Startup Sunday || Season 4 Episode 26 || Shop Nani

In the times when it is all about Technology, a young Entrepreneurial enthusiast comes up with an innovative idea.  A price comparison website for technologies, specializing in news and reviews, updates and specifications, analysis of trends in technology and almost everything related to trending hot topics about all the new tech in and around the world. But what’s more interesting is what it is called Shop Nani, “Nani of all Shops”.

So here we are presenting you the journey of a young entrepreneur Yugansh Chokra a Bachelor of Engineering Student through his initiative of Shop Nani.

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1) What is Shop Nani all about?

An AI (Artificial Intelligence) based search engine where you can get information for various technologies. All of which are global and updated.

A blog that will surely improve the user experience. Also, for better reach to the readers and for better user interaction & response, they have different categorized content like reviews, first impressions, tech tips, gadgets, news, comparisons, etc. So, a user can choose directly what he wants instead of searching for the content he wants amongst all the available content. A user-friendly blog sites.

Since June 2016 it has transitioned into India’s largest product-based search engine with over 30 million products across 20,000+ retailers.

2) How did Shop Nani start? What was the Eureka Moment?

The founder was an e-commerce shopper. But the catch was, he just used to add the items to the cart whatever he liked rather than buying them. And as it is said that night comes with silence and peacetime for thoughts, the same happened with him. One fine day, at 3:00 am in the morning it clicked him that why not come up with a platform where people can compare prices of E-Commerce websites before purchasing a product. So, after this thought and a lot of processing, this young mind started its journey in 2016.

“Every moment is the Eureka moment”, this is what they feel as they are doing something new every day. But beyond this one of the most special moments was getting acceptance from the University of Chicago Incubation Centre.

3) What exactly is the business model of Shop Nani? What are the sources of your revenue?

The business model is simple. We have 500+ clients on board, all the e-commerce sites from Alibaba to Amazon to Flipkart to Shop Clues and what not.  We monetize our website through affiliate commissions and advertisements. We get affiliate commissions from top online retailers like Amazon, Flipkart for sales generated through our leads. We run advertisement campaigns for our brand partners like Samsung, Google, Oppo, Vivo, Nokia, Huawei, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Voltas and many more.

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4)What are the challenges you faced while launching Shop Nani?

The biggest initial Challenge was Team Building. As there were many interested to work for a startup but losing motivation to work for it is a lot easier. Finding the real hustlers was the major challenge.

5) Please share something about your experience in making your own place in the market.

The journey so far has been amazing and the strategy which we followed for making our own place was through Social Campaigns. For instance, this Diwali campaign of the plant a tree started. In it, people just have to sign up and we would be planting a tree on their behalf. Our campaigns have been able to see an overwhelming response so far.

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6) How do you differentiate and compete with your competitors?

Not having direct competitors in the market, we have indirect ones like Cashkro. But they basically offer comparisons towards electronics majorly whereas we offer various products.

7) What are your plans for expansion and scaling up?

Our major plans are to expand in various places in Europe and Asia. Since I travel a lot so I could figure out that there is a lot of scope in these places for scaling up of our business. But our primary focus for scaling up is through social media. Recently we started on LinkedIn and we can see the growth of more than 124%.

8) How did you fund your start-up, to begin with? What difficulties you are facing for funding your start-up?

We have not raised any funding yet and we have done our work through bootstrapping. There was a time when we tried raising fund but the major challenge that we faced was that I am a student so how can an investor have faith in me. Since as a student I m not able to work full time so, this issue is there.

9) Is there any point in your life when you wished to give up? How did you overcome this challenge?

Yes definitely, there are so many situations that are going against you and makes you feel frustrated so in that case I take a small break rather than giving up. Life gives us two options that are either Do it or Don’t do it. And Do it a better option to choose.

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10)In this ever-changing global scenario, starting up a new business and launching an innovative start-up is a big challenge. Please share your key learnings for the benefit of budding entrepreneurs as a person who has been there done that.

There are a lot of people who try to think of a product or service, but they don’t get into the process and there is the second type of people who try to copy. Like I want to make a Facebook with some distinct features, it is not possible as they have a monopoly.

