Interview with Koovs co-founder – Rajesh Kamra – Part I

It was a breezy Monday afternoon in Bangalore for India Deal Sites blog’s first interview. I was at the Koovs office in Koramangala when I suggested it looks like the perfect afternoon to go on a long drive. “Probably another day” replied Rajesh in a warm, easy-going manner. Young, adventurous and spirited – Rajesh co-founded Koovs when the Groupon craze was yet to reach Indian shores. We agreed on the interview format and got down to it right away.

 

Here’s the transcript of the interview:

 

Rajesh Kamra

Koovs' Co-founder Rajesh Kamra

 

Praveen (PR): Tell us about the story behind Koovs. How did it all start?
Rajesh Kamra (RK): We were a team of 3 IIT-ians along with Manish Tiwari & Amit Shukla. I was working in strategic consulting with HSBC while Manish and Amit were with e-commerce companies. One day, we came across this concept of localized marketing. We realized that many of the local vendors do not have access to online marketing or didn’t understand the space too well but wanted to reach out to local customers. We thought there was an opportunity here and something could be done towards that end.

 

So, we founded Koovs in December 2009 and tried to create relationships with vendors and merchants in various lifestyle businesses like restaurants, spas, adventure sports, events – which a typical online, social crowd would be interested in. The merchants were quite interested and enticed by the idea of reaching out to customers. The issue was in giving out those hefty discounts. So initially, there were some hiccups in making them understand that it was not a sales cut but a marketing spend, which isn’t paid upfront and that it completely depends on the sales generated from running that deal. Slowly over time, there were a few offers coming in from owners of restaurants, health centres and spas who were interested in trying it out. We started with that and went live on 23rd December, 2009.

 

Rajesh on the daily deals space as it caught on with people

 

But, it wasn’t until that paragliding deal when things really took off for us. Hundreds bought that deal. And then the network effects took over. We’d merchants who were ready to offer 80-90% discount after that. It was a turning point for us.

 

PR: During that period, December 2009, there were very few players in the Indian deals space. You guys were there even before SnapDeal and Deals&You

RK: To be honest, I didn’t know about the other deal sites at that point in time. We went about meeting merchants and during one of those visits, we found out that one of them had been approached by other parties with a similar pitch. So that’s how we actually found out! We got to know about MyDala and then Grabbon which got sold out a few months later to…
PR: SnapDeal.
RK: to SnapDeal. Yes, exactly. And then there were several other players coming in and the space really heated up. But, we had the conviction that this would work as it made business sense and we never looked back.

 

Rajesh on the most popular categories on Koovs.com


PR:
Coming back to the same question. In December 2009, as an early entrant in this market, how did the early mover advantage play out? Or was it actually that much more difficult to get these deals since this concept itself was quite new and deals space wasn’t popular or mature enough as it is today?

RK: Well, there were two major issues or concerns when we started. First, with the merchants – Will they buy this kind of marketing platform? And the second – Will the consumers buy it? The point is OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) showed that people would buy online if there was value being created with the convenience factor playing a huge role. The best way to find out was to go and talk to the merchants directly. We did that and simultaneously reached out to our friends, posted on various blogs, social media sources, corporate newsletters and places like that. And there was traction as the customers were happy since they were getting 50-90% discount on places they normally visit, or would like to visit. So, the risk for them to experiment was lesser while at the same time, the merchants were getting new customers. It picked up from there. Thankfully, the merchants warmed up to the idea and realized the value in it. And that is one reason why we also have many repeat businesses from merchants.

 

PR: Could you give us some stats. How many cities is Koovs active in? How many users have signed up?
RK: We’re one the top 700 sites in India now (Alexa ranks them at #686). We’ve over 5-lakh subscribers with over 20% of them having transacted with us. We’re a pan-India player but the localized offers are concentrated in the metros as of now. We are yet to capture the tier-2 cities and we are planning to get there shortly as we are expanding.

 

PR: Which is your most popular category? In terms of the number of deals sold and the overall sales volume generated.
RK: Food & dining and health & beauty categories are quite popular. Travel space and adventure sports are also doing really well. Koovs is also into products and that’s a big hit.

PR: I think Koovs were the first to pivot into product space right?

RK: That’s right. It was based on the feedback we got. There were a lot of requests coming in from our existing customers that they would also like to see deals on mobiles, pen drives, hard disks and the like. So, we went ahead and introduced it.

 

 

–End of Part I–

 

[Click here for Part 2 of the interview]

 

[Click here for Part 3 of the interview]

 

About Praveen

Co-founder at Wooplr.com. Check out my blogs at blog.wooplr.com
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  • vikas
    • Pawan

      whats it about???

      • Sharmil

        RedAnar is a free location-based mobile service that lets you stay informed about offers and promotions available on your privilege card programs. Add your privilege cards and RedAnar will show you places where you can save money and get rewarded for shopping. There is no need to collect coupons or leaflets, etc.. any more. Currently available for iPhone, Android and Mobile WAP.

  • Ashishpatel1988

    fraud company. I purchased a product from koovs.com and its been 15 days , they havent shipped it. Customer support is very poor. Looks like they have tied with cyber cafe from south for a customer support. I am going to a court and possible a news channel.

  • Rajeev

    Yes….All the onlines buyers are hereby warned not to buy any items from “koovs”, as they never supply the items ordered & after this if you try calling them to their so called customer support phone no., you will never get connected and you will losse further for the paid calls from your mobile! Very bad service…..In infact, I am looing up the contact no. of the co-founder Mr. Rajesh Kamra, if soneone can help!

  • Unhappy Koovs Customer

    Sounds good but to me they are a bunch of cheats people who have taken my money up front. I asked to cancel the order and 20 days later still not given me a refund when I asked for a cancellation.

    Does that sound trust worthy to you.

  • Info
  • True Seller

    They have posted products at such a low price ,, that even the landing cost is more than what is posted…. this has to be a fake post …. IIT-ians… they should be asked to endorse their certificates…. Huhh ,,, Its India … and because of such fakers .. Indian Online shopping customer fears of buying online….

  • True Seller

    They have posted products at such a low price ,, that even the landing cost is more than what is posted…. this has to be a fake post …. IIT-ians… they should be asked to endorse their certificates…. Huhh ,,, Its India … and because of such fakers .. Indian Online shopping customer fears of buying online….

  • J_naved

    I have purchased a hp 16 gb pen drive (dated-14/12/2011 ; invoice number- koovs-1-13737 )which is still running under warranty period is not working properly. It’s quite astonishing to see that a pen drive of such a company have started showing defect . For your kind perusal I am attaching it’s detail. It’stransaction number is 291154 and order number is 297953;delivery method bd.I hope that immediate action should be taken and my pen drive should be replaced with the new one or it should be replaced immediately.Thanks for the company
    and I had already visited to service center near by and they said that ” only laptops and notebooks are serviced and replaced.”(Address of hp service center -swaroop nagar kanpur)
    my contact number : 8765469030
    I hope you’LL understand my problem because I’M a student and I have lot of work in daily life as the present generation is mostly based on electronics products.
    And I am tired to send mails again and again to the koovs company but they are not showing any response.

  • Aban1980

    They are a bunch of cheats all right….it has been 28 days and i am yet to receive my product…whereas ebay and flipkart deliver orders in less than two days…do these koovs fellows think they can survive that sort of competition with the service they are dishing out!!

  • Rakesh M

    i placed an order on koovs.com for a personal care product on 5th march and still not recd my stuff.

    i believed that koovs is FRAUD company….BEWARE guys dont buy anything from koovs.

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