CoinDCX's Minal Thukral delivers growth lessons from scaling India's first crypto unicorn

On Day 3 of TechSparks 2021, Minal Thukral, Executive VP - Growth and Strategy at CoinDCX, gives a growth masterclass with first-hand lessons from scaling India's first crypto unicorn.
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Positioning itself as India's safest cryptocurrency exchange, CoinDCX is India’s first crypto startup. Its massive liquidity, powerful wallet, and impenetrable security make the trading experience fast, reliable, and effortless.

The crypto unicorn also provides spot, margin, futures, and fiat-to-crypto trades, making it an inclusive ecosystem for all types of traders. 

While Minal believes there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for growth, he drew upon Peter Thiel’s description of the startup lifecycle, where the zero to one stage was all about cracking the product-market-fit.

The one to ten stage was the time to push the pedal on growth, and the 10 to 100 stage was about focussing on revenue and profitability.

“Depending upon the stage that you are at, the growth strategy you apply to scale, your business would differ a lot,” he said.

“If you are in your zero to one phase, you would want to focus on building your product as fast as you can, and taking it out to a niche customer base as soon as you can, take their feedback, reiterate, build fast, go back to the customers, and have that loop going on and on until you actually achieve product-market fit,” he added.

Talking about growth, once a significant customer base is achieved, he said, “Once your customer experience, which you can measure by metrics like NPS, etc., are in good shape, is when you essentially start thinking about building your 10 to 100 journey.” 

“It is now essentially about focusing a bit more on PNL because, at the end of the day, we are all running ventures, but we are here to also create profitable businesses,” he added.

Non-negotiables on a growth journey

Minal called out seven non-negotiables for a great growth journey, which include — having an original idea, a great team, timing and belief, a business model, ruthless execution, distribution channels, and last but not least, thinking big.

“Be ruthless with your execution,” he advises.

“In the startup world, what build today can also really be copied fast, right?’ he asked, citing the instance of how Snapchat introduced stories, but Facebook and Instagram adopted the feature across their ecosystems. 

Growth is fundamentally a mindset change

“I think growth happens when you bring together the entire lifecycle of a user in a single view,” said Minal, talking about the mindset change of users from awareness to acquisition, activation, retention and revenue in a single funnel or lifecycle approach.

“If you traditionally think of marketing teams, they would typically be focused on acquiring users, on signups and downloads, while product teams would be primarily focused on getting users to experience value activation or making sure they are able to retain those users. However, when product growth and marketing are sorts of sitting in these silos, it becomes difficult for all of them, or all the efforts they're putting into sorts of come together, and ultimately, help us achieve the kind of growth trajectory or the growth metric you want,” he added.

Growth lessons on building Coin DCX

In March 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, and barely 3.5 years after it was launched, CoinDCX became the first crypto startup to enter the unicorn club.

With over 3.5 million users, it aims to make crypto more accessible in India and accelerate its efforts of bringing 50 million Indians into the crypto fold.

Before deciding on the right strategy for CoinDCX and fortifying its retention strategy, Minal introduced a product-market-fit survey for CoinDCX customers to understand what percentage of users would be disappointed if they could no longer use the product. Anything above 40 percent meant they were good to push the pedal on growth. And hearteningly, CoinDCX came in at around a healthy 65 percent, while retention numbers were in the range of 40 percent.

Knowing that the strategy was on the right path, Minal spoke of how CoinDXC doubled down on its growth strategy.

“We were ruthlessly aggressive, kept experimenting, and made sure our marketing, product, growth analytics, and customer experience all came together to realise business growth,” he said. He added all the mentioned CoinDCX teams owned key KPIs across the user lifecycle.

Learning from your churn users

Minal also spoke about how ex-customers represented a huge opportunity to improve business growth.

“Reducing churn is a massively important undertaking for most of us. But no matter how hard you work at it, you’re still going to lose some customers. And if you want to succeed, you’ll need to learn how to leverage that churn into making your business better,” he said.

“Understand why people are churning. Talk to them, so that you can fill in those gaps as you continue in your product movement, or product growth moving forward, and potentially, not lose those customers going forward,” he advised.

“If you can retain your customers, make sure you can optimise on your revenue. When you optimise, you are charging your users for the value of delivering, and you will stay competitive,” he added.

“The entire effort you have put across from acquiring a user to activating them to retain them, realising revenue from them, and ultimately, providing a very good experience, can help you convert your product into an acquisition engine,” he said.

“We have acquired millions of users, millions of portfolios, which was our Northstar broadly for the last few years. We have realised brilliant volumes and closed close to $10 billion transaction volume over the last quarter, which is a leading indicator of a successful growth strategy,” he said, signing off.


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Edited by Suman Singh

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