For starting up a start-up firstly you need to understand a problem, right after realizing it try to figure out a solution. Find the right prospects for it, especially the ones facing the same problem. Share your ideas rather than keeping it to yourself with the thought of it being copied. But if it so you deserve it as someone else is more passionate than you. You shouldn’t be insecure. You need to look at the bigger picture.

The next thing is people come to me to know how to get investments, even if they don’t have a product or else, they don’t tell me. Rather than focusing on investment first work on having a team, manufacturing a product, build your audience, if not at least get a minimum viable product.

I’ll advice you to first share your ideas, come up with a solution, create your own audience, work on personal branding especially digitally.

Try to build a community and rather than investing time for investors to try to invest in team, product, and timing.

 

 

 

 

Startup Sunday || Season 4 Episode 25|| Astrotalk

The business world might appear buttoned-down from the outside – but in reality, it’s a lot more interesting than you might realize. Many entrepreneurs are known for their colorful characters, both at work and in personal lives and few just mesmerize you with their journey of starting up. After all, following rules and staying inside the lines doesn’t often make for business success, whether it is establishing a strong and influential presence in the field of astrology or any other field.

From being a non-believer in astrology to launching the biggest brand in this field, sharing all the ups and downs that came in his way and how he became a successful entrepreneur. Presenting the journey of Puneet Gupta, Founder & CEO of AstroTalk :

1) What is Astrotalk all about?
Astrotalk offers online Astrology consultation with an Astrologer on call or chat.

Customer has an option to choose between the list of 400+ Astrologers and talk to anyone they desire, based on their profile, price, and reviews. We have the World Famous Astrologers on the Best Astrology Website in India, practicing both Indian Astrology and Western Astrology for astrology today. They will provide the best free horoscope astrology to you by analyzing your birth chart and your astrology sign and will provide you with accurate future predictions online.

Current stats:

Total Installs: 900,000+

No of Astrologers: 300+

Daily Transactions: 1000+

Repeat Rate: 7+ (Higher than Swiggy)

Rating: 4.7/5.0 (Highest in this industry)

2) How did Astrotalk start? What was the Eureka moment?
A strange but true prediction made me believe in Astrology, which eventually became the reason behind pivoting my IT services business to a product in the line of astrology.

Story- Back in 2013, I quit my job with Nomura to pursue my dreams but things didn’t go as planned and I struggled for a year and exhausted my savings. To make ends meet, I went back to Mumbai and did some odd jobs as I was not getting shortlisted for any technology job interviews, sighting a gap of 1 year. After some networking, an old colleague referred me to BNP Paribas and I got the job at a pay cut.

After working there for a year, I got in touch with one of my school friends, who later went to IIT Delhi, and we both planned to start an IT services company. It was time to put down the papers yet again, and I typed the resignation letter with full enthusiasm (that time I didn’t have to look for email templates on google) but I got very anxious before sending it, as the old struggling days started haunting me.

As I was staring dead at the resignation email, one of my colleagues came over and inquired, “Is everything okay? You look lost.” I showed her my resignation letter and told her how my own negative thoughts are not letting me do what I really wanted to.

She looked at me with empathy and said, “I can see your birth chart and tell you what to do as per Astrology. What are your birth details?” and she opened one very badly designed app on her phone to input my details. I was shocked and amused at the same time. I promised myself to hire good UI/UX designers to develop better apps than that).

“Like seriously? Do you really think I believe in all this? Padhe likhe hoke aap andh vishwas faila rahe ho!” I scolded her but I wished I could get some help.

She waited for me to complete and demanded, “Are you done? Now tell me your birth details. I don’t care if you believe or not but let me try to help.” I shared the details as I would rather not mess with a senior. But knowing her coding skills, I could totally judge that she would screw up in Astrology as well.

As she was analyzing my chart, I waited curiously to know the outcome, the way I had waited for my 10th standard board results. There is something about Astrology, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not, but it fascinates you like nothing else. However, as I didn’t trust her and would never have liked to take a biased decision based on Astrology, so I quickly sent the resignation letter and locked my screen. Meanwhile, she was done with her calculations and it was time for the results.

