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An Interview with Kanika Jain, Co-Founder of SquadRun

07/09/2015
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Open Talk @DSIM

An Interview with Kanika Jain, Co-Founder of SquadRun

SquadRun is a mobile marketplace. SquadRun is a ‘gamified’ puzzle app that allows users to make money by completing simple tasks on their phone. This solution allows users to monetize down time while providing businesses cost effective solutions for common operational problems. It was founded in 2014 by Apurv Agrawal, Kanika Jain and Vikas Gulati..

Q1. Hi Kanika, Thank you for taking out the time for this small interaction.  We are very curious to know more about your business?

Ans. Rather I should say thanks to you and DSIM team to give me an opportunity to brief my business and make customers aware of our products and services. Speaking about my business, SquadRun is a gamified app that pays you for completing simple fun tasks which we call ‘missions’. Missions range from activities such as matching products or hash tagging images, categorizing books etc.

Every time a player successfully completes a mission he/she earns ‘SquadCoins’ which can be redeemed for mobile recharges and online shopping coupons. The app features lives, levels and various difficulty levels so the players can map their growth and do different types of activities making it a really fun way to kill time.

They can play it in the metro, in a boring lecture, while waiting in queues. Any free time they have can be converted into value using SquadRun! This way, we are able to provide solutions to businesses with big data problems (our client range from big MNCs toE­commerce websites) in a way that is super efficient and fun.

Q2. How the idea of SquadRun came to your mind?

Ans.My co­founder, Apurv’s most successful venture while in college was ngoFuel.org ­ a crowdsourcing platform to connect skilled volunteers (mostly students) with non­profits that needed basic tech help (websites, social media, etc). Even though service based, crowdsourcing made it a super scalable model.

He started exploring a startup along the themes ­ crowdsourcing, monetizing excess capacity of time, amazingly growing Smartphone penetration in India etc. and SquadRun was born.

I am a lawyer by education, and worked with Apurv at 91springboard. Initially, I wanted to come onboard as an angel investor but eventually joined the team to lead operations. We needed someone to lead engineering efforts, so Apurv’s batch-mate, Vikas jumped in.

Q3 . What was your biggest challenge in operating this business? How did you meet that challenge?
Ans.The biggest challenge so far has been striking a balance between users and clients. SquadRun deals with a two sided marketplace so one of our most daunting tasks was to figure out who comes first, the users or the clients.  Building a hardworking and dedicated team is also quite a challenge. Finding the right kind of people to work with is of utmost importance and we treat it as our top priority.
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Q4.Kanika, what is the overall role of digital marketing in your business as startup?

Ans. Digital Marketing for us is crucial not only in acquiring new users for the App but also generating leads on the business side. We plan to grow exponentially in the coming years and achieve a transaction volume of 2 million data items per day within the next year.

We have made use of social media channels such as Facebook, Tumblr etc to acquire and build our player community. On the business side we are currently in the process of developing and rolling out a content marketing strategy to nurture leads.

Q5.Where do you see the future of digital marketing in the industry?
Ans.Digital marketing is very powerful tool­ it’s the only way to reach customers 24/7. It is a much better channel to communicate with your target audience at affordable cost. Digital media is constantly evolving which poses new challenges and opportunities. Consumers are looking up products/services through various devices and channels and hence it is become necessary to build a presence on the web.
Q6.  Can you tell us something about Squadrun journey? What is your vision of what Squadrun should look like in the future? 
Ans. The idea is to be able to empower housewives, students, young professionals etc. by providing them with a stable source of secondary income. By 2020, we will have a million folks benefiting from this platform every day. (Check our article on ET related to this “SquadRun to create 1 million freelance jobs by 2020”)
Q7.  Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

Ans. Thankfully it was super easy for us to raise fund. We were lucky I guess. Our anchor investor knew Apurv for a couple of years and did 30% of the round. Post that we convinced top startup founders (Amit Ranjan, Deepinder Goel) founders to join in the round. I guess we had a unique story.

Advice would be to know that practically you’re going to lose 10–20% so raise as much as possible and pitch to all the senior startup founder guys. They are the best investors we would want.

Q8.  Kanika, Anything you would like to say to the emerging startups and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Ans. Spend at least half of your time in building the best possible team and constantly work on improving your product above everything else.

“Thanks for taking out some time from your busy schedule and giving valuable suggestion to our readers and sharing precious knowledge with us. Best wishes to you and SquadRun from DSIM.”

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