With the proliferation of many online book stores that attracted buyers with ‘best-prices’, Kaipa Karthik, a programmer and an avid book-lover, identified a business opportunity in providing a ‘search engine’ to book buyers for comparing book prices across all major Indian book stores. It provides a book-lover with fast searches and the list of best-sellers thereby saving him time and money. The core team comprises Kaipa Kartik, Himanshu Govil and Afroz Mohiuddin. Kaipa Kartik, the programmer who likes to get things done and dusted with before anyone else can figure stuff out. While Kartik handles most of the development on the website, Himanshu Govil is the Marketing brain behind KBookSearch. From negotiating deals with bookstores to marketing Himanshu does it all. Afroz Mohiuddin, fondly called the ‘all-rounder’, manages the mobile app of KBookSearch, handles the content on the social properties, acts as a spokesman and does product management.
What made you start your venture? The itch to start something of our own was always there. You are your own boss and working for yourself is a much better motivator than working for someone else, fulfilling someone else’s dream. It is exciting to say the least, and underneath it all, we are all adventurers. What has been the key to your business’s success? A few factors: • We have always believed in focusing on our users and everything else just followed. To this end, we show the user the cheapest place to buy a book. There are no ads anywhere on the site so that the user has a very good experience and is not bothered by something he is not interested in seeing. • Another thing is that we have tried to optimize for speed, the site is one of the quickest and cleanest ones out there. We display interesting information about famous books and authors. • We are also the only price comparison engine, to our knowledge, which does spell correction. • Also this is a complete product for book buyers, there is an Android app to make it easier to use KBookSearch, a book lover’s blog where we write book reviews, a vibrant social media presence where we post updates and share interesting books and trivia. It also helps that we like to read. So in most cases making the product better for ourselves turns out to be the right decision. What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome? A lot of the stuff is purely technical. Figuring out what to use when, is a challenge. For example we debated long and hard before choosing which tools to actually use and finally ended up settling on App engine. Also once the actual product is built, you discover that you have to reach out to people and convince them to use it. So we are trying to extend our reach and introduce them to what we think is the best place to look for books.
Do you have a mentor who guides/ advices you on matters of the business? Not really. Sure we have benefited from discussions with a lot of different groups of people to take feedback for ideas etc but we rely mainly on each other for advice and ideas. Also it helps that there are three of us involved. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? We use Google App Engine for quite a few of our tasks. We have also enjoyed working with the Twitter Bootstrap and jQuery on the client side. These are extremely flexible and scalable technologies that allow us to serve the prices as fast as possible. What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion? We try to be really prompt to answer user queries and we are really very open to feedback. We are currently working on our marketing to acquire more customers. All of us are techies, so marketing is really not our forte. We are convinced that this is really the new way to buy books as it guarantees the lowest prices, in some cases the prices of books vary 4 times! We are sure people will love our product once they use it. We always emphasize on speed. Despite adding new features, we ensure that it doesn’t slow down the site. What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Although we wouldn’t go as far as calling ourselves ‘successful’, but based on our limited experience, we think that to be a successful entrepreneur one needs to be – • Resourceful: They should know how to get things done, if not do it themselves. • Visionary: Anticipate where and how the market will move and what it needs. • Persistence: There will be dark days when nothing will go right, but one has to persevere through these days. For more details – www.kbooksearch.com