“You are Leo Ascendant and your Sun is exalted…” I interrupted her in between and asked, “I don’t understand all this. Tell me something about the past to make me believe you,” I was such a spoiler.

Beta, jitna tu bhaagta hai na isse, aage jake utna jaada believe karega (Dear, as much as you are mocking this today, you will believe in it much more, in future),” She mocked me this time but after hearing that I was convinced she knew Astrology as good as Database designing, as I would never do that.

You don’t choose Astrology, Astrology chooses you”

Then she told me many things about my past to make her point including the date of my accident in school days, which was shocking. And once she observed the change in my body language, she stopped telling about the past and came to the main question. She not only predicted the past correctly but was also such a nice observer of behavior. Oh God! Why the hell was she a MySQL developer?

“Yes, you can quit your job as the next 2 years are very promising for an IT business as per the placement of Saturn and Rahu,” she smiled as she made the prediction. I am still not sure if that smile was for a positive prediction or for the virtual win over me.

“Just 2 years?,” I exclaimed with a sheepish laugh as I had to pretend that I was not interested.

Like every other story, this story was also filled with some twists and turns. The twist was that my business partner might leave after 2 years from then and I would face some issues in resuming the business and it might take a year to pivot to a new venture, “But you will make it” she assured after observing my not-so-good body language.

“You can press the send button,” she finally said something with a real smile as she observed that I wasn’t mocking anymore and had surrendered myself, unlike a Leo.

After that, I served my notice period and came to Noida and started an IT services company named CodeYeti in April 2015. We managed to scale up very quickly to 45 employees, serving about 15-20 clients at a time and clocked a revenue of $0.5 million in the first year itself. We started working for big enterprises like Yamaha, GreenPly along with startups.

Everything was going well until my partner told me that he is not getting a kick from the services business and wanted to do a tech product. We spent the next 6 months on 2 products but ended up wasting capital as nothing seemed to work and he finally quit in March 2017 to do something else.

And that reminded me about the prediction, my ex-colleague had made about my partner’s exit. I called her after a gap of 2 years (Let’s just assume that I was busy and was not bad at keeping in touch) and told her about the prediction.

I could sense the happiness in her voice as her prediction came true but she showed concern as it was a loss for me. To my surprise, she knew everything about CodeYeti as she followed our social media channels and congratulated me for what we had achieved in such a short duration.

“Do you want me to check your chart again?” she inquired.

I paused for a moment and proposed an idea, “How about I start a product in the field of Astrology and I become your first customer?” She halted for a few seconds and said, “Hmmm…I had quit my job 4 months back for some personal reasons, and I can take out some time to work with you but I won’t be very active, so you will have to find more astrologers. I can connect you with a few in my network”

“Yes Yes !! You can work whenever you have time and you can interview and train other astrologers and we will keep hiring. You can become their mentor and take care of the department of Astrologers”, I said in excitement.

“Hmm…So, when are we going live?” she straight away asked for a deadline, the way she did at BNP. Some people never change.

And then, there was the ultimate turn – I worked on developing the product and launched an MVP (minimum viable product) of AstroTalk within a month and assigned a dedicated technology & operations team to it. I called her as a customer and asked, “How would AstroTalk do?”

3) What exactly is the business model of Astrotalk? What are the sources of your revenue?
Business model is pretty simple. Every astrologer has a different per minute price to connect with them on call/chat. Customer recharges their Astrotalk wallet and then initiate the session. Money is deducted from the wallet based on the duration of session.

4) What are the challenges you faced while launching Astrotalk ?

Challenges always have been to source quality astrologers. Unlike any other marketplace, we take a lot of interviews and do background checks before onboarding anyone on our platform. This helps us maintain a very good quality of service but it becomes difficult to source such quality astrologers as they are available in different parts of the country.

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5) Please share something about your experience in making your own place in the market.

