Exclusive Conversation: Deependra Singh & Rini Kothari,Founder-ITChintu.com
Deependra Singh Bundela ,a fashion enthusiast, a lover of life, an aspiring Renaissance man is the Co- founder of ITChintu.com - a one stop portal for working professionals. He is a person who trusts his own rationale and instincts more than living life according to people’s accepted norms or standards. He Co- founded ITchintu.com with Rini Kothari. She is a very enthusiastic person with lot of passion. She is tech savvy and always brings up new insights in challenging situations. Let’s hear their story :
1) What was the idea behind starting the venture?
ITChintu.com is a recreational and utility portal for IT professionals; it was created to serve as a ‘One-stop solution for all problems of working professionals’. All professionals have to face certain challenges when they change jobs or relocate to a new city. For an IT professional, this problem is more pertinent because the frequency of job changes and relocation is more. The challenges this entails include finding new accommodation, buying or selling household goods or vehicles, finding roommates, finding a car pool or even a life partner. ITChintu.com provides the utilities to find these services and also offers a unique social networking platform that helps to find new friends.
2) Please brief us about your business model and revenue model?
We are looking at establishing ourselves as a brand that people will remember for significantly improving their life. Revenue will definitely be the by product of what we are doing but our prime focus is on providing solutions to the problems faced by people in their day to day life. And since we are into diverse categories, advertisements and e-commerce will be our major sources of revenue.
3) What is your current focus and plans for target market?
As we are a growing start-up, growth and brand awareness among targeted market are our major focus. We are marketing our brand in quite an unconventional way through spoofs. We have recently launched a social media campaign with the objective of reaching out to working professionals and building a brand in a creative way.
The campaign is engaging IT Professionals on various social media fronts. Majorly spoofs are crafted out on the themes on the topics which are very common among the working professionals like appraisals, issues over leaves, bonus, hikes, riposte between employee and boss, even on daily tasks like status report, like- filling timesheets and even on Lunch and coffee breaks.
As far as growth is concerned, we are continuously evaluating user response and incorporating their feedback in our day-to-day decisions. As an online marketplace, the usefulness of the site is of utmost importance and hence, we are regularly adding innovative and user friendly features to our website so as to ensure the best user experience.
Yes, after seeing the great response we are looking for investors to strategically expand our self.
5) How big is India, as a market, for your business? What is the number of users currently?
There are approximately 2.75 million IT professionals in India and the number is rapidly increasing. Furthermore, we have not restricted the usage of the website to IT professionals. ITchintu.com can be used by any working professional for searching accommodation, or selling off used vehicles or electronics or even using our free matrimonial service. So yes, I think we have a very big market for our services in India and we see a huge growth potential for our user base.
Currently, ITchintu.com is accessed by nearly 17000 registered customers. We have seen a consistent growth in the number of registered users and we are continuously improvising ways to reach more customers. Our Facebook page is also quite popular with over 5000 likes and a few thousand highly engaged users.
5) What are the challenges and your strategy to overcome them?
As with any other start-up, every day brings upon new challenges and hurdles – things that you have never came across and don’t know how to tackle. But with new challenges comes new learnings which boost your confidence and prepare you for the coming ones. I think one’s ability to take up challenges positively is very important.
Initially, marketing our start-up and increasing the number of users was a challenge – how to reach out to the maximum number of people with minimum expenditure? But, trust me; the answer is not that simple. There has to be something which grabs people’s attention, which they find new and innovative and more important which should be self propagating. In our case, we relied on guerilla marketing tactics and came up with spoofs on IT professionals.
We were very clear from the starting that we need an idea that people should like, enjoy and share with our friends. And realized that what else can be the best way to market among working professional than making humors spoofs and give a chance to people to laugh on it, share it and enjoy it with their friends. And the idea turned out really well for us.
Apart from this, I think our funny and unique name ‘ITchintu’ helped in getting the attention of IT professionals. The name is derived from the frequent jokes that go around in the office. ‘Chintu’ is the ‘Aam Aadmi’ of IT. He is an innocent, hard-working guy, new to the industry, who wants to be successful but doesn’t know how. He works for 12-14 hours a day and even works on weekends, but in return he gets only a few words of appreciation like ‘Keep up the good job’ or ‘Good job Chintu’. ITchintu.com is a one-of-its-kind portal where working professionals for different companies can come together to help each other by posting ads for accommodation, job openings, matrimonial etc. So far, the idea of having such a portal with a specific target audience and a diverse set of services to offer has worked out well for us.
6) What has been your learning so far as a company?
I think bootstrapping in the initial days of the start-up is quite important. It not only makes you a smarter money manager, but also a creative and innovative marketer. It’s simple, what will you do if you have limited resources? Try different workarounds? Provide better products? Better services? It actually makes you think more, analyse more and force you to come up with an innovative solution. It is a precious time of great learning. It gives you more freedom to do things in unconventional way and improves your decision making.
As a company, we have realised that the ‘planning’ phase is as important as the execution of the plan, if not more. They say ‘Well begun is half done’, and I couldn’t agree more! I think that for any start-up to be successful, it’s important to have a clear vision and a well-planned roadmap to achieve it.
7) What are your priorities for 2014?
In line with our motto, to solve the problems faced by working professionals providing better quality services will be our top priority in near future. We want ITchintu.com to be recognized as a ‘One-stop solution for all needs of working professionals’ and we will focus on increasing and improving its brand awareness.
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