Meet Sameer Grover whose startup idea was born in a café in Delhi in early 2014 while sipping coffee with a friend. What’s different about his story is that he managed to build a product based on the instant feedback from his potential customers right there.
“We decided to talk to some customers right there at the café to validate the idea. We asked them if they would be interested in a free coffee or discount at the café on their next visit. They dismissed us – saying they don’t care about such offers,” says Sameer.
However, one customer called Sameer back and said, “If you offered me free talktime, then I will definitely come back here again. I can even go to the other café instead of this one if you do that. This prompted Sameer to create a blueprint for an app which could do this. That’s how Crown-it was born.
Crown-it (pronounced ‘crown it’), was launched in July, 2014. The name originates from childhood game of collecting crowns of cola bottles to get free gifts. Crown-it app lets customers collect crowns from local businesses in the form of cashback. And they use the cashback to redeem for goodies like online shopping, movie tickets and talktime.
“We went a step further. We offer online shopping and movie tickets besides talktime. And now also donations to charities, which is a big hit,” adds Sameer.
Sameer is a BE from Delhi College of Engineering and has had extensive experience creating and marketing software products for large enterprises as well as small & medium businesses in the US and India. He returned from the US in 2005 and worked in leadership positions with startups like Apollo Health Street, MphRx and Knowlarity.
Earlier in his career, Sameer worked in R&D for Epic Systems Corporation in Wisconsin for over six years. The Gurgaon-based app raised couple of rounds of angel funding between March, 2014, and July, 2014, and had no struggle in doing so. “The investors loved the idea as we had a compelling product and showed early traction,” says Sameer.
Operational in Gurgaon only so far, Crown-it has built a committed customer club of 25,000 users in a few months. “90% of these have come through referrals. We give cash back at over 1000 places in Gurgaon,” says Sameer. As of now the app has driven over Rs.4 crore of business in Gurgaon in four months. “At present, we drive Rs. 1.5 crore business monthly,” he adds.
Crown-it makes revenue via commission it charges for driving business for the outlets. Pointing out the DNA of the app, Sameer says, “We are an online-to-offline company. Our core proposition is to drive customers for fragmented businesses. We will continue to target retail stores across India in the next three-four years across multiple categories like restaurants, bars, groceries, salons among others,” says Sameer.
By 2018, the app plans to have presence in 25 cities in India. “We will have 2 crore members and will be driving GMV of Rs.600 crore monthly at that time across all categories,” concludes Sameer. He is in active discussion of raising Series-A which will help Crown-it expand into four major cities this year.
More : Crown-it App