The journey has been very fascinating. I think what I learned while running Codeyeti helped me a lot to run the business in a very mature way. Our focus has always been to serve the customer in the best possible way and we have grown majorly by word of mouth and our positive reviews over the web. People who were treated very well by our customer support and who genuinely got helped by astrology, write good things about us online and those articles and reviews have brought us most of our customers.

We still haven’t invested much into marketing. Although we want to spend a lot on marketing, we haven’t been able to do so, as we are still trying to work on our internal operations to an extent that none of our existing customers ever face an issue. We are very finicky about customer retention and a little casual about new customer acquisition for now.

6) How do you differentiate and compete with your competitors?

I think we have raised the bar very high in less than 2 years that we don’t see a lot of competition now. However, we still keep hustling and see a lot of gaps that need to be filled. So, we are continuously trying to iterate on our product. We have a team that talks to all our customers to take product gap feedback and our tech team reports to that team.

7) What are your plans for expansion and scaling up?

Our plan is to reach out to the masses and make Astrotalk a household name in India. In order to achieve this, we have recently started providing the first session free of cost and brought done the minimum recharge value to Rs 60 from Rs 200.

8) How did you fund your start-up, to begin with? What difficulties you are facing for funding your start-up?

We have been approached by a few investors but nothing materialized as our mindset did not match. We are bootstrapped and profitable at this stage and are making a profit of over 1 Million USD annually. Although, we are open to the idea of taking investment, but only when someone is aligned with our vision.

9) Is there any point in your life when you wished to give up? How did you overcome this challenge?

There were a lot of difficult and low moments in my life but more than giving up the dream, it has always been about pivoting the business.

While running Codeyeti, I had reached a stage where I couldn’t think of doing that for a long time and that’s when we pivoted it to AstroTalk.

10) In this ever-changing global scenario, starting up a new business and launching an innovative start-up is a big challenge. Please share your key learnings for the benefit of budding entrepreneurs as a person who has been there done that.

Patience and Perseverance is the key to success. Starting a new business is a very challenging lifestyle with no guarantee of results. Universe will test your patience at every step and if you keep hustling and do not give up, you will eventually find your way.

Startup Sunday || Season 4 Episode 24|| All Author

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A book is a Mitzvah for every author. Seldom do they become fruitful in helping the right set of readers to discover the book as a new title is released almost every day. As a solution, Brothers Naveen Joshi and Madhuker Joshi started AllAuthor in 2016 with an aim to simplify authors’ lives. Based in Noida, it is an online platform which provides services for book promotion including personal branding, creation of engaging content, and automation of social media promotion. For this, it creates and provides marketing tools such as graphics, banners, and videos that authors can share on their social media accounts to connect with readers.

In 2010, Naveen and Madhuker had started an edtech startup, M4maths, a mathematics learning website that helps prepare students for pre-placement tests at companies, college entrance exams, and government job exams. However, this free platform did not generate enough revenue to help the business thrive. Around this time, Naveen, who used to work in the website and mobile development industry, started to get few projects for website development. Most of his clients were authors, and he ended up creating a website where authors could connect with other authors and get help with book promotions. The realisation that, the requirement of almost all the authors were similar when it came to book listings, social media-links etc. led to the idea of building a platform where authors could have their own profiles and connect with readers. And AllAuthor was born.

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Naveen says getting authors to sign up with them was a challenge initially, but they relied on word of mouth. The team got in touch with authors through social media channels and influenced them to come on to their platform. At present, AllAuthor claims to have 20 authors who are listed in the Amazon Top 100 ranking, including JS Scott, Carolyn Brown, and others. The startup now has a total of 5,000 authors and around 60,000 readers on its platform as of now, with maximum authors from the US (78 percent), followed by the UK, Canada, Australia, and India.

The team has grown to seven members now, with Madhuker managing the ground work and team while Naveen manages the tech and marketing areas. Both brothers are clear that their focus is now AllAuthor, and M4maths is “currently on auto-pilot mode”.

