Q1: Take us through your educational and professional background. How did the journey lead you into the realm of becoming a startup leader in the Retail industry?
A1: I was born and brought up in a Marwari business family in Indore. Our family had a successful construction business with a workforce of more than 300 people & 05 muneems. The source and force of my passion is the legacy passed on to me by my Lt. Grandfather who co-founded the Marwari community in Central India. I did my senior secondary from an ISC affiliated school and after that, I started pursuing my bachelor’s in business management with an immense amount of interest in everything related to national & international business. I was completely involved in the ‘bookish’ business and around the second semester I started preparing for I.E.L.T.S. and decided to take a drop so that I can reboot my bachelor’s in order to become a corporate bug in the UK. But the universe had another plan for me and made me withdraw my admission application along with the scholarship that I was getting, so after high school, I was a college dropout with no plans for the future and zero work experience. For months I was in despair and hopeless as I used to plan everything beforehand but now I had no plans or path, the future seemed so uncertain to me as I lost all hope in myself. But I realized that I can’t stay like this forever, so to get myself out of this phase I started searching for new opportunities and luckily got an internship in a mobile app development company, I started working as an intern and made my way up till the Asst Manager Business Development. The interview I gave there was the first and last interview I ever gave. After entering into this industry, I was flabbergasted in this world of tech and innovation. From losing myself in hopelessness and despair to losing myself in the world of startups, International clients, ideas, and software solutions, it was a whole new experience and after engaging myself with more than 500 startups of various industries and from different parts of the world, I got to understand where and why Indian market is lacking in technology and digital development.
Q2: With a demonstrated experience in mobile & web-based product branding, designing, development, marketing, and sales, how is your professional experience helping you in molding business strategy for the company?
A2: I started working when I was 19 years old and by the time I was 21, I represented my company in the third-largest tech-week called Gitex in Dubai. During my corporate tenure, I tried learning everything where I can get my hands on, starting from Google-search, data entry, lead generation, email drafting, software development consultation, sales, marketing, presentation documentation, project management, wireframing, UI/UX designing, branding, content writing, mobile & web app testing. There isn’t really a work culture in startups. If you want to get a job done, you should be the first person to know how it should be done. The service industry teaches you to put your end-users first and to be very flexible in the market and always be prepared to pivot accordingly. To begin with, I always take the pilot route that too in phases with a clear objective to check the market’s response and also to build a community of beta users that we refer to as our campaign/activity ambassadors. In addition, we do A/B testing of the different phases of the pilot route to have market-generated data. Furthermore, with respect to our platform, we didn’t go to the market with a full-fledged product, we developed an MVP and released it in our home turf among the same beta users to test it for real-time and paid attention to the offline and online analytics, this helped our product department to plan the full-fledged version of our platform. This is a baton passing game, where everyone plays an equal role and everyone needs to be on the same page with respect to the company’s vision and objective.
Q3: What are the challenges that you encountered during your leadership journey and how did you overcome them?
A3: When I started, I was in the habit of doing everything by myself because I’m keen on achieving perfection in everything that I do and eventually it started slowing down our pilot launch process. The slowing down made me exhausted and somewhat afraid too. So, I turned towards books, articles, documentaries, biographies, and my mentor. I came back with a simple solution of putting everything on standby and started working on building my core team followed by adding one experienced resource in every department to bring the best out of my core team. My core team was building a wall by themselves and as a contingency plan, I started building a boat. Instead of doing A/B testing in the market, I started doing it on my team members by giving them day-to-day tasks and setting up micro milestones on a weekly basis. The slow process wasn’t moving at all and in just a couple of weeks, our operations and pilot launch were right back on track with the same perfection that I alone used to chase. By the end of our first quarter, I learned that a startup should start by building people instead of perfecting the product or service, your “people” will help you perfect the product.
Q4: As the CEO of Byloapp, what different roles & responsibilities have you been undertaking in the company while setting up goals and reaching the next level of success and accomplishments?
