An excerpt from the Interview:
What made you start your venture?
We started this venture due to a problem that we personally faced. Apurv was in Mumbai, and was looking to send a gift to his girlfriend in Delhi. On searching for a gift online, he was flooded with a large number of gifting options, but no website could really help him decide what to gift. Prateek was faced with the same problem when he was pursuing his management studies at IE Business School in Spain, and was looking to send a gift back home on his parents’ anniversary.
There were a large number of gifting websites, but no one actually suggested what would make a good gift for his parents. Confused, and disappointed, he called up his sister back home, and asked her to go buy a nice gift from the mall. They both spoke about this, and realized that this was a problem faced by a large number of people on a frequent basis. They knew that this was something that they could solve using technology. Apurv quit his high paying corporate job at Bain, and Prateek moved back to India to start Wishpicker.
What has been the key to your business’s success?
The very problem that we are solving is the main reason for our success. The inability to figure out WHAT to gift is such a common problem, that when people hear of Wishpicker, they tend to tell more and more people about the concept.
Also, the gift recommendations made by Wishpicker are so relevant, it ensures that anyone who comes to Wishpicker looking for a gift does not go away disappointed. This keeps customers coming back again and again.
The team behind the venture perfectly matches the requirements of a technology-focused start-up. Prateek (B.Tech, Computer Science, IIT Delhi), and Tejendra (B.Tech, Computer Science, IIT Patna) are at the helm of technical affairs. Their proficiency with technology enables Wishpicker to move at a rapid pace, and roll out new features very frequently. Apurv handles operations and marketing, and his management consulting experience at Bain & Co (where he advised leading multinationals on their core issues) comes in handy here.
What are the major challenges in your line of business, and how did you overcome them? The biggest challenge was in building the right team. Without a great team, your business is destined to fail. At a start up, you will never be short of work, and will constantly feel the need for more people. The key is to not hire in a hurry, and make sure that the candidate is not only talented and hardworking, but also fits in well with the culture of the company. An additional team member may help you take a step forward, but a wrong hire will push you two steps behind! Another challenge was to ensure that if someone comes to Wishpicker looking for a gift, he/she does not go away disappointed. This was made possible by the use of machine learning in our gift recommendation algorithm. Wishpicker’s algorithm reads user insights, and becomes more and more intelligent as the number of people using it increases. As a result, we are able to maintain a conversion rate much higher than that of vanilla e-commerce stores.
Do you have a mentor who guides/ advices you on matters of business?
Yes, it is always good to take advice from experienced mentors, who are more often than not, very willing to help. One of our mentors is a gentleman with 12 years of experience in the internet space. He advises us regularly on customer acquisition, and marketing techniques.
He helps us ensure that we never lose track of the big picture, while working on smaller day-to-day tasks. Another mentor of ours is a senior from IIT Delhi, who runs a technology startup. He advises us on all matters relating to technology.
Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology in your business?
Yes, we have benefitted tremendously from the use of machine learning in our gift recommendation algorithm. Incorporating machine learning helped us make the algorithm more effective and intelligent. The algorithm learns from user trends and behaviour, and figures out what kinds of gifts are relevant for a particular occasion/ relationship.
This helps us minimize human intervention, and use technology to ensure that Wishpicker does not disappoint anyone struggling to figure out what to gift.
What strategy do you follow for Customer satisfaction & Expansion?
The best strategy to ensure customer satisfaction is to keep the customer happy, and give them what they want. We achieve this by ensuring that our customers are able to find a gift when they’re unable to decide what to gift. Happy customers help us in brand building via word of mouth, thereby bringing in additional customers.
Apart from word of mouth, we get a large no of customers via social media, and search engines. We receive calls from a number of people requesting ‘wishpicker’ to help them pick the right gifts. This very feeling, of helping people make their loved ones happy, is what keeps us going.
What according to you are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
The top skills for any entrepreneur are:
1. Conviction: People will try to pull you down all the time. They will dismiss your business model, and tell you that you are wasting your time. If you do not have 200% conviction in your business, it becomes very difficult to survive the lows.
2. Patience: It takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Patience is the biggest virtue that you will need to possess. Things may take time to turn, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Leadership: The most important component of any business is a rockstar team. To keep the team motivated, and to ensure that they are enjoying their work, you will need to be a very good leader.
Looking for the perfect gift for a loved one? Visit http://www.wishpicker.com/ Like them on Facebook: Wishpickercom