“Quikr is the largest horizontal classifieds player in the country. We are the market leaders in terms of quality as well as quantity,” states Pranay Chulet, co-founder and CEO, Quikr India Pvt. Ltd. (Quikr). The numbers reiterate his stand – Quikr.com gets 17 million unique users every month and has millions of listings on its website at any given point in time. Set up in 2008, the Mumbai-based company operates across 83 cities and lists about 100 categories such as cars, jobs, electronics, lifestyle etc. It caters to quite a young audience with a majority of its users being under 35 years of age, technology savvy and upwardly mobile. Consumers who use Quikr every month have grown more than 100 per cent over the last year.
To help diversify its services and scale up, Chulet has also been actively raising funds for Quikr through five rounds of investment. Quikr’s investors include Matrix Partners India, Omidyar Network, Norwest Venture Partners, Nokia Growth Partners, Warburg Pincus and eBay Inc. “We have raised about US $50 million to date and enjoy the backing of some of the best names in the venture capital and private equity business around the globe,” says Chulet. It is definitely a marker of the potential online horizontal classifieds market holds in India. “The horizontal classifieds market in the country will continue to grow at a fast rate. That’s because it’s a particularly well suited platform for the Indian market. It attracts those who are e-commerce savvy and also appeals to those who may not even own credit cards,” he adds.
I always say a market with too many players is different from a market with noise. Anyone can put up a website, but it takes a lot more than that to build a classifieds business.
Breaking past the clutter
Quikr originated with a simple idea – to create a place where people in India can come to buy, sell and rent things from each other. But the world of classifieds brims with many players, multiple avenues and innumerable options to explore. That does not daunt Chulet. “I always say a market with too many players is different from a market with noise. Anyone can put up a website, but it takes a lot more than that to build a classifieds business. It takes the right long-term view, right strategy, resources, skills and patience. It’s a winner-takes-all business and only those who have the desire, and very importantly, the means to go after it with full force will emerge as winners,” says Chulet.
According to him, Quikr offers more listings, more responses to listings, and a cleaner, simpler experience than others and above all, stays honest to its name by offering a quicker way for people to transact as compared to other platforms in the market. “Behind all this is a top-quality team. We believe all these factors, combined with our resources, form a formidable combination,” adds Chulet.
Co-founder: Pranay Chulet
Investors: Matrix Partners India, Omidyar Network, Norwest Venture Partners, Nokia Growth Partners, Warburg Pincus and eBay Inc. for US $50 million
Though the mode of print classifieds has a longer history than its online counterpart, Chulet believes the trend of online classifieds growing over print will slowly gain strength. “There is only one way the river will flow. While there is a lot to learn from print as it will have a good place in India for the foreseeable future, but at the same time, there is no question that online classifieds will grow at print’s expense,” he says.
Evolving with time
Initially christened Kijiji.in of eBay, Kijiji India was then rebranded to Quikr and Chulet stepped in as its CEO. But Quikr is not his first experience in the digital domain. He worked at Booz Allen Hamilton (now Booz & Co) where he focused on advising media companies in the U.S. He turned an entrepreneur when he launched Excellere, a company focused on the digital education space, before returning to India to build Quikr. An IIT-Delhi and IIM-Kolkata graduate, he also incubated an online venture at Walker Digital, the incubator that launched Priceline.com.
Back in 2008, Chulet noticed that there were inefficient and ineffective solutions to get a fair price for anything one wanted to sell or offer as an individual, whether it was a used phone, furniture or a flat. Quikr was born to solve this problem. Chulet was inspired by Craigslist to develop Quikr and he doesn’t see why replicating foreign business ideas modelled to India won’t stand the test of time. “Digital classifieds is a model that has been proven over and over around the world. It has worked successfully in every market where it has been launched, whether it is the U.S. or any of the European countries, South America or China. There is no doubt that it is as applicable to India as well and our success to date proves that.”
However, creating a new business is never easy and Chulet faced many challenges. “But in our case, things like funding have not been a challenge and we’ve been able to scale our business as per our plans quite irrespective of what’s happening in the market in terms of funding sentiment,” he shares. But Quikr’s biggest challenge is to make sure that it doesn’t let its users’ experience get impacted by its fast growth. “For example, the number of people posting advertisements on Quikr has been consistently growing fast. It makes it tougher for us to sift through the inventory on our website and serve up the right listings for a consumer. But it’s a great challenge to have. I would choose the problem of plenty any day over the problem of scarcity,” he adds.
Quikr generates revenues via advertising, premium listings that have more visibility compared to its free advertisements and by providing customer leads to sellers. But it’s important to note that the momentum of the mobile platform will be a major area of thrust for its growth. “It is a non-trivial part of our business now and is as important to us as our online business. It’s going to make Quikr’s growth even quicker,” says Chulet.
When Omidyar Network invested in Quikr, it was clear about the company’s social impact model. Quikr helps small enterprises like tiffin services and travel agents to grow their business. It also helps women entrepreneurs launch their businesses, helps students locate education opportunities and get employment. And along the way, it has evolved its business model as well. “We have gone from being focused on growing our user base to focusing on user base growth as well as monetisation. But we’ve always ensured that we are the undisputed leader in the market and we will relentlessly continue to focus on that and build on our leadership,” states Chulet.
The company also believes in marketing that creates value for its users. “Our marketing money is spent in a way that it genuinely helps our users conduct more successful transactions whether they are looking to sell, buy, rent or find something.” Quikr will continue to expand its footprint in terms of cities as well as categories covered. It will also continue to market aggressively, build its brand further and make significant investments to enhance its product and technology. “Going forward, we will continue to pursue the same strategy in an aggressive fashion. We lead the industry in the horizontal classifieds space and we have no intention of doing anything but building on that lead further,” ends Chulet.
- Build on its mobile business that will form an important part of its growth
- Plans to expand to more cities and cover more categories in the horizontal classifieds space
- Make significant investments in its product and technology
- Continue to market more aggressively