The start-up wave has the entire nation covered. More and more youngsters are pitching their innovative ideas and getting started on the start-up route. Unlike how it used to be a decade ago when graduates would simply look for a well-paying job, youngsters these days are willing to risk it to come up with something revolutionary.
Did you know that BankBazaar also began its journey as a start-up? We completed nine years on the first of this month? Read our story here.
We spoke to one such entrepreneur and learned all about her start-up journey. Rashika Jain has a lot of interesting insights and her story is truly inspired by the proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention”.
Additional Reading: 7 Money Mistakes Entrepreneurs Should Avoid
A Gold Medalist Turns Into An Entrepreneur
With her co-founder Karthik Bhandary, Rashika Jain started Weblistr in 2015. Based out of Calcutta, Rashika has a degree in engineering from Bangalore’s PES University and holds a gold medal in MBA from Chennai’s Great Lakes Institute of Management. Post her MBA, she got placed in Airtel and worked in Kolkata for a year in the company’s sales and marketing division.
While she comes from a family of entrepreneurs who run successful businesses, she always knew that also would do something on her own. “There were a lot of opportunities and the start-up culture was on the rise. After a lot of research and understanding, the idea of Weblistr came up. I quit my job to start it. And today Weblistr is what it is.”
She adds, “There was a lot of buzz around start-ups and I would come across a lot of them every day. I would read their stories and understand how they work. At that time, I used to maintain an ‘idea book’ and I would come up with an idea almost every day about what I’m going to do. I had to do a lot of research on various ideas and I had about 100 ideas written down in the book.”
Additional Reading: 5 Money Management Failures Of First Time Entrepreneurs
And What Wasn’t Available Needed To Be Invented
But it didn’t end there. Whenever Rashika would try to dig into the internet to research about these ideas/companies to learn more about implementing these ideas or understand the competition, she never found a platform that would give her all the information in one place. There were a few portals but nothing was curated and in one place. On the other hand, she knew there were a gazillion startups and online businesses out there!
At the same time, she was looking to do something on her own. She was trying to send a birthday present to her friend (now business partner Karthik) who was living outside the country at that time. As an avid online shopper, she came across a number of websites wherein she could get something delivered.
But, there was no way of knowing which one is authentic or trustworthy. Neither did she find user reviews from previous customers. Now, this incident led her to believe that there was a strong need for an aggregator that records reviews and ratings for companies and brands. Since most of these companies were start-ups, there was a need to authenticate their products and services. Things started clicking and she came across many others who were facing the same dilemma.
Thus, Weblistr was born.
What Weblistr Does And What The Future Holds
“People are coming up with sites every day but are they authentic? With so many scams and fraud happening these days, I figured there were two main things missing. One, the knowledge gap and two, authenticity problems (build trust among users). Through our platform, we opened a search portal”, Rashika says.
Weblistr started off as a blog in 2015. Although most startups and online companies have their own blogs, their audience is usually other similar businesses. There was nothing for the end consumer there. Very few of these blogs appeal to customers/users. Weblistr is unique in a way because the content is only for consumers. It contains recommendations for websites, reviews of products and various apps etc.
“We started the blog to test the idea at first. And the blog was getting good responses. That’s when we realised that we could build a portal instead”, she says.
Weblistr is now an e-commerce aggregator and review platform for various online portals wherein you can find curated information and reviews across various categories of websites found in India. The purpose of Weblistr is to bring in authenticity or trust to users and to fill the knowledge gap.
Weblistr helps promote businesses to reach out to their consumer. Also, depending on the positive and negative reviews, Weblistr helps businesses leverage these reviews. Businesses can interact with consumers who provide both good and bad reviews, and they can reach out to more customers too.
Upon asking about the future of Weblistr, Rashika says, “We are working on creating a review engine where we can analyse data. This will generate useful insights for the businesses and help them understand what’s working and what’s not. This is a long-term plan and will turn out to be more useful to online businesses.”
Additional Reading: 7 Fancy Ways To Make Money Online
The review engine will be a subscription-based service and will involve data collection that will help online businesses.
And if you were wondering whether Weblistr gets any commission when partnering with other websites, Rashika makes it very clear about the business model. “We have something called affiliate commission, wherein when we send traffic to a partner’s website, we get a commission. We don’t get any payment or commission because of reviews, and I want to make that very clear because often companies ask us to review them.
We don’t write any reviews and we don’t even change reviews. In fact, we can’t review a ‘review’ unless it has been proven to be fake/inappropriate. We help businesses get visibility and we tell people that these companies exist but at the end of the day, these are all user reviews and we don’t generate these on our own”.
In January 2016, Weblistr was invited to ‘The Startup India Programme Launch’ which was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Additional Reading: Stand Up India – An Entrepreneurial Initiative
Lessons Learnt And Tips From The Horse’s Mouth
If you’re looking to get started with a business, it’s important to learn how other people did it. Here are a few of Rashika’s learnings:
- Don’t splurge: The first thing that Rashika learnt when starting a business was to not overspend. In her case, she had saved up money from her previous job. She says, “It’s easy to go overboard and splurge on a fancy office and branded merchandise, but it’s important to not overspend money on something that isn’t your core business”.
- Do a reality check: “We didn’t want to come up with an idea and ask investors for their money. We wouldn’t have got it either”, she explains. With the collective savings they had, Rashika and her partner first built the platform. And very soon they started making money, although, not a lot in the start but it was something. Eventually, they started recovering money from the blog itself and then through other marketing channels. And some of that money earned was put back into the business. So, it wasn’t just a fancy idea. There were returns.
- Hire the right people: And this isn’t just some textbook knowledge. When it came to hiring, Rashika made some smart choices. Instead of running after prestigious B-School grads who would draw high salaries, Weblistr initially hired only freelancers, bloggers and interns who were fresh graduates and who were happy with a certificate.
- Set a target amount: Both Rashika and her partner came from steady-income jobs, and suddenly the start-up culture did seem a little intimidating. And at one point, she even wondered if she was making a mistake. But that’s how the startup ecosystem works. Hence they decided to set a target – an amount that she and her partner would be investing on their own. So, even if things were to go south, they knew how much they would lose.
BB Tip – Make a budget and also ascertain losses. Setting a cap on the amount that you’re willing to invest will prepare you both financially and mentally if things don’t go your way.
- Read a lot: Someone rightly said, “Knowledge is power”, and Rashika believes in it. Because the startup industry is so dynamic and there are so many new things that come up each day, it’s important to stay ahead of the crowd. Reading and researching help a lot.
BB Tip – To improve your financial knowledge, it’s vital that you stay updated with what’s happening around you. A great way to start is by subscribing to detail-oriented blogs that are filled with information on banking, investing and personal finance. And we know just the kind of blog that will serve the purpose. (Clue: Click here)
Advice to women entrepreneurs – “Stop Making Excuses”
As a woman who has come so far with her company, we couldn’t stop ourselves from asking Rashika if there was anything, in particular, she wanted to share with our women readers. And she quickly said, “There is no special advice for a man or a woman. There’s a lot of competition out there and if you want to make it, you have to stop giving yourself the excuses you give. You could always complain about having something or not having it. In the end, it all boils down to how you work your way against all odds.
Excuses are for losers. If you really want to do something, get up and do it. If you think your marriage or responsibilities at home stop you from taking a job outside, you can look at options that let you work from home, or part time. There’s nothing you cannot achieve.”
Additional Reading: Start up India – What It Means For Women Entrepreneurs
We couldn’t agree more. Irrespective of whether you’re a man or a woman, your options are plenty. And if you’re looking to switch jobs, do check out openings at BankBazaar.