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Ankur Warikoo

CEO | 09 Apr 2012

Social media is very big when it comes to promoting deals and it already accounts to five per cent of our revenue. This is why we invested in a shopping cart, so that people can actually buy by clicking on the Facebook page.

Ankur Warikoo, CEO, Crazeal.com has had an exciting career path spanning nine years, covering the management consulting and internet space. He began his career at NIS Sparta, a large corporate training consulting firm, where he was involved in designing training modules and developing psychometric tools.

His next stint was at AT Kearney Consulting as an Associate, overseeing projects across multiple industries. He then co-founded Accentium Web in early 2007 and later joined Rocket Internet GmbH in 2010.

Warikoo’s tryst with Groupon began as an extension of his role at Rocket Internet GmbH, when he served as a consultant for North India Sales and Operations before becoming the CEO for the company’s India unit.

Warikoo holds a management degree from the Indian School of Business (ISB) and a Masters degree in Physics and Statistics from Michigan State University.

Catch him in a free-wheeling chat with exchange4media’s Shree Lahiri

Q. How has the journey been for Groupon in India?

Started in 2008, Groupon is a company based in Chicago, US. We were recognised as one of the fastest growing companies by a Forbes study in 2011. We are present in 45 countries with 150 million subscribers. India is the newest entrant of the group. In India we entered through the acquisition of SoSasta.com in April 2011. When we started off, we had the name SoSasta, but we realised that it was a misfit. One, the word, ‘sasta’ is in Hindi and does not have relevance across the country and two, from a business perspective, we realised that a lot of good quality merchants were not comfortable working with a brand called ‘sasta’, because it means ‘cheap’. Thus, we decided to take up a rebranding exercise.

Q. Tell us about your business structure?

Our business is structured around three basic categories, namely, local services, travel and Bread n Butter. The first one includes services such as food and beverages, restaurants, tattoos, spas, wellness, etc. Travel, which is very popular, does not just focus on ticketing. We have weekend getaway experiences such as a golf training session, river rafting, etc. We did sailing deals in Mumbai and a helicopter city tour in Bangalore with Deccan Aviation for the first time @Rs 2500 per person. Bread-n-Butter deals are physical products that can be shipped to your home.

Q. What is the target profile?

We target working professionals in the age group of 21 to 34. We do not focus on students because the offers we have do not have direct appeal for them.

Q. How effectively have you used social media for promoting your deals?

We are on Facebook and have 50,000 fans. Over 10,000 are speaking about the brand at any given point of time. We keep getting feedback from them on what deals to run. We are getting a lot of market research for free from our customers.

Social media is very big and it already accounts to five per cent of our revenue. This is why we invested in a shopping cart, so that people can actually buy by clicking on the Facebook page. We have 3000 followers on Twitter too.

Q. What are the business challenges that you face? How is crazeal.com different from other e-shopping companies?

The basic industry structure is the biggest challenge. It’s an aggressive and competitive market. There are low barriers to entry and anyone can start a website overnight. We want to create a culture of ‘brand chasers’ not ‘deal chasers’.

We are the only website that is a ‘full priced’ model. If a deal is for Rs 999, we ask for the full amount from the customer upfront. Unlike others, we don’t charge a token amount and pay the rest to the merchant. If we did that, we would be encouraging a deal-changing attitude, which is good from a short-term perspective as it creates more buzz, but is not good from a long-term perspective because it creates an attitude that one does not have to commit themselves to any brand and one does not have to value quality any more.

The second is getting merchants to see the benefit of working with us. As mentioned, we don’t charge anything from the merchant upfront, but share the risk with them, which is again something not anyone is doing in the market. We only keep a certain success fee. We make money only if the merchant does so.

Third, we are about ‘implicit’ shopping desires, while others are about ‘explicit’ shopping desires. The numbers of implicit desires are higher than explicit. We touch the impulsive nature of humans and get them to buy things that they’ve always wanted or for that matter, not always wanted.

Q. How have you undertaken promotions for the company?

Promotions have been online, predominantly on Google, Facebook, and Twitter. As far as traditional mass media goes, we are evaluating it and when the time is ripe, we’ll do so. We like to associate ourselves with something that has a strong connect – like a play we did recently at IIT Delhi.

Q. What will be your focus area in 2012? What is your strategy to become sustainable and profitable?

Our strategy is to focus on the quality of deals as only then can we be in the business for a long time. If you give the best quality of deals, customers will stay. We focus on one deal a day and make that special. We need to become more aggressive from a business perspective.

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