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Interview: Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr

'We generate revenue through premium listings which get more visibility compared to free ads, and also by generating customer leads for businesses'

Interview: Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr

“We generate revenue through premium listings which get more visibility compared to free ads, and also by generating customer leads for businesses”

Neha Saraiya | Delhi | January 12, 2012

Started in 2008, Quikr today has a user base of 80 million visitors every month to address their needs. The company recently launched its first-ever television campaign, created by Scarecrow Communications. And it has also tied up with Nokia where Quikr apps will be available for users of Nokia S40 series of phones.

In conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr, shares his views about what triggered him to establish Quikr.com and is game plan ahead. Excerpts:

You have seen the rise of digital media from its very early days, both as an advisor to large media companies and as an entrepreneur. How do you view the transformation?

We are living in fascinating times as we witness the media consumption habits of people changing around the world as they gravitate more and more towards digital media. Not just that, media consumption itself is morphing into media interaction -- media has stopped being a one-way industry with content going from media companies to consumers. People have started contributing more and more to content creation itself. Such tectonic shifts always create opportunities for those who have a new way of looking at things, and Quikr is definitely a fine example of that. We have brought to the people of India a new way of selling, buying, renting and finding things, which is very different and much more effective than traditional print classifieds.

What’s your current user base and how do you plan to tap those who are not using digital classifieds at present?

Quikr is the market leader in terms of quality and also quantity. Due to the simplicity of the experience we offer to our users, Quikr has become India’s largest horizontal classifieds company with over 22 million monthly users across 65 Indian cities. We are constantly working on involving those users who are not familiar with digital medium. Some of it is hidden in our efforts to keep our platform so simple that anyone using the Internet for the first time can use it; some of it is actively seeking such people through word of mouth, and some more of it is by deciding to become a mobile and Internet classifieds company, and growing beyond being an online only player. Our mobile business is already as important to us as our online business, and it has been that way for a while.

Considering the nature of your business, how do you ensure that the platform you operate in reaches and serves the average consumer and not just certain sections of consumers?

India has a large population which is becoming more and more affluent and the average consumer’s purchasing power is increasing. The average consumer’s purchase cycles are getting shorter, they are buying more, they are selling used goods that aren’t that old, they are developing hobbies, they are changing homes, jobs, even cities…A horizontal classifieds platform touches all this and even more, so it very much focuses on the mass market consumer and not a niche segment.

For those users who don’t access Internet over desktops/laptops, we offer a similar experience over mobile phones. We have already launched our mobile site – which can be accessed from all Internet-enabled cell phones by simply going to our regular address www.quikr.com. Also, we have developed mobile apps for a majority of popular platforms and have extended the simplicity and quikness of our online platform to them.

Quikr is backed by investment from Matrix Partners India, Omidyar Network and Norwest Venture Partners, and also invested in by eBay Inc. Quikr was formerly known as Kijiji.in. The company was rebranded as Quikr.com in July 2008. What have been the highlights of the company's journey since its rebranded phase?

The journey has been an immensely exciting one. Quikr was launched because we saw that local communities in various cities in India did not have an effective marketplace to buy/sell/rent/find things across a variety of categories ranging from cars to real estate to jobs and services and everything in between. We launched Quikr with a simple promise: it is faster, better and cheaper than other options available in the market. There have been a lot of memorable milestones, like when we crossed 1 million users a month for the first time, or when this number crossed 10 million, and now, when we have crossed even 20 million and are still growing. We have been recognised as a leader not just in India but even globally – we have been included amongst World’s Top 250 private companies by AlwaysOn for the last two years. We have also been invited as an industry leader by companies like Nokia to talk about our journey on a global stage.

How do you deal with tech oriented and non-tech oriented users, both at the same time?

We deal with this by always remembering one line: We are here to help people sell/buy/rent/find anything quikly and simply. That’s it, as simple as that. Why? Because everyone loves simplicity. A tech savvy user likes it as much as a non-tech savvy one, so it works for both. We try to stay away from launching the next cool feature the moment we read about it, and believe me, there are a lot of those to go around in the digital media. Every cool digital dude has a feature that he thinks will look really cool on your website, and you have to be careful about not letting that type of a thing sway you. Staying focused needs great discipline. It’s very hard to do, but if you manage to do it, you come out a winner.

Recently you came up with your marketing campaign devised by Scarecrow. What’s your current marketing strategy and what’s the ratio between various medium spends?

I can’t comment very specifically about the split of our marketing spend across different media, but overall, our strategy has been to present people with actual benefits we bring as opposed to a more abstract campaign. As far as marketing is concerned, Internet Marketing (IM) has been the key to driving traffic and customer acquisition. Being an Internet company, acquiring consumers already on the Internet using IM is very efficient for us. While IM will continue to be a key driver for marketing, TV and print become important to build the brand as we grow our business. Last year, we used TV to articulate the value proposition of how easy and fast the platform is to sell, buy and find anything across our web and mobile platforms. The campaign had a big impact in creating brand awareness by communicating our product differentiation and reinforcing our leadership position. Going forward, we will continue to increase our marketing investments to further build the brand.

Kindly elaborate on your revenue model?

We generate revenues through premium listings which get more visibility compared to free ads, and also by generating customer leads for businesses. And given the scale of our traffic, advertising is also a good source of revenue for us.

How is the current market structure of horizontal classifieds in the country and how do you see it shaping up in coming times?

The horizontal classifieds market in the country has been growing and will continue to grow at a fast clip. That’s because it’s a particularly well suited platform for a market like India. It attracts those who are ecommerce savvy, but also appeals to those who may not even own credit cards -- and in our case, those who may not even know how to use a computer! So it’s a huge market and we are in the fortunate position of being the largest company in this large market by a huge distance. I believe the market will continue to gravitate more and more towards the market leader as this is a classic winner-takes-all business – the more the number of buyers that come to us, the more the number of sellers we attract, which in turn attracts even more buyers. So there is this virtuous circle that’s built into the business itself. It’s no accident that we have grown the way we have, which is several times faster than the market.



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