An Interview with Ankur Warikoo, CEO& Founder nearbuy.com

20/01/2017
ankur-nearbuy-dsim
An interesting session with Ankur Warikoo, CEO& Founder nearbuy.com

‘nearbuy’ (earlier Groupon India) is a pan-India online marketplace platform that allows customers to connect with local merchants and engage with each other across 33 cities in India. It allows customers to Discover, Buy and Save on these local merchants.

Q1. Hi Ankur, Please introduce your brand ‘‘nearbuy’’ to our readers in brief?
Ans. ‘nearbuy’ is India’s largest hyper-local platform that enables service merchants in the offline world to sell to online customers. Whether it’s fine dining, relaxing at the top spas, or just discovering your city, ultimately, ‘nearbuy’ makes it happen for you.
It offers its merchants a strong branding and visibility-led platform that enables customers, in and around their establishments, to easily discover their businesses.
Q2. So, nearbuy.com has come a long way! Can you wind back and tell us something about the time you started up and things that gave you confidence.
Ans. In 2014, a passionate group of people, not comfortable with their cushy MNC jobs, identified and went after an opportunity far larger than what anyone else (including Groupon) saw in India.
We believed in challenging the status quo, so in August 2015, with a funding of INR 100 cr. from Sequoia Capital, Groupon in India rebranded itself as ‘nearbuy’, with a belief that services can be and will be bought online in India.
Groupon Inc. was a deal player, but ‘nearbuy’ wanted to move beyond that, since proximity and relevance have become for the customer today.
Q3. Let us know about your business model?
Ans. The business operates on a commission-based model and differentiates itself from people operating in the same industry through patented technology for the 1st time in the country, to create real-time pricing for services retail.
Since the business is about proximity, what’s around people, and transactions, what people can buy and at what price, it is called ‘nearbuy’.
Q4. nearbuy’s short term and long term plans?
Ans. In the short term, nearbuy’s goal is to establish the operating standard of the online services retail industry. How merchants come online, how customers react to it, the platform, the flow of consumption etc.
In the long term, ‘nearbuy’ aims to be the de facto destination for all offline buying needs for the consumer – across eating out, beauty & wellness, things to do and travel.
Now, ‘nearbuy’ is the market leader in the online services retail space in India.
Q5. As you said earlier, Groupon India rebranded itself as ‘nearbuy’, what appealed you to do this?
Ans. Groupon India was the fastest growing company in the portfolio of 48 countries with an annual growth rate of greater than 150%. However, there still lies a massive untapped market that Groupon India could not tap because of lack of technology and monetary investments from Groupon Inc.
Came through a proposal from the management in India to make this entity independent and a Management Buyout (MBO) was pulled off in August 2015 in a rebranding that followed an ownership change, Groupon India is now called ‘nearbuy’.
Q6.Ankur, what would be your viewpoint on present day marketing, seeing traditional as well as digital?
Ans. IToday, I do see marketing having conventional plans with Digital in the mix. In a country like India with over 200 million people using Social Media or messaging app, it’s impossible to keep digital out of the plan.
Conventional marketing using no digital in it; is opportunity lost. Digital is not a threat to conventional marketing; it’s now an essential element.
The best thing about digital marketing is that it’s measurable to the last dollar spent. This makes it relatively simple to measure impact when compared to traditional media. This single-handedly allows marketers to push for digital compared to other forms of media.
Q7. So, any thoughts in specific you feel like sharing with we people??
Ans. Keep on innovating and exciting customers. They will be your fans and loyalists. Innovative and unique sweepstakes have worked for us. We run these offers for INR 0.
Whether it’s the Batman vs. Superman premier invites or meet and greet with Alia Bhatt and Hrithik Roshan, a trip to Las Vegas or a ticket to a coldplay concert in Abu Dhabi. These are the experiences that money can’t buy.
Q8. Any piece of advice you would have given to yourself when just getting started?
Ans. Start something you believe in and Do Epic Shit.
Q9. What keeps you going as an entrepreneur?
Ans. My work. My constant urge to bring people closer to my business.
Q10. When did you decide to work for this idea?
Ans. It was always known to me; to become an entrepreneur.
Q11. What are the beliefs that help you come out of difficult situations?
Ans. 1. Constant belief in the people I work with
2. My wife’s relentless support
3. Never lose faith in your vision
Q12. Your key advices to people who want to begin entrepreneurship?
Ans. My Key advice is: Try to solve a problem that is actually a problem.
The marketing strategies differ seeing upon the country and its economic structure. A lot of successful ideas in US will not work here in India.
So, do not fool yourself into copying ideas.
No one hates the grocery stores. No one hates the restaurant delivery system. No one hates the laundry waala in your society.
Thereby, you need to think twice before bringing replacement ideas for these. You might just move one problem to another, without actually solving a real problem.
Really glad to know about ‘nearbuy’. DSIM wish you all the good luck for your enterprising venture.
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