Investor backing at an idea stage is enviable for any entrepreneur. However, it is a sign of great potential in a product, enough for an investor to part with their money in return of equity in its success in the near future. Could this be what led to the idea stage investment by Kae Capital and Mumbai Angles, of the hyper local search engine Squeakee before its public beta release? To find out, we got into a quick chat with Abrar Shaikh, founder and CEO of Squeakee.
So what is it?
It is a known fact that most of India shops at a local merchant. However the popular and proven marketing idea of deals hasn't happened at these shops in an effective way. While over the counter deductions of bills is a taken, the customer does not have knowledge of which shop has the best deal on what product.
The concept of Hyper Local Search is to provide an online platform for local merchants to advertise their offerings. Prior to this, the offers of a local Kirana would have only been known by regular customers and people living in the immediate vicinity of the shop at best. Web based solutions, such as Squeakee, allow more people to know about a local merchant at substantially lesser costs, when compared to conventional methods of advertisement.
"The kind of items that you get a deal on is crazy! When we first went to local merchants with Squeakee, it was received very well and we were having deals on rice and dal, which was amazing. There is definitely a need for local merchants to market their products and surprisingly, most of them understand the power of such a portal," says Abrar Shaikh, founder of Squeakee.
Is India Ready for Hyper Local Search?
Squeakee also provides online deals which we find to be interesting. One other startup in the Hyper Local Search space is Bangalore based startup Livechant, which also has alternate revenue models which is suggestive that a sole platform for merchants isn't economically viable yet. Furthermore, the only way to reach out to merchants is through live interactions, making marketing a very Foot-On-Soil, which takes its time to scale. As of now, Squeakee is comprehensively available in Mumbai and are slowly expanding to other parts of the country.
Team - Could this be the winning formula?
Squeakee has an impressive team at its helm. It would be fair to say that a large part of the company's current valuation lies in the experience and competence the Squeakee team brings to the table. There's Abrar, the CEO, who was one of the first employees at Komli Media and subsequently GM at Whats-On-India. Leading product is Ruchir Aswal, who has worked directly under the father of the internet in India, Ajit Balakrishnan and comes with end to end product management experience with Rediff.com. Engineering is lead by Praful Kumar, who was employee No. 5 at JustDial and Business Development is lead by Arindham Banerjee, employee No. 1 at Naukri.com.
This unique experience of being early employees of successful startups can be a key ingredient in Squeakee's success in this nascent business. But what's most striking is the team's hunger. Having been integral parts of large companies' success, each one in this team could have settled for a high post in the companies they worked for. We asked Abrar about this and he said, "The answer is simple. Having worked at successful startups only made me want to make my own successful startup! I'm very hungry that way."
With adequate financial backing and an able team, Squeakee is well equipped to capitalize on this unexplored market. However, the devil is in the detail. Will Squeakee spot and rectify it as it comes? Only time will tell.
Check out Squeakee and tell us what you think.