As part of our BloggersIdeas interview series, today we have Swati Bhargava from cashkaro.com, she will be sharing her journey how she became an entrepreneur and putting her ideas into reality. She had long journery from UK to India and after prolong efforts finally she found cashkaro.com India’s leading cashback & coupon website.
So lets start the interview with swati.
Please tell us about yourself and your educational background ?
I am Swati Bhargava CEO & Co-Founder, Cashkaro.com. I had completed my high school from National Junior college, GCSE with A level in 2001, with majoring subjects such as Maths, Economic and Physics.
Later I completed I major subjects of mathematics and economics with London school of economics and political science BS, in 2005.
I share blog posts and articles of my interest on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is more of a personal space for me, so I share selective articles there otherwise Twitter is my go-to.
What made her you Cashkaro.com?
Rohan and I always wanted to do something of our own. While working for Goldman Sachs in the UK, where I worked in the CEOs office for a good 5 years, Rohan and I started exploring our own business ideas. We saw Cashback making a big buzz in the UK and thought that it could be an interesting venture to start off with.
We left our jobs, delved deeper in the Cashback market and did our research well. Both of us come from a finance background, so our initial months were spent trying to learn A-Z about the Cashback industry.
In 2011 we launched our first website in the UK called Pouring Pounds followed by 4 more such websites. In 2013, seeing the success of PouringPounds we decided to introduce the Cashback concept in India and launched it as: Cashkaro.com.
Have you faced any challenges yet? Please describe it.
Challenges are a part of growing in any space, so yes, challenges have been aplenty but the below have been some key areas we faced problems in:
– Hiring good talent. It’s a challenge especially at early stages – both finding good talent and retaining them if you are just starting out and revenues take time to kick-in.
– Working with third parties and developers who all over-promised but under-delivered.
– Getting retailers to pay commission on time and play just & fair, so that our customers get paid on time. As we now drive a lot of sales its been easier to set some terms and conditions.
– Lack of seed funding in India – investors want to put money in only once you start making money but that’s when you may not even need it! We raised money in the UK so somewhat were able to overcome this issue.
What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs? In India parents think that entrepreneurship is not good. They want their children to do jobs. What you think upon this. ?
My gyaan to budding entrepreneurs would be to first and foremost believe in yourself and your product/service completely. Have no doubts about your venture and do put in considerable time in weighing the pros and cons. While am sure you must’ve read philosophies encouraging self-belief, if you yourself do not believe in what you do, you may not be imparting your best.
For when you are looking to get a team of your own, if you believe something will really work, the same attitude will rub-off on your team as well.
In India, parents do often encourage their children to take the safer route and hence many parents aren’t very kicked out the entrepreneurial idea but I think that if one really believes in something he should do it. That’s how I am where I am and I have Indian parents too.
What are some examples of how you have worked to sell your ideas in collaborative environments?
We have partnered with bloggers and run some blogger engagement activities like Blog contests, video contests and review campaigns. These activities not only create a buzz and help raise awareness around Cashkaro but are also fun, engaging and exciting. I am active on Quora and Twitter and love engaging with people.
There’s a lot of competition for marketers out there, especially established, quality marketers, how do you survive in this tough competition?
There is no doubt that there is quite a bit of competition. So circumvent it and excel on our own, we make sure we focus and develop each different vertical well. We put in a lot of time, money and effort on Google ads, Facebook ads, Social Media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc) and work on attracting a different audience pool from each vertical.
Our Facebook page is very engaging, informative and we also run contests off and on too to keep our audience interested. Our Facebook audience helped us come out with a Cashkaro-Tax Survey, results can be seen here: http://bit.ly/1pskl0e. We also have an engaging Twitter account @Cashkarocom and are building on our Slideshare profile too.
Given the current IPL buzz, we have built on social media campaigns that revolve around it and engage audience based on their interests.
How Can I Turn Price-Sensitive Shoppers In to Customers?
E-commerce in India offers a variety of products and discounts alike. Price conscious people are always on the lookout for the best deals and are up for extra savings any day! Coupon websites give them discounts agreed but Cashback websites give coupons and Cashback in addition too! The main challenge for Cashkaro is to actually spread the word about its services, once out in the open am sure people will love Cashkaro!
How Can I Grow My Home-Based Business?
Firstly, start-off with Social Media and make you product/ brand go viral. Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest and great platform to be present on and they are really helpful in reaching out to the world.
Secondly, come up with engaging content to get traction.
One marketing mantra at Cashkaro is to try different ideas and closely monitor their performance and then decide where to put in more money. Try, test and invest is the best way to go! This was you will know which idea will give you the best roi.
How Can I Pitch My Product to Large Companies?
A few things to keep in mind would be:
-When you approach large companies, first and foremost identify and visualise your venture to have a good fit with the larger company. Find the most relevant person therein and start the conversation with him. Approaching a random person may lead to communication gaps and you may never reach the right individual.
In this era of Social Media finding a person is not to tuff, you can almost get in touch with anyone you want, LinkedIn and Facebook are two great examples!
– Always appear professional when you approach a larger company. Even if you are small, you need not always act like one.
– If going for a meeting or a presentation, don’t go alone to pitch, always take another person along with you. This shows that you have a team behind your idea. Larger companies are not always keen about partnering with small business as they are doubtful about partnering with small firms and their reputation too is also at stake.
What Are Some Good Business Books to Read?
Rohan and I heavily recommend the book titled, “Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t” by James C. Collins. It gives great insight to budding entrepreneurs! Though not a business book, I fully live by the book by Rhonda Byrnes title “The Secret” because I believe that the right attitude and mindset is equally important for each and every business.
How Can I Fund a New Business Idea Without Crowdfunding?
I believe that it is always best to start with your own savings, build on your idea and show it to be a proven model. Once you reach this stage, you can look at angel and seed investors. All you have to do is prove traction and go for it!
How Should We Divide Equity Among Co-Founders?
The divide actually varies on a case-to-case basis. It also depends on which co-founder puts in how mych time and commitment. There are many such factors which influence what the equity break-up should ideally be like.
In my view “Passion” is very important to make the business work and each founder should feel equally incentivized and motivated to work. In this sense a fifty-fifty split is absolutely harmless!
What about my blog. Any suggestions you would like to give.
Honestly, I think your blog is great! I enjoy reading it and in fact we all here at Cashkaro love reading it.
All the best and keep blogging!
My tip to you would be that you can try building a forum or a community to further engage and build your audience.
What is the message to my readers?
Seeing your blog, I assume that most of your readers are bloggers themselves. By message to blogger is that they must continue blogging. Blogging is not easy, it is time-consuming, strains the brain and is a very tuff to maintain regularly if one is not always blogging but I want to say that blogging is a great hobby to have and a great thing to do in addition to what one is doing in life.
It gives a sense of satisfaction and appreciation from others helps one delve deeper on topics and grow more.
I’d love for all bloggers to actually try out Cashkaro.com and review it too! If any bloggers are reading, do get in touch with me on [email protected] and I would love to sponsor some of your shopping for you to try and experience Cashkaro and earn Cashback!
If you have any questions or doubts please do ask in the comments below !