Media reports state that Sachin and Binny Bansal, founders of Flipkart, actually quit their jobs at Amazon.com with the intention of starting an online price comparison portal, for various products. Soon they realised that there were no quality e-commerce companies in India and decided to start Flipkart, now India’s No. 1 e-commerce player. Of course, the growth of Flipkart spurred a lot of entrepreneurial activity in this space and also prompted global biggies including Amazon and eBay to enter the arena. Now, two promising entrepreneurs – Sitakanta Ray and Sulakshan Kumar – have started what the Bansals wanted to do in 2007, when their quit their jobs.
Hyderabad-based MySmartPrice, founded in 2010 by Ray and Kumar, aims to address the need for shoppers to research products and compare prices before they decide where to shop and what to buy. MySmartPrice is a price comparison platform catering to a wide array of categories including mobiles, electronics, computers, fashion and lifestyle, cameras, books, appliances and personal care. Ray and Kumar were excited and bullish about ecommerce, which they thought would be the next sunrise sector. “Our primary competency was product management and technology. Price comparison happened to be one of those sectors that was more product intensive (in terms of skills and expertise of team members), and thus, became our natural choice,” explains Kumar, co-founder and director.
The initial traffic was built through Search Engine Optimization, which continues to be the prime strategy. But now, the company has also ventured into targeted advertising on Google search results and through Facebook. “Our customers are largely young (between the ages of 18 and 25) and live in urban areas. And, places like Delhi, NCR, Mumbai, and Bangalore contribute significant traffic,” he says. Soon, the company plans to expand its promotional activities further.
Building Product Information
Information about price, features and discount are primarily collected by webcrawlers, sometimes by the hour. But in addition to that, the MySmartPrice also works closely with partner stores to ensure that the prices are current and accurate. The disclaimer Kumar adds is that, MySmartPrice only enables users to make purchase decisions, it does not decide on their behalf. “The final purchase must be made at the store and the stores are responsible for order fulfilment,” he says.
Building the business
The company follows an affiliate marketing model, where it provides ecommerce websites traffic and sales and gets compensated for the same. In less than three years, the traffic to MySmartPrice’s site has grown to 15 million visits a month with eight million monthly unique visitors. “We currently generate revenue of Rs 10 crore. We are now a team of 55 people (doubled from six months ago),” adds Kumar.
MySmartPrice has raised Rs 6 crore in funding from Bengaluru-based Accel and Mauritius-based Helion over two rounds. “We are open to further funding, though we’re not actively seeking it,” says the founder.
In the next two years, MySmartPrice aims to become the ultimate shopping research destination. For this, the company intends to add all available categories of products online, including home and furnishing, sports equipment, baby care, and gaming, which are currently not available on the site. “We intend to make the product easier to use and make it available across all mobile platforms. In addition to this, we also plan to expand our marketing budget to enhance customer reach and brand recall,” Kumar shares.
The company has already grown from a humble team of eight to 56 in a matter of six months and plans to aggressively hire in the coming months as well. And, from the Rs 10 crore revenue generated this year, Kumar hopes for the company to grow by three to four times in the next three years.
In all, the founder duo envisions MySmartPrice as the one-step destination for shopping research across all categories, at ecommerce stores in India.
Founders: Sitakanta Ray and Sulakshan Kumar
Funded by: Accel Partners, Helion
Focus: Online Shopping Research