AllAuthor can be used by two sets of people: Authors and Readers. Memberships for readers are free while authors can choose between the free and paid memberships. Every author who signs up gets a dedicated page where s/he can include their bio, books (with buy links), and social media handles and website/blog. The website offers a free sample – two chapters – of every book to readers; they are redirected to ecommerce websites if they wish to buy the book.It also has a section for readers where they can interact with authors, discuss books with other readers, and list their favorite quotes and books.

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AllAuthor provides authors with three marketing tools on its platform. These include:

  1. Author branding: AllAuthor creates an author profile that is customisable with themes.
    Authors can include their social media handles, biographies, and information about their books here. The profile also offers a contact form so readers can connect with them.The authors and their books are also listed on the author and book directory on the website. The directory is divided into different categories, based on a reader’s preference such as genre, country, reviews etc.
  2. Utility tools: These help authors to create engaging graphics, banners, and videos that they can use while promoting their books. The easy-to-use platform lets them DIY book teasers, promotional GIF banners, book promotional banners, and weekly mock-up banners.
  3. Automation tools: AllAuthor provides tools to schedule tweets, monitor piracy, and give the author control over promotional content The AllAuthor platform offers two programmes: Pro and free. The Pro authors get top priority in the directory and can make use of all utility and marketing tools.

Pro authors  are also featured in an author interview on the website. The Free version limits the author; s/he can only use some of the tools and can to add up to four books to the website. Free users can only sample most of the tools above. The Pro subscription model is priced at $99 per year. In addition to the featured listing option for one book provided for free under this membership, authors can also feature their books separately at the rate of $34 per book for six months without being a Pro member.

According to Nielsen, the book sales sector in India is estimated to be worth $6.76 billion now and is set to grow at an average compound annual growth rate of 19.3 percent until 2020. While there are similar startups like Delhi-based Vowelor and Chennai-based Notion Press that help authors, Naveen says the others focus only on branding and do not help with book promotions.

The founders of AllAuthor, which was bootstrapped with Rs 10 lakh as initial investment, say funding was a challenge initially. Today, AllAuthor generates its revenue from the Pro premium feature on its platform, through book listings, and referral commission from other ecommerce book platforms. It claims to have a current annual revenue of $90,000, and is looking to grow this in the near future.

Startup Sunday || Season 4 Episode 23 ||NAVIA- SIRI FOR DOCTORS

‘Turn on the lights.’

‘Dim the lights.’

‘Play the next song.’

These are only few of the many commands that we give our home and phone assistants. What if we could use the same technology to empower medical service providers and make hospital visits more efficient? Delhi-based Navia Life Care aims to do just that with its voice-powered digital assistant for doctors and queue management system for clinics and hospitals.

Navia was founded by ISB graduate Gaurav Gupta and his friends Kunal Kishore Dhawan, and Shourjo Banerjee in 2016.

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Empowering healthcare providers

Navia is a B2B SaaS startup. Their key customers include individual doctors and hospitals; all they need to do is sign up on their website. The first month of usage is free. However, after that, doctors and hospitals “can buy an annual licence”, Kunal says.

Navia’s flagship product NAVI is an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled voice assistant for doctors. NAVI is used to create shareable and printable digital prescriptions in less than 30 seconds, which helps doctors and patients to keep records safe in one place.

Navia QM, on the other hand, is an OPD efficiency tool to optimise patient wait time and increase the efficiency of the front office staff. It not only helps in improving patient experience but also enables the doctor/hospital to see more patients by managing the queue.

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Their last product, Navia SMART, helps improve clinical and financial outcomes. It is a modular and network-enabled suite that helps care provides leverage technology to build, maintain, and improve relationships with their patients. Navia SMART can be plugged into the existing IT architecture to use data analytics and provide insights to customers. It implements AI, machine learning (ML), and predictive analytics.

Navia sells annual licences of its products to customers. It partners with pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and technology companies to acquire customers.

Focussing on the main points

Creating these products was, however, not easy. Team Navia spent two years understanding the user’s pain points.

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Their in-house tech team designed the products. Navia at present works with about 75 hospitals and clinics, and over 300 doctors currently use their solutions.

The Numbers Game

Navia has so far raised about Rs 1.1 crore across two rounds.

