[Startup Bharat] Allahabad-based cashback company CashCry is wooing consumers with real money rewards
The rise – and rise – of online shopping has led to a spurt in the growth of India’s cashback and coupons’ marketplace.
But Allahabad-based Bhanu Pratap Singh, 25, and Harshit Singh, 27, felt it was unfair for users to only be given “coins” or “rewards”, which led to the launch of a cashback startup that aims to do just that: give cash back so it can be transferred into a consumer’s bank account.
Bhanu Pratap Singh, Co-founder and CEO, saysaims to organise India’s massive retail sector into a digital utopia where customers can find any product or service at their will along with getting added discounts and cashbacks on all their purchases.
“Apart from this, we are looking to provide the ever-price-conscious Indian consumer with the best deals, which online shoppers are always looking for,” he says.
CashCry is built on the thesis that the major deciding factors for a buyer are discounts, deals, quality, and options, and is riding on the booming online shopping industry.
The startup was launched in 2019 under parent company Broadbuy Technovative Solutions, with the final product going live only in April this year.
“We were making iterations and the pandemic posed challenges as well,” says Bhanu, adding that he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug while pursuing his graduation in commerce. “I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug ever since I heard about Elon Musk.”
In 2018, Bhanu realised that more and more people were buying things online, and “constantly looking for the best deals, cheaper alternatives, and referral codes” to gain cash benefits. He was confident about the growth of online shopping, and this led him to create a platform that could simplify online shopping and help consumers get a direct benefit.
CashCry got a kickstart when Bhanu met Indrasen Singh, Chairman of the institute where he was preparing for a finance course, who became an early investor and mentor of CashCry. His son, Harshit, also joined in as a co-founder.
The idea was initially incubated at IIM Kashipur for three months, and, with an initial capital of Rs 5 lakh from friends and family, Harshit and Bhanu formally launched CashCry in mid-2019.
In its early days, the platform focused only on cashbacks, which were provided from the referral fee the company would get from ecommerce platforms.
But soon, the duo added more features and tools like price comparisons, offline retailers, gift cards etc to make it a “central place for online shopping from sites like Amazon, Flipkart, Ajio, Fab India, Mamaearth, and so on”.
Now, CashCry has more than 150 offline retailer partners such as Bata, Jawed Habib, and others where customers get discounted deals.
How does it work? Open the CashCry app and visit your favourite site - Flipkart, Amazon, etc – and shop as usual. CashCry is paid a referral fee from these websites, and it passes on this amount to the user as cashback.
Eventually, Harshit also went on to pursue his academic aspiration, making CashCry his side hustle (he pursued MBA and took up a job). Bhanu is working on the venture full time.
The co-founders chose Allahabad – their home town - as their headquarters in a bid to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in small-town India.
The business model
CashCry earns from affiliate marketing. The amount which it gives to the user as cashback is a percentage of a referral fee the startup earns from ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart.
Bhanu says the company transfers as much as 90 percent of that amount to the buyer and retains the rest to invest into business support operations.
CashCry claims to have completed a total Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of more than Rs 3 crore with total transactions amounting to 18,000. The founders claim that app has been downloaded more than 12,000 times across India.
“We have given almost Rs 8 lakh as cashbacks so far,” Bhanu says.
CashCry has registered revenues of Rs 12 lakh so far, and aims to grow this figure multifold by next year.
Market and the competition
According to a report by Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) India and media agency GroupM India, as many as 500 million Indians will be shopping online by 2030, up from the current 150 million, as the internet reaches a vast swathe of the country’s population.
The report says the number of Indian internet users will expand from the current 622 million to 900 million by 2025. With affordable data prices, consumers are increasingly becoming more digital, and the online retail market is set to expand threefold in the next four to five years.
Bhanu says CashCry is bullish on this market, adding that “the opportunity is much larger than this”.
CashCry competes with players like CashKaro, CouponDunia, Nearbuy, and PaisaWapas. Bengaluru-based cashback and rewards startup Happy Credit, which runs an app-based cashback system that rewards users on their ecommerce purchases on 50+ merchant platforms, is also a competitor – especially as it is targeting Bharat.
But, Bhanu says, it stands out for solving a major problem – “indecision”.
“Consumers looking to save as much money as possible end up either abandoning the cost optimisation effort altogether or finding a sub-optimal price point. This is where CashCry comes in.
“We don’t just provide cost comparison across all major websites; we also provide extra cashbacks, coupons, and gift cards if you choose our platform for the purchase. Any and all cashbacks and discounts are added to your account, and can be easily transferred to your bank account with a swipe,” Bhanu says.
Funding and future plans
CashCry has so far got financial support of about Rs 15 lakh from the UP Government’s StartUp Incubation Programme, and friends and family.
The startup is now looking to penetrate deeper in offline and online segments across sectors, and aims to raise funding of Rs 2 crore to support its expansion plans.
Bhanu feels the opportunity for cashback-focused startups is “immense” with the ever-growing ecommerce industry in India, “especially with next billion users joining the online shopping brigade”.