A4: I don’t take the designation of “CEO” as an entitlement. From the very beginning, I have been indulged in the most basic works of the company to the most advanced responsibilities. In other words, I create trouble, I make trouble, I solve the trouble and I eliminate the trouble. I try to lead by example, this has been my approach and that helps me in setting up objectives & goals that are realistic and falling in line with the vision of our company. I believe that building people is my biggest role and responsibility here, and I try to do that to the best of my capacities by sharing everything I know and have learned throughout my dynamic journey. Being a CEO, you not only need to be a good actor but also a director, producer, publisher, critic, spot boy, and an audience. I always keep my team involved while I’m building any long-term objective and this involvement increases the
efficiency and success of the company.
Q5: How do you strategize to make your company effectively compete in this scenario? The retailers of SMBs are facing a very tough challenge from the eCommerce segment currently, what do you say?
A5: I believe in building alliances instead of directly getting in a competition. The Indian market is a huge reservoir of opportunities, so the competition should not be within the startups, every digital startup’s mission should be to make India a “Digitally Advanced Community”. Instead of accepting the digital dictatorship of other country’s Big-tech companies, why not create a round table through a local startup alliance. We don’t have any direct competition with any other Indian company, as we are building India’s first hyper-local marketplace search engine and a social-media-inspired commerce platform for the Millennials and Gen Z community of customers and merchants. The strategy is to educate this community that American social media platforms are not meant for our Indian marketplace. These social media have a lot of unwanted content and they comply with their policy in the favor of their nation. For a business to flourish, we don’t need a platform that is friendship friendly and displays manipulative content. The retailers need to understand that they are in no need to join e-commerce platforms and pay huge setup fees or commissions just to connect with their immediate customers or to sell their products or services. All they need is a good digital presence in their own city, hyper-local Ads, come up with live offers & discounts and have a direct communication window to engage their customers. Our startup is providing everything in one single platform and that too without any commission. There are only two types of businesses that exist in the market i.e less online and completely online. We are here to cover the 100% market as there are no offline businesses. We are an organization that is making an attempt to encourage “SOSO” SEARCH ONLINE AND SHOP OFFLINE, there’s no monetary transaction involved at our website. You see what you like and you buy it offline. we’re mere service and information providers.
Q6: What are you most proud of at Byloapp? Tell us how you have transformed your business and what opportunities do you see in the market that will bring huge success to Byloapp.
A6: I feel proud of my team and the way they share my vision of Byloapp. In 02 years, we have faced 02 lockdowns and in the same years, we have pivoted our business model twice with positive outcomes. And, one pivoting happened remotely through online brainstorming sessions. This couldn’t have been possible without my team and if they haven’t shared my vision. We did our pilot launch by offering commission-free digital marketing assets to SMBs. Prior our App focused on providing deals and discounts to customers that were posted by merchants. In only 04 months, we provided digital assets to more than 500 SMBs of various categories like clothing, catering, events, restaurants, bars, hotels, salons, boutiques, and many more. The pilot data said merchants are paying huge commissions to third party startups just to create their digital presence, they are not in control of their own accounts, they don’t have any direct window to speak with their customers, using multiple tools & platforms for digital marketing, and on a yearly basis they end up spending more commission than they generate revenue through their marketing efforts. And, the customer’s community is absolutely unaware about their own city’s market, they have no option to seamlessly connect with their city’s merchants and they have become a victim of manipulative Ads resulting in redirected e-commerce shopping than phygital. I realized we need to offer more than an app, we need to build a “refresh” button for our Indian marketplace. So, we continued our services to make sure that we survive the pandemic, and meanwhile, our development and marketing team started building a suite of much-needed solutions required by the Indian marketplace. We have established our presence as India’s own Google-like search engine of the Indian marketplace. For the next 02 years, we will focus on connecting the Indian marketplace community of merchants and customers. In the same duration, we will focus on easy-to-educate users i.e Millennials & Gen Z. To give you a hint on the potential of Byloapp, there are around 1.5 million Indian SMBs with a business page on the social marketplace, and in India, we have more than 65 million Indian SMBs. Around 330 million Indians use social media platforms and nearly 39% of them rely on these foreign platforms to explore the marketplace and to find deals & offers. In the next 05 years, we will connect 100% of this community and we will exist in every Millennial & Gen Z’s mobile phone or laptop, and our platform will be accessed by millions of Indians on a daily basis. In the back-end, we will have more accurate latitude & longitude of the hyper-local areas than any other American company, we will have much better data powered buying & selling content empowering local-businesses & local-customers, we will record millions of customer’s interest to connect them with the relevant businesses of their own city. A data-driven Indian marketplace building a circular economy. To stand out from the crowd, Byloapp will host a talk show, City-specific Business Awards, hyper-local market exhibitions, delivery services for everything local, local-startup funding programs, and many more.
