Neeraj Jain and Surjendu Kuila are both engineers and IIM almuni who came together in 2011 to make a mark in the online product discovery space. Together they have close to two decades of work experience and while doing their research, found a gap with product discovery within e-commerce. “Everyone was doing e-commerce back in 2011, we recognized the need for a way to discover good products in this crowded space and started Reviews42,” says Neeraj. Reviews42 aims to be a comprehensive product research tool that provides product discovery, price comparison, user reviews and expert opinions to retail shoppers.
The company initially raised a seed round from Blume Ventures and VentureEast post which it raised a Series A in 2013 from Nirvana Venture Advisors and Rahul Khanna of Canaan Partners. Reviews42 scans more than a 1000 e-commerce websites to come up with suggestions and reviews. Starting out with the web, the company realized somewhere last year that their traction is coming from mobile. They started focusing more on their apps (all platforms -- Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry) and saw positive results soon. The Reviews42 app has seen more than three lakh downloads till now.
“An average user uses the app almost five times a month,” says Neeraj. User engagement is not the typical metric here owing to the nature of the app. The one thing that has been working for Reviews42 is the 'find nearby stores' option wherein users can look for stores around them and find the product they're looking for. The founders believe the typical use case for Reviews42 app is when someone is shopping offline (or online) and wants to quickly check online/offline prices and user reviews before buying.
The space is very competitive with the likes of Sequoia-backed PriceDekho, MySmartPrice, FindYogi, PriceBaba, etc. Talking about the space, Naman Sarawagi, founder of FindYogi says, “There is a partial overlap in terms that we both are targeting consumers who are in pre-purchase phase. The market is definitely crowded with almost every player making good money to keep themselves afloat and then some. Though only few are solving some problem. Price comparison alone is only a monetization engine, there has to be a bigger product/solution that is win-win-win for the product maker, consumers and merchants." FindYogi is also trying out various things of which their P2P Buying Advise Platform has attracted good traction.
We spoke to Karthik Reddy of Blume Ventures who have invested in the company and he tells us, "In the era of cross channel retail, with trends such as ROPO (research online, buy offline) , Showrooming becoming the norm, product discovery would evolve into a necessity for a consumer. Reviews42 is rapidly developing the most comprehensive base for all three offerings - product discovery, merchant discovery and price discovery - both online & local." And this is where most of the companies in this space are converging towards. "With the foraying into the offline space with their RISE platform, Reviews42 is actually facilitating product/price and merchant discovery in the truest sense. This is not a trivial problem to solve and in our opinion, they are furthest along on that path today, in India," adds Karthik.
Reviews42 is currently a team of close to 30 with most of them in the technology team. The focus as of now is to push further with their apps and the company might look to raise another round in about six to seven months.