Hong Kong based, Indian woman entrepreneur’s venture gets chosen for 500 Startups Accelerator Programme
Even as a kid, Yosha Gupta loved organising and taking the lead on situations. Hailing from a small town in Aligarh, she says business was the only thing she saw happening while growing up. Even when she entered her first job she always knew she wanted to start something of her own.
Therefore, she shifted roles between different companies at different lifecycles of their business to understand more. And eight years back, when India was just getting introduced to the startup culture, she dared to join one. Today, a 33-year-old Yosha laughs when she remembers that her age was the factor that pushed her more to venture out into something new. She was pushed by the idea to start soon before it’s too late.
Thus, Lafalafa.com came to be. Officially launched in January 2015, the venture is an online coupon and cashback selling portal. Launching their mobile app in April 2015, the firm operates from Gurgaon and Hong Kong.
On the name of the startup, Yosha says:
“My friend who is a radio jockey helped me finalise the name. We wanted something which was catchy but most importantly we were looking at something which invokes the happy feeling in people after saving money. It’s more like ‘laugh away to maximum savings’.”
Batch 15 for 500 Startups
The company recently got selected for 500 Startups Accelerator Programme. Speaking exclusively to YourStory on the accelerator programme, Yosha tells us that there were a couple of interviews before getting shortlisted. The criterion for getting selected was not just the potential of the idea but also the size of the addressable market accompanied by the traction gained by a firm.
Yosha explains that the accelerator will not just provide her company with access to a strong network but also provide mentorship from the who’s who at Silicon Valley. This will help them not just learn from the innovation happening around but also help raise funds in the future. Yosha says
“For a business like ours, scaling is not just the only requisite. Innovation plays a major role in defining how we get more users to utilise cashbacks and discounts on our platform. And we can’t wait to get to Mountain View to learn from the best minds of the industry.”
As a part of the programme, the firm will receive a seed investment of USD 1,25,000 and get to spend four months in Mountain View.
The firm also claims to be one of the few Indian mobile startups chosen for Facebook's Global FB Start programme to provide recognition and promotion to good mobile apps. As part of the recognition, they have been given access to USD 30,000-worth of credit across tools like Facebook advertising, Parse credits for push notifications etc.
Lafalafa.com is closing approximately 1,000 transactions on an average every month. It has an active network of more than 500 partners including all e-commerce platforms and most Indian hyperlocal startups. It claims to be the only cashback business with significant corporate tieups like WeChat and Aircel for real-time mobile recharge as a redemption option.
Since its launch in April, the company’s application has already touched 3,00,000 downloads. It also claims to be driving a GMV of Rs two crore every month for partner e-commerce stores like Flipkart, Paytm, Snapdeal and Amazon.
Like most cashback websites, Lafalafa.com’s revenue comes from commission on driving transactions. For high-end products like fashion apparels, the commission ranges from 20-25 per cent while for electronics it can be three to five per cent.
Moving forward, the firm plans to create a healthy balance between the demand (partners) and supply side (customers).
Yosha tells us that on the supply side, their audience right now comprises of tech-savvy individuals having time to look for cashback. However, the company plans to change the same expanding its audience base. By the middle of next month, the firm is planning to launch ‘Conversational Commerce’ which will include a personal deal manager to guide individuals on the best available offers in the market.
While looking at the demand, Lafalafa is striving to bring exclusive offers and partnerships to its users. Out of the active network of partners, Freecharge and Shopclues are some of the few which exclusively provide cashback and discounts on their portals. They are also looking at bringing hyperlocal delivery startup like Grofers on board in a couple of days.
Yosha tells us
“The aim is go beyond and provide cashback and discounts on possibly anything customers would like to save upon. “
Lafalafa is also actively looking at targeting recommendation of offers based on user preferences, thereby making the customer experience truly seamless and personalised.
Though still not decided upon, the founder doesn’t rule out geographical expansion. She says that the company is evaluating Indonesian and Vietnamese markets for possible expansion next year.
Going strong with its high-strung partnerships, Lafalafa.com seems to be doing something interesting by roping in hyperlocal startups in the race. With newer startups coming up, this increases the purview and scope of what could be brought under the discounting or cashback ecosystem.
Industry insiders claim the affiliate or performance marketing space is growing at 500 per cent over the next couple of years. Thus, with this segment here to stay, it will be interesting what innovation companies deal and couponing businesses like Groupon India, Pennyful, Encashit Mydala, Coupondunia and Cashkaro will bring in to rope in more customers.