We spoke to Sahil Chalana, one of the Founders of Zoutons.com, an online Coupon Aggregation and deal Discovery portal. Sahil, a BITS Pilani Alumnus, is also the CEO of 3.14 Digital , a digital performance marketing firm founded by him in 2010. 3.14 Digital has a large client base including, Educomp Raffles, NIIT Imperia, Foodpanda India etc.
Q: So What is Zoutons.com all about and What is the Business Model?
The Business Model is simple, we direct traffic onto the shopping portal websites where users apply the coupons they have discovered on our website. This way we generate transactions for these stores and pay us an affiliate commission for every transaction, which varies from 5-20% of the sale.
Apart from this, we are the only Couponing Portal to Feature Exclusive Bank Coupons. So if you are searching for HDFC Bank Coupons or the Citibank Card offers, we have the most updated list of card offers.
We also offer brand wise coupons which further reduces the effort of users in finding appropriately matched coupons to their shopping needs.
The portal is ergonomically designed for startup stores, providing them a genuine platform to enhance their consumer reach through coupons.
Q: Why Zoutons.com and how did it all start?
I am also the founder 3.14 Digital, a 30 people strong Digital Performance Marketing company having specializations in Lead Generation and Cost per Acquisition (CPA) models for Education, BFSI & ecommerce verticals.
At a point in the beginning of 2013, when our ecommerce revenue was really picking, Nishit, who is the other founder, came up with the idea of getting into a coupon Aggregation Platform for e-retailers.
Since internally many of us were Discount and Bargain Hunters, launching Zoutons was also in a way gratification for us as well as a step to diversify as a company. We launched Zoutons in July 2013.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from other couponing Portals?
We try to differentiate ourselves from our competitors in several ways.
First, we put of a lot of Focus on the coupon & deal Quality. At the end of the day, it’s all about giving your users the best experience which in our case the best coupons which they could use.
Second, we are the only site to focus on coupons and offers by Banks and brands. When the user goes to an e-commerce site, he might easily miss the fact that his bank is offering him a discount. On Zoutons, you can look for bank wise Coupons and not miss any.
Real Time coupon Syndication & feeds – We also do some real time coupon syndication. Lot of couponing websites do this manually. We are trying to automate this. Also, since 30% of traffic of ours is already mobile, there is a greater focus we are putting on getting the mobile piece right.
Q: What is your Current Team size and growth Plans?
The zoutons.com team consists of 6 people, ably assisted by the Affiliate team from 3.14 Digital. Most of the time is spent on training people on how to deliver the best of Coupon and Deals to our Users.
Right now we offer deals, discounts and coupons on around 300 Stores, 50 banks and 450 Brands. We have an aim to touch 700 Stores and 1500 brands by end March 2014. From a user point of we just crossed 100,000 users in December this year. We would like to touch a million users served by February.
Q: Tell us about your Technology Platform and upcoming features?
The Coupon Aggregation Platform is built on Open source LAMP. The Technology is in-house though the initial Design was outsourced.
From a Features point of view, our biggest priority is going Mobile. We are currently in the process of coming with an Android app and a much faster version of the current Mobile Website.
We are also building real time Coupon Syndication Engine that would add and update coupons just when they are created an ecommerce stores so that there is manual Lag. In future, we would like to have more personalization feature that shows coupons according to users’ past buying experience.
Q: Have you raised any Funding? What is it that you are looking for from the next round?
We have internally incubated Zoutons and have put in cash of around Rs 20 Lacs. We are using that fund to build our technology and team.
The Angel round is enough to sustain us till March. Once we have crossed a milestone of serving a million visitors, we would like approach investors with the possibility of a next round.
Q: Who are the Founders and their background?
Zoutons.com was founded by me and Nishit Kumar. I am also the founder of 3.14 Digital, a top affiliate Marketing company and had graduated from BITS Pilani in 2010.
Nishit Kumar who is the other founder of Zoutons and is currently leading the team, joined 3.14 Digital as an Associate in early 2013. He graduated from Lovely Professional University in 2012.