[quote style=”boxed”]I would launch sooner. I would launch faster. I will think more of the future, but delivery faster in present. I can’t stress how important it is to be fast. Try different things and iterate.[/quote]
Annkur P Agarwal has been an Internet entrepreneur for over a decade. Starting early at the age of 15 as an Online Retailer, Annkur P Agarwal has first hand seen the growth of ecommerce In India. Annkur has been active in the Startup community In India with over 200 Startup Saturdays in over 12 cities. He has also been an active organizer of Barcamps, Blogcamps and Startup Weekends In Mumbai / India.
What are you working on right now?
PriceBaba.com, a product research engine. PriceBaba brings local retailers In India on the web and lets over 150 million internet users research for products on the web before stepping out of the house to make a purchase.
Where did the idea for PriceBaba come from?
It began from a personal problem, a lot of people asked me to help them choose what to buy and where to buy. I figured that people want recommendations on their shopping decisions. And what better than a great web destination to deliver the same. As most people In India still research online and buy offline, we choose to build the online-offline hybrid with PriceBaba.
How do you make money?
We add value to small and mid-sized retailers by giving them presence on the Internet. As we help them increase sales with the help of the Internet, we charge them for the same. Think of it like what Yelp does in the United States.
What does your typical day look like?
My day begins with checking emails at home, arriving to office anytime before noon. The first task for the day is looking at the operations team who interface with retailers. Throughout the day I look at our marketing, content and any company affairs that require my attention, meetings are generally scheduled for late afternoon or late evenings. After the operations load is relaxed, I look at the product development and often get into discussions with our Content head on how we can make PriceBaba better for consumers. The idea is to keep our focus on the next big thing, but execution strength on the task at hand.
How do you bring ideas to life?
There are several triggers for a good idea to come up. More often than not, they come from a consumer interaction. When I listen to a problem or observe a certain manner in which the consumer behaves, there is a natural tendency to think towards improving things. Bringing the idea to life is a matter of prioritizing how important it is. If a new idea troubles me for more than a few hours, I get to work on it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Mobile! Mobile internet and app usage is growing fast In India. I am incredibly excited to see how the next 100 million people coming online In India would depend on mobile technology. Close to half of our users are already coming from mobile.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
It was being a doorman at an event (voluntary). My only job was the open the door for people passing by. I wasn’t allowed to talk or use my mobile phone during this. I did so for several hours with a smile. It only made me more grateful and humble towards anyone operating a door for me. It taught me there is so much Joy in Service.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would launch sooner. I would launch faster. I will think more of the future, but delivery faster in present. I can’t stress how important it is to be fast. Try different things and iterate.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur I keep reiterating why we are doing what we are doing. And it is so important to keep reminding yourself why you exist. As the scope of what you are dealing with grows, you would be more confused than ever about what is the right choice to make. To accept the deal on the table or walk away from it. To launch a certain feature or to enter into a certain partnership.
For us, what defines us is our origin. One cannot possibly solve every problem that exists in the world. We ask ourselves often, what was the trigger to start this company and that usually gets us out of the dilemma.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failure is good people leaving me because I was too harsh at criticizing them. Startup is a passionate place and it has taken time for me to take extreme emotions out of my communication. I now convey my opinions in a much more humble tone to my team.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A crowd sourcing platform for raising angel money, but this one would plug into your social circles and allow your friends to invest in your newly launched business. It is hard to find angel money and the best source is friends, family and fools. About time someone makes a platform for this 🙂
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
The disparity between the rich and the poor. A handful of people control the world and define what more than 99% others would live like. If we could take away the concept of money and power as we know, perhaps there is a better planet to build and live. Unfortunately the best way of going about it is to influence the richest people on the planet to give back to construct a more powerful Earth.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
My mom is an entrepreneur. My entrepreneurial drive sparked from her when I was in school and she ran a business to support the house.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I love Google Analytics. For a web business, it is a must to keep a tab on the traffic pulse and extract insights from it.
Webengage.com – Running in-site surveys or targeting specific users to improve conversions, we love Webengage.
ViralMint.com – giving rewards to users for social actions, this increases engagement by several notches
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. A fiction, yet the wisdom of Gutama Buddha and Siddhartha brought together beautifully. For specific on entrepreneurship, I highly recommend ‘The High Performance Entrepreneur’ by Subroto Bagchi.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
It was caused by a candidate accidentally mentioning a porn site instead of PriceBaba during his interview. I fell off my chair!
Who is your hero, and why?
My hero is Bill Gates. A billionaire entrepreneur who changed how we do computing, created one of worlds largest enterprises and now in his second innings he is fighting some of the greatest challenges that lie in front of the human race. I admire him for his work In India and across the globe with his foundation.
What would be your one advice to young entrepreneurs?
While we put in more than a 100% to make a successful business, stress is the biggest enemy for an entrepreneur. If there is something I could tell any entrepreneur before he/she starts up, it would be to know that at the end of the day, it is just a game. You win some, you lose often and that’s how it is meant to be.
What kind of culture do you build for your startup?
We have several beliefs at PriceBaba on the culture front. We like to hire people who are a good cultural fit with our environment. A good question to ask ourselves is, does this candidate laugh at our jokes? Is he open about his strengths and weaknesses alike? We believe in hiring for attitude and training for skills, hence hardworking and fast learning folks are better than the super talented ones!
Apart from this we believe in inclusive growth. Appraisal cycles happen several times a year and we share the risks and rewards of a fast growing startup.