Jul 19, 2013

INTERVIEW with Discountbox.in Co-Founder Amol Ghormade

Date of Interview : July 19, 2013

DiscountBox.in helps you discover offers around you and businesses to promote their offers. In this exclusive interview with Startuptimes.in, Amol talks about what inspired him to execute the idea of discounts, coupons, offers into a Startup.

Mr Amol Ghormade tell us about you and Discountbox.in to our readers?
I am a computer engineering graduate from Amaravati University Maharashtra who always believed in innovation and creativity. After graduating I was more for creating and working on something innovative rather than getting a software job and settle down.  I started freelance marketing for small software companies in Pune that’s where I along with our co-founder thought about this offers platform DiscountBox. We wanted to organize offers information worldwide and make it universally available and useful and I believe we have now tool capable of doing that now.

How did you comeup with the idea of Discountbox.in?
“Often roaming casually around the city or scanning through TV, radio, newspapers we come across many hoardings and advertisements related to discounts, offers and sale but when we really want to buy something we hardly find any of them. We do find millions of group buying and daily deals websites which provide misleading and inflated discounts…” said Yamini (co-founder DiscountBox)
She wanted to buy furniture after she got married and struggled a lot running from HomeTown to HomeStop to HouseFull. This is true for most of us and happens every day since there is no service which gives information about discounts, offers and sale happening around us when we need them. We identified the problem and started solving it  that's how DiscountBox.in was born.

Discountbox.in business concept

How did you meet your Founder?
Yamini Dhote is my friend . She's an electrical engineer by profession and a crazy but conscious shopper. 

Have you attended any Entrepreneur Classes or workshops before launching your Startup?
I haven’t attended any but as they say we inherit all the teachings and learning from our ancestors. My ancestors were into agricultural related businesses and that is where I believe I got the risk taking and innovative thinking abilities.

How frequently do you update the deals on your site?
DiscountBox is in fact a cloud based and offers management and promotions platform for brands and retailers and on the other hand acts as a offers discovery service for shoppers. Brands and retailers keep updating their DiscountBox page with the latest offers almost every day.

What technology are you using to run Discountbox.in?
The platform relies on open source technologies and tools and is developed in JSF 2, PrimeFaces 3.0 runs on tomcat server and uses MySql database. It uses Lucene for search and indexing. 

Who are your competitors and what is your USP(unique selling proposition?
In terms of offers discovery service we are competing with the deals aggregators and coupon providers. In terms of offer management we would not say that we compete with but we are a scaled down competition to SAP`s real-time offers management platform.
Our USP: 
  1. A cloud-based approach for offers management, promotions and analytics
  2. DIY support
  3. A single tool which does all three offers management, promotions and analytics
  4. Just a onetime efforts to upload the offers management; promotions and analytics happens automatically
  5. Location based services to the shoppers so they know offers around them when they need 
Are you planning to release any apps in near future?
we are releasing a location aware DiscountBox app by the end of the July 2013

How does Discountbox.in make money? What's your revenue model?
We have following models:
1.Subscription model: this one`s for the ‘big guys’ the brands and retailer who want to MANAGE, PROMOTE and more importantly get ANALYTIC information on how their offers performed. A subscription is charged up-front in this model.
2.Commission model: this one is used by most of the ecommerce companies where in which they just want to promote their offers. We don’t charge then any subscription fees but the commission is charged only when the transaction happens via DiscountBox.
3.Free services: businesses can create a profile for free for their businesses on DiscountBox but they don’t get any explicit visibility by DiscountBox. 'They themselves need to promote their DiscountBox page and offers using DiscountBox badge and handle. Businesses typically put their DiscountBox handle in their promotional materials and advertisement for ex: To know more about our offers visit discountbox.in/Zilvers

What is your team size and when did you hire your first employee?
We are a small team based out of Pune and we hired our first employee when we were done developing first version of the product. The employee was responsible for marketing.

How do you pull traffic to Discountbox.in?
We primarily depend on search engines and social media to create awareness and attract shoppers.

With how much seed capital you started discountbox.in?
We started with a capital for Rs. 100,000/- the savings out of our jobs and consultations.

What is the future for Coupons, Deals, Discounts based Startups?
Well there is a great need for such platforms/services. Primarily due to raising prices but these startups can survive only if they provide real information and not inflated or misleading deals. During 2011-12 at least 500 websites came up with the group buying and daily deals concept. They just gave misleading and inflated deals and paid the price for that. They are dead now and some of them are already serving out of graves. 
What shoppers want is simple: 
best prices + nearby + every time we shop

On the other side brands, retailer and now a days small merchants are losing out money and reputation every time they provide discounts and inflated deals. Almost all the times discounts are given just to compete or because competitors are providing discounts without knowing what offers WORKS, WHERE and WHEN. Most of the times discounts may not be required at all because  of the quality of the product/services or due to various other reasons. Advertisements on TV, radio, newspapers or online advertisements reaches wider audiences but in most of the cases not to the potential buyers. Promotions with deals and group buying sites using inflated deals results losing credibility moreover customers they provide are deal hunters and not potential buyers.
What brands and retailers want is:
an efficient way to promote offers + how they perform + where they perform + when they perform

What campaign strategies are you using to promote Discountbox.in?
we are mostly relying on search engines and social media tools to attract shoppers. The reason for that is the while looking for offers we tend to search them or ask our friends (i.e. use social media). So our strategy is to improve SEO and social presence. 

What is your advice to future Startups?
Identify the real problem and provide real solution to that problem. Always have faith in your abilities and listen to your institution they help you go a long way even during challenging times.

What's the biggest challenge you faced in your startup and did you at any time think of dropping this idea?
Well every day a thousand challenges come your way when you are an startup entrepreneur. The biggest we faced is getting offers from physical stores everyday but never thought to drop this idea because of that. It just pushed us to think out of the box and identify multiple ways to fix this problem. While solving this we got good connections in the brand and retail industry, we could understand their functioning in a better way. 

Amol, If you were conducting this interview what question would you ask?
You almost covered everything that could be asked while introduction.

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Tags: Discountbox.in, Coupouns Startup business model india, Discounts site web revenue streams, technology for startups in india, deals aggregator startups india, offers mangement startups india, Yamini Dhote Founder Discountbox.in


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