How GoPaisa found a loyal customer base in women from non-metro cities during the pandemic

As Gurugram-based startup GoPaisa navigated the market during the pandemic, online learning, gaming, and entertainment contributed to 30 percent of its annual revenue.
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For most Indians, online shopping became a necessity during the pandemic. As a result, almost every other business either has an online presence or is looking to enter the ecommerce space.  

With a major boost from the pandemic, the digital commerce market is expected to grow 84 percent and reach $111 billion by 2024, according to the 2021 Global Payments Report.

And fuelling this economy is the cashback and coupon economy, where Gurugram-based GoPaisais a key player with over three million registered users onboard.

Ankita Jain, Co-founder and marketing head, GoPaisa

Unlocking new customers

According to Ankita Jain, Co-founder and marketing head of GoPaisa, it is among a handful of startups that felt a positive boost from coronavirus-induced lockdowns and social restrictions, despite initial hiccups in delivery and logistics. 

The entrepreneur says it has brought up a new category of digital products, after years of focussing on the traditional market. The digital products comprises mainly education services through platforms like Udemy and Coursera; online gaming like Rummy, Poker, and Ludo; and entertainment through magazine subscriptions and major OTT players.

Ankita claims that these digital products have contributed to 30 percent of the startup’s net revenue in the financial year ending March 2021. The startup, which earns commission from sales and not traction, clocked an annual revenue of Rs 15 crore in FY 2020-21. In the coming year, the digital products are expected to register monthly revenue of Rs 3 crore.

Other players in the cashback economy like CashKaro also benefited from the boom of online services like OTT and edtech during the pandemic.  

“This category, which did not exist pre-pandemic, is showing great potential as people spend more time online during the pandemic with many looking to upskill themselves,” she adds.

Notably, the startup is witnessing more women from Tier III cities and smaller towns looking to upskill themselves at an affordable rate with the cashback and coupon service, with content writing and basic knowledge of excel sheet being the two most popular courses.

Ankita says they are tapping the opportunity to join the workforce as remote working becomes the new norm. It allows women to pursue their professional goals and attain financial independence, while continuing their household responsibilities. While most women initially log in to do grocery and other shopping on GoPaisa, she says the platform has exposed them to affordable learning as they onboarded edtech brands during the pandemic.

“A mother from my hometown, Surat, took a course on content writing and is now looking for opportunities online to contribute to the family’s expenses without having to leave her child at home,” Ankita recalls. 

The entrepreneur says upskilling women has now become an issue close to her heart as a mother who had to resume her entrepreneurial duties when her daughter was just 40-days-old. 

The entrepreneur notes that while women customers take time to adapt, they show much higher returning rates than men.

Marketing for non-metro

Targeting markets beyond the metro cities meant a need for change in its marketing tactics. 

Ankita, who also heads the startup’s marketing efforts, says they wanted to tap into regional sentiments and collaborated with micro influencers who can deliver content that is relatable to audiences in specific regions like West Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, among others.

“We could have reached out to mainstream influencers with bigger following and reach, but they have attained a certain celebrity status and are not as relatable to people in Tier II and III cities. Instead, we chose to go ahead with native and micro-influencers with a keen audience in smaller cities,” she explains.

Eying new market

At present, the product and offer aggregator platform is on a hiring spree to double its workforce and is setting the stage for international expansion, beginning with the APAC region, and is teasing with a couple of new products in the pipeline. 

Just a year shy of becoming a decade-old startup, Ankita says remaining a bootstrapped startup without an investor name to boast of is a challenge at this stage. GoPaisa claims to be open to investors who can bring more than just money to the table.

“However, our vision has always been clear - to prioritise sustainable growth with a focus on profitability than valuation. The ecommerce market tends to undermine us as a bootstrapped venture but the pandemic has shown it is survival of the fittest and we have always proved it with numbers and growth monthly and annually,” she explains.

Edited by Megha Reddy