Exclusive Interview: Rohan Bhargava, Co-Founder Cashkaro.com

rohanWe spoke to Rohan Bhargava,  one of the Co-Founders of Cashkaro.com, a cashback site launched in India by Pouring Pounds.

Rohan is currently working full time with Pouring Pounds Ltd, a company he Co-Founded in 2011. Prior to this, he has several years of experience in the hedge fund industry in London. Rohan was last a Portfolio Manager at Aladdin Capital, overseeing a portfolio of $1 billion in structured credit assets. Rohan graduated from the London School of Economics with a BSc. in Economics.

WD: So Rohan, tell us what is your site all about? What problem are you solving?

cashkaroRohan: Cashkaro.com is a cashback and coupon website. We have tie-ups with over 200 of India’s leading e-commerce websites like Myntra, Yatra, Jabong and Firstcry. For every sale that we bring to our e-commerce partners we get paid a commission. Rather than keep this for ourselves, we pass most of this back to the users as cashback. So users now get Cashback on things they were buying anyway!

We also have hundreds of coupons and offers that users can use in addition to getting Cashback.

Our model helps create a new ecosystem for online sales. Cashkaro.com drives sales to sites like Yatra, Myntra, Tradusby giving users additional incentives of cashback and coupons. Retailers get better return-on-investment as they only pay when a sale happens. Users are happier with extra discounts and retailers save on their marketing expenses.

WD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced?

Rohan: The Company was founded in the UK in 2011. The Groupon idea of Daily Deals had become very popular, but we felt there was a gap in the market for discounts on every day shopping. For example, discount on groceries, books, electronics and travel.

So we started to tie-up with top UK brands like Tesco, Debenhams, M&S and Expedia to do exactly that. These brands were happy to pay us commission for new sales, which we passed back to users as cashback. Brands were getting better return-on-investment, since they only paid for sales and users loved getting extra cash.

Today we work with over 2,500 top retailers in the UK and operate 7 different cashback sites, including the site for UK’s largest newspaper.

A key challenge has been finding high quality developers and marketers. Our technology powers cashback sites for some very large organizations so having top notch developers is critical. For almost every position in the company we have interviewed over 30 people to find the right blend of hardwork, team spirit and common sense.

 WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

The Company was founded by the husband and wife team of Rohan and Swati Bhargava. Prior to founding Pouring Pounds, Swati spent several years in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs. Her last role at Goldman was in the Executive Office where she managed client engagements for the two Goldman Co-CEOs. Swati was also nominated for the Asian Women of Achievement Award awards in 2012. Swati graduated from the London School of Economics with a BSc. in Mathematics & Economics.

Prior to founding Pouring Pounds, Rohan spent over 8 years in the hedge fund industry in London. Rohan was last a Portfolio Manager at Aladdin Capital, overseeing a portfolio of $1 billion structured credit assets.Rohan also graduated from the London School of Economics with a BSc. in Economics.

 WD: How is your site so different when there are already websites selling similar products?

Rohan: In India cashback is still very new. Our main competition comes from coupon sites operating in India. Our main USP over these coupons sites is the additional cashback we offer. For example, let’s take a coupon on Jabong that both a Coupon site and Cashkaro.com has. After the sale, both sites get paid a commission from Jabong. While the Coupon site keeps all the commission, we pass most of this commission back to the user as cashback. This makes the Cashkaro.com value proposition for the user more attractive as they get both coupons and cashback.

 WD: What will be the market size of your niche in India?

Rohan: The scope of our market is almost every online shopper in India. Since we work with almost every major online retailer, shopping via Cashkaro.com is beneficial to every online shopper.

WD: How do you see the future of eCommerce in India shaping up ?

Rohan: I recently read that in 2013, India will have the 3rd largest online community after the US and China. eCommerce does have challenges like confidence in online payments and logistics, but there is no denying that eCommerce in India is the future.

I believe there is a huge opportunity in online sales of branded products like FMCG or even groceries. Businesses like Goodlife and Grocerywaale shall be very popular in the coming years. We have already seen how eCommerce has changed the travel industry in India and the same shall happen in various other sectors also.

WD: What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

Rohan: Our core platform is built on open source technologies like PHP and MySql.  All our development is done in-house. We have an extremely capable and qualified team of developers and designers.

WD: What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?

Rohan: We have several really innovative ideas going live in the next few months. One such idea is a cashback / coupon reminder tool. Users just need to install this on their browsers like Chrome once. Now when they shop online on say Foodpanda.com, they will automatically receive a message on their browser with our cashback and coupon offers. No more searching for deals, the deals find you.

We have other such great ideas in the pipeline, that address making the shopping experience easier, while allowing for best price discovery.

 WD: Which locations is it available?

Rohan: Anyone in India can use and save with Cashkaro.com as it is online.

WD: What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

Rohan: In order to reach our target market, we are creating partnerships with leading mobile recharge companies like Rechargeitnow.com. Today many of the cashback deals on Rechargeitnow.com are provide by Cashkaro. We are creating similar partnerships with various other online businesses to create great synergies.

We are also working hard on traditional ideas like SEO, Facebook Ads and some guerilla marketing ideas like banners on autos.

WD: Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

Rohan: Last year we were selected to present our business at an angel investment event at the London Business School. We got great feedback and received investment from one of the investors present.

We are looking at doing another funding round in India or the UK once we establish some more B2B partnerships in India. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with potential investors.

Did you like this interview ? If you have questions for Rohan, do put it on the comments section. You can connect with Rohan on LinkedIn.


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