Here’s the second in the three-part interview, where Rajesh talks about the BenefitsPLUS acquisition, the synergies created and how it’ll affect the future roadmap for Koovs.
Praveen (PR): How many merchants/vendors has Koovs tied up with?
Rajesh Kamra (RK): It’s a high 4 digit number across metros and including the tie-ups with vendors in the product space
PR: And the number of employees?
RK: As of today, we have 35 employees. We are on an expansion spree right now. So, by the end of this calender year we expect the number to be 100+.
PR: Though Koovs is an e-commerce company, it is also a marketing channel for merchants. What was Koovs’ marketing/advertising strategy and how much was spent on it?
RK: Yes, Koovs being an online maketing channel, it was necessary for us to know inside out of marketing, specifically digital marketing. Unlike other players, ours was very organic growth. We could have spent money on acquiring customers through online and offline ads or such branding activities. But we didn’t do that. So the entire growth that we had was very organic and word of mouth. We made use of social networking sites to put up the deals and most of our customer base was acquired from there through the viral effect that was created there. So, we never spent any money on marketing.
PR: BenefitsPLUS is a B2E player offering rewards & recognition programmes and are into the discounted deals section too – but again, targetted only at corporates.
PR: BenefitsPLUS recently acquired a majority stake in Koovs and are the holding company. How is this recent development going to shape the future of Koovs? And is Koovs going to look at only the consumer space or can we expect Koovs to expand into the enterprise space as well.
RK: We were very fortunate to have BenefitsPLUS partnering with us.
It was a very good synergy as we had the offers with us and they had the (corporate) customer base with them. So, we thought that this was the right kind of mix that would take both companies forward. Koovs as a brand will continue to focus on the consumer sector while BenefitsPLUS would take care of the enterprise sector. The synergy will be in terms of the deals, offers, employee benefits and merchant tie-ups. So, we might not be directly getting into the mail boxes of employees but we’ll definitely be powering the offers shown to them
PR: One of the reasons for the initial growth of SnapDeal.com could be attributed to the fact that they already had a network of merchants tied up with them through the parent company Jasper Infotech. They were into the couponing business at that time. So, when they launched snapdeal.com, they already had the muscle to get into the deals space much more easily. The entry barrier was less and the ability to scale up was so much easier. Would you say that due to the recent acquisition by BenefitsPLUS, Koovs is in a similar position today due to the synergies created?
RK: Well, yes. SnapDeal definitely picked up after they acquired Grabbon. Because that’s what really provided them the platform. We are in a much better position than Jasper was at that point in time. Because we ourselves have a very high aggregation of merchants that we have acquired over the last 18 months in various metros. And Koovs is a recognized brand. So, the kind of scaling we are looking at with BenefitsPLUS is even bigger. They’ve been in the market for an even longer time and the kind of corporate tie-ups that they have is much bigger.
PR: What is the roadmap for koovs for the next 2-3 years?
RK: We are doing really well in the metros and in the e-commerce products space too. We always believed that it’s the offers we put up that really matter. It’s what attracts our customers. So, we’ll continue to do that and we plan to expand to more cities. We also plan to have a wider range in terms of the categories and product catalogues on offer. And we also plan to provide our customers other platforms to buy deals
PR: What other platforms is Koovs looking at?
RK: In terms of convenience, we’re coming up with various channels for customers to buy the deals from us. We do not want to restrict ourselves to dot com alone. We are planning to launch a mobile app, a ‘Call in and purchase’ service and a couple more are in the pipeline. But, they are still in the drawing board though.
PR: Are we going to see a bigger online presence with more marketing spend? The facebook fanbase has more than doubled since the BenefitsPLUS investment.
RK: Yes. Very soon, we plan to spend on marketing. And as I said, so far we’ve had a very organic growth and our customers have responded well. People can definitely see a more prominent presence for Koovs online.
[End of Part II]