-) Way too many people think that a classifieds platform is something simple to hack together, that all you need is a post-ad page and a reply-to-ad page. You can do a lot more than that with technology in this business, but we absolutely don’t mind if the world continues to think that way. There’s a reason we get the highest number of visitors and transactions in the market. It hasn’t happened just by us wishing it would!
Is Quikr self-funded or bootstrapped?
Quikr is funded by some of the best names in business – we have Matrix Partners, Omidyar Network, Norwest Venture Partners and eBay amongst our shareholders.
Pranay is an entrepreneur who knows his game plan well and is executing it with panache. With Quikr becoming a known name in the Indian online space, we know we have our very own Craiglist.
While we will follow the Quikr story closely, you tell us your views.