Q7: Which are the milestones that bestowed you with utmost satisfaction – both as an individual and as a CEO
A7: I feel most satisfied when I get a chance to build & empower people around me. Be it my team members, family, friends, users, colleagues, or anyone. On an individual level, I want to transfer and share my knowledge to interns like myself in the past that will somehow help them to genuinely understand the potential lying inside them. As a CEO, I want to do the same with a different message. I want our country’s youth to stop believing and following real-life professionals i.e Bollywood actors, they need to start watching startups instead of cinema/movies and most importantly they need to start following Founders & CEOs rather than TV/cinema professionals. I believe there is still some time to change your role models.
Q8: What major hurdles did you encounter during the pandemic and how did you manage to steer your firm out of them?
A8: Before the pandemic hit us, we were at the peak with our pilot program activities. We were operating physically and educating merchants on the ground level about the importance of going digital and having their own commission-free digital marketing assets. We had our next plan ready to be launched after the completion of our pilot program and we were on the verge of releasing our mobile applications. And, suddenly everything came to a halt. All the work stopped and the market didn’t have a clue where it was going and what was happening. In respect to our marketing, 70% of our activities were offline and 30% were online. Our complete merchant onboarding was happening on the ground level. We were engaging customers through offline giveaways and meet-ups and the app was getting developed according to pre-pandemic scenarios. We switched our complete marketing from offline to online. For merchant on-boarding, we set up a tele-calling department. We started organizing giveaways through social media contests, games & quizzes. We had to re-look at most of the features of the platform and had to switch from a mobile-based platform to a web-based platform. Our complete focus shifted towards audience engagement and we also opened ourselves for other cities and states. The WFH wave hit everyone hard, we had to redesign our operations, work structure, certain policies, reporting and many things. I won’t lie it took us more than a month to pull together everything and bring everyone on the same page
but we did it.
Q9: How do your personal goals fit into the company goals over the coming years and what is your definition of success in business?
A9: The way I feel passionate about organizing and upbringing people around me, Byloapp is doing the same with the hyper-local community of merchants and customers. Through my resources and platform, my goal is to make Indian startups, Founders & CEOs a household name that will empower the future generation of entrepreneurs, and again Byloapp is doing the same thing but with the future of merchants i.e millennials and Gen Z. At this stage, I have come up with three parameters to define success in business. The first parameter starts with your own happiness as the Founder & CEO, how happy you are when you are working and when you aren’t. The second parameter is how positive your workplace is, every single team member should love what they are doing. The third parameter is seeing your solution evolving itself by bringing actual change to your end-users daily life.
Kindly answer a few personal questions:
Hobby: Playing clap box, virtual piano, billiards, racing games, and watching
Favorite Cuisine: Anything home-cooked.
Favorite Book: I’m more of a documentary person but I recently I read Corporate Chanakya & The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck.
Travel Destination: Space.
Awards & Recognition: Love & Blessings😄