Their key investor is Benori Ventures, led by Ashish Gupta, ex-COO of Evaluserve. Other notable investors include Sorabh Agarwal, a finance professional; Dr Rahul Verma, a seasoned senior executive; and Mayank Mamtani, a healthcare-focused investment banking professional.

In the pink of health

According to IBEF, the Indian healthcare sector is “growing at a brisk pace due to its strengthening coverage, services and increasing expenditure by public as well private players”. The healthcare market is expected to reach $372 billion by 2022, driven by “rising incomes, greater health awareness, lifestyle diseases, and increasing access to insurance”.

Navia competes with the likes of My Healthcare, Consure Medical, Doctalk, Lybrate, and Mfine. What differentiates this healthtech startup from the rest? The simplicity of its products – doctors create prescription within a minute using a voice assistant.

Moreover, Navia has an innovative business model – instead of being feet-on-street heavy, it is looking at the expansion of business through partnerships, which help in creating credibility in the industry.

Expansion Plan

Navia now has plans to launch its operations overseas. “We are working hard in making our product compliant for other countries and are currently exploring the Middle East and Southeast Asian markets,” Kunal says. “We will also raise pre-Series A funding in the next three-months.”

Startup Sunday || Season 4 Episode 22 || Talentiro

What is Talentiro all about?

We are creating a SaaS based model which is the first of its kind web application which will allow an employee to take their review and rating from one organization to another organization This application depends on the employer-employee relationship. Here the main vision of Talentiro is to bring the concept of performance score and initiate open culture for review and feedback.

You can’t judge a person in a 15-20 minute interview.” So you need some tool which can provide you information about the knowledge, skill, performance, etc. of the candidate.

While sharing your CV, the candidate will share a link to the recruiter on which all their previous ratings will be visible to the recruiter. This is a B2B model, it’s a 360-degree performance review system where employees can take reviews from their manager, peers, clients, and subordinate.

Once you get the review you come to know employee’s performance score, the areas that need improvement, where employees are lacking, they should work to overcome, for this Talentiro has an online corporate training portal where training companies, the domain experts share their expertise and knowledge.

How did you get the idea of this startup?

Nowadays, people think every business is a startup but they don’t know the true meaning of a startup. Every startup is a business but every business is not a Startup. We started with the vision to bring some positive changes in the industry. Change is never easy for anyone but positive change is required for improvement and enhancing the standard and those who are working for change can make it large.

What is your business model?

Our Business model is very simple, we have developed a product that can be used by the organization for their process improvement, performance management, linking performance with organization branding and at the same time linking your performance for individual branding.

We have the following features in our beta version and we will live in the market by the end of December 2019

  1. 360 Degree modern employee review tool
  2. Organization review tool
  3. Corporate training.
  4. Employee recognition and engagement.
  5. Project management and task management tool and many other features as well are in the beta version.

How do you generate revenues?

We have three revenue model

  1. MRR base: From organization
  2. Event base: From Employee
  3. Commission base: From Training tie-ups.

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Have you gone for any funding?

We haven’t gone for any funding from a specific angel investor or any VC yet. However, we do have funding from our core advisors, one is from Switzerland and another one is from South Africa. so I can say that we are not a funded startup from any angel investor or a VC but yeah, we have our funds from our associates who believe in this innovative concept.

Did you face any challenges in your journey?

Every day we faced different kinds of issues, different kinds of challenges but in the end, entrepreneurs are known for solving the problems and we also love to do the same as every problem comes up with an opportunity for learning.

 

Do you have any specific competitors?

There are two kinds of competitor i.e. Direct and Indirect.

All the review systems which provide 360-degree performance review tool an organization are our direct competitors as even we have an employee-based system and there are some indirect competitor as well who can have an interest in our business.

Do you have any suggestions for people trying to build their own startups?

Listen to everyone but do not apply everything as opinion can be different from person to person.

Do not waste time in various irrelevant events where one or two senior people come and just give you lecture on taking risks even though they have never taken any risk in their own lives, so better to take some guidance from those who actually have some experience.

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