The idea for his startup came to Navish Jain when the message ‘SOLD: 2005 Honda Civic’ flashed on his computer screen at his workplace Cisco in the US. The company had an internal emailer list, where employees posted information on used items they wanted to buy or sell from other Cisco employees. Additionally, friends from other companies requested their ads to be cross posted in the company’s mailer list and vice versa.
So the need for an inter-company classifieds platform, where users are identified based on their employer but without any professional or personal information being revealed pushed Navish to launch Cirtru.
Posting an ad on Cirtru involves two simple steps: enter the ad details and then identify the user. We identify users based on their work email but we do not display or share it. It remains hidden and private. We also make anonymous their personal email address because we know that user privacy plays a critical role in classifieds.
According to Navish, Cirtru saw one lakh page views last month, as they were focusing on brand awareness more than conversion. The startup has achieved a user base of more than 750 companies and universities so far.
He is not too sure on the number of transactions that happen per month on Cirtru, as he says it is hard to track offline activities like car selling, finalising roommates and other activities.
How did the journey begin?
Navish longed to launch Cirtru in US but it was not possible for him to do so without having a green card. He kept waiting for the green card that unfortunately never came. Meanwhile, he met with two life-changing incidents: he lost his father and he was blessed with a baby boy. This was when he decided to return to India.
After moving back to India, I tried a couple of gigs and then I pulled myself together and got into Cirtru. The only thing that remains constant and should remain constant is the passion to solve a real problem. Cirtru is based out of Mumbai and, currently, we have a team of three people.
Online classifieds market in India
Online classifieds market in India is very young compared to the US. The recent surge in India’s internet penetration has fuelled the growth of online classifieds but there is still a long way to go.
The biggest challenges in online classifieds market are monetisation and profitability whereas the opportunity lies in building niche, be it around verticals or user segment.
On competition, Navish says they are not competing directly against other classifieds players. Cirtru builds classifieds for professionals and students. He has compared his business model with Airbnb's: just as how Airbnb took the vacation-rental vertical out of existing players, Cirtru is taking a user segment out of existing players.
It's time to gain traction
In India, many companies do not even have intra-company platforms for employees to buy and sell items. Cirtru has received a good number of requests from startups looking to build an intra-company platform to enable classifieds and forums.
Based on the initial reaction from users, Navish observed that for USA, the inter-company classifieds model gained significant traction in the past few months. But, India requires both models - inter-company classifieds and intra-company social network, which will ultimately help users move towards inter-company classifieds.
In the next six to twelve months, our focus is to launch Cirtru in other metro cities and simultaneously add more companies and startups for our intra-company social network product.
- online classifieds
- Cisco Systems
- Classified advertising
- intra-company social network product
- Navish Jain