An Excerpt from the Interview What made you start your venture?
In 2010, I started FreeKaaMaal.com with the aim of providing low priced deals, offers, and free products to my readers. The website was initially started as a simple blog with Rs.1500 Investment (Domain Purchase + Web Hosting). It has evolved into a big portal serving more than 50,000+ users daily. Right now, we have a team of 17 talented individuals handling everything from Ops to MKT.
What has been the key to your business’s success?
“It’s all about Making a Loyal Customer Base” this is my mantra for our success, At FreeKaaMaal we are able to provide killer deals because of the huge forum and loyal customer base that we have. Harnessing other’s intelligence and running a forum is always a challenging task to accomplish but at FreeKaaMaal we have accomplished this task successfully. Today our forum has more than 1 lakh users & millions of deals and coupons.
Every day thousands of shoppers flock to the FreeKaaMaal Forum not only to access the latest coupons but also to share their new findings and shopping tips.
What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
Hiring a talented workforce is the main challenge that we have faced in our journey. Everybody from content writers to developers wants to work in a big company and nobody wants to risk their career by working in a startup. But over a period of time, we have changed our hiring strategy.
We have realized that we need more people to handle the company’s rapid growth and we knew that in order to compete with big players, we’d have to take them from larger companies. So we immediately began putting an employee benefits plan in place.
We have introduced a whole new Career section on our website where a new joiner could get to know more about the company, it’s culture & other team members. We have also introduced stock options to retain and acquire the best talent from the industry. Today, FreeKaaMaal boasts of a progressive benefits package that includes medical benefits, lucrative appraisal system, paid time off and a host of other amenities, including free food at the office.
Do you have a mentor who guides/advice you on matters of the business?
FreeKaaMaal was founded in my MBA hostel room, in the initial days I have taken advice from my faculty who have helped me in mapping my marketing strategy. After passing out, we have contacted a few people and added them to our Board. Right now, we have a team of Industry specialists help us form the company strategy and guide us through dilemmas.
Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Technology is the backbone of our growth, we use advanced tools to streamline our internal processes and increase our operational efficiency. Whether it’s payroll management or project management, we have cloud-based software for most of our work. Some examples of tools that we use are QuickBooks for Accounting and Invoicing, Google Apps for email, chat, voice, and video conferencing, Basecamp for project management.
What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
Just like most of the other businesses, Customer is King; we take every single complaint very seriously. We have this internal SLA among team members where they had to respond to customer queries within a stipulated time. Expansion: Over the past 2.5 years we have grown a lot, our customer base has almost tripled and website traction is doubled. Currently, our strategy for expansion is to Go MOBILE. Nowadays everybody wants everything on mobile and we see a huge potential in this segment. We are already working on our new app for Android smartphone users and making our site compatible for mobile devices.
What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Three important skills that every entrepreneur should have are:
Do what you love: If you are going into business just for the sake of money, then you can’t be successful. The main motto is not to earn money but to love what you’re doing. The money will come automatically. I started FreeKaaMaal.com because I love free stuff and love saving money online. I never thought that the blog that I started in the year 2010 would turn out to be so big, I started this as a hobby and when you do what you love, things will work out.
Planning & Management: Running a company is not an easy task, being a startup you have so much work to do with little money. If you are not organized you will end up destroying the whole company.
Customer is always right: Customers are always the key to any business if you are not making your customer happy you will end up losing them. For an entrepreneur, his customer is the most important asset and each and every strategy should revolve around your customers.