Shop, and get paid too!

Priyanka Pani
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Swati Bhargava, founder
Swati Bhargava, founder has 350 e-commerce companies

Get paid to shop more, is this company’s mantra. Even as the Indian e-commerce market is set to take off, players are trying out different methods to get people shop more online and save the maximum on every purchase. The New Delhi-based cash back site is one such that literally pays you in cash for shopping online.

Started by husband wife team of Rohan Bhargava (33) and Swati Bhargava (30) in April this year, has gained enough traction that can be measured by the number of e-commerce players it has partnered with. It has over 350 e-commerce companies, including Snapdeal, Myntra and Yatra on its site and is adding five to 10 retailers in India every month.

Revenue model

On its revenue model, Swati Bhargava said, “When you go to any of these sites via Cashkaro and shop, retailers pay us commission for that sale. We give our members cash back from this. We also sell coupons. So even if Myntra has 70 per cent off sale going on you can still get Rs 180 cash back on top of that from us - more savings than any other deal site in India. All you need to do is first visit the e-commerce portal via Cashkaro and then shop.”

Cashback, an established concept in the US, the UK and Europe, is gaining in popularity in India. “For a growing e-commerce market like India, the potential for cash back sites is huge because you are in effect, taking a small percentage of the entire e-commerce spend in India,” Swati added.

According to recent studies by Internet and Mobile Association of India and research firm IMRB, the number of online shoppers in India will grow 60 per cent by 2015 to reach 39 million and size of the e-commerce market will be at $70 billion.

Swati and her husband initially started a cash back company called Pouring Pounds in the UK in 2011, which was more a B2B operation for large organisations such as the Daily Mail newspaper. The company raised £50,000 in 2012 at the London Business School Angel investing event.

Globally, too cash back sites such as Ebates in the US and in the UK have gross revenues of over $100 million and are valued at much more, Swati said, adding that since the model is tried and tested, she thought of applying the model in the Indian market. “Indians love savings! We value money and why won’t we want to save money when it is so easily possible,’ she quipped.

In 2013, Pouring Pounds entered the Indian market as Cashkaro and has raised $750,000. “Fundraising is never easy, but I think investors could see that a cash back model that is hugely successful in the West is bound to do well in India too and hence we closed our round really quick,” Swati said adding that is primarily a B2C business with retailers and shoppers being the major stakeholders.

For Cashkaro, it makes sense to tie up with retailers on a commission basis, which is lower than what they pay on Google to acquire a customer. Cashkaro does all the marketing activities for these retailers.

The company has offices in Gurgaon and Chennai with about 20 employees. It plans to expand globally.

Born and brought up in Ambala, a small town north of Delhi, Swati got a scholarship to study in Singapore, and then went to London School of Economics, where she met Rohan.

She worked with Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking Division for five years after which she quit to become an entrepreneur, a trait that she got in her genes.

“Both our fathers are successful entrepreneurs, and our families were supportive though being family they were also scared that in recessionary environment we are leaving safe and well-paying jobs to start on our own. Not easy but sometimes you have to take risks in life and go with your gut,” Swati feels.

Tough task

On challenges, Swati said that she faced difficulty in getting good talent and resources for her company. “I don’t know if we’ve overcome this challenge yet, but we just try harder by getting more recruitment agents involved and doing a lot of online searches and interviews ourselves,” she added.

The company is launching other services on the site that can improve the user experience. The company is targeting close to $30 million in revenues in the next four years.

(This article was published on November 16, 2013)
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