Rashika Jain's Weblistr Is Like 'Yelp' For Online Businesses In India
Born and brought up in Kolkata, Rashika Jain grew up in a joint family, where she was always surrounded by people. To have the experience of living independently, she went to Bangalore to pursue engineering from PES Institute of Technology, followed by MBA in Marketing from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai in 2014. Excellent in her academics, Rashika won 3 Gold Medals upon her graduation. Post MBA, she started working with Bharti Airtel in Sales and Marketing
Inspired by her father, her husband and even her younger sister (19) who are all entrepreneurs, in 2015, Rashika decided to quit her job to pursue her entrepreneurship dream. She got together with her friend Karthik Bhandary (a Great Lakes alumnus himself) to start Weblistr - a web directory that lists, rates and reviews ecommerce websites and apps in India".
In this exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, we got Rashika to talk about how she thought of the idea behind Weblistr, the idea, the motivation, how it all works and where they are headed. Read on!
Rashika Jain, Co-Founder, Weblistr
CE: How did Weblistr happen? Why do you choose to work on a startup targeted at Online Shopping Guidance?
Rashika Jain: I am an avid online shopper and my friends always come to me for advice on where to shop. About a year ago, a friend of mine wanted to buy luxury goods and couldn’t find a trustworthy online store. I helped her with it, like I do to everyone for online shopping. Incidentally that same week, I wanted to send a gift to my friend in Kuwait and after searching extensively, I found a website that delivered to Kuwait. It struck me that there is a lot of information gap in the e-commerce industry and there is so much that the Flipkarts and Amazons don’t offer.
There is a whole world of websites and apps offering products and services online, making our lives convenient. But most people either aren’t aware or don’t trust these portals.
I decided to find a solution and thus was born Weblistr, an online shopping guide.
CE: What was the motivation/driving force behind running a startup? Tell us the story of your startup?
Rashika Jain: The startup buzz around the country was very fascinating and I was drawn to the interesting things people were doing. I took about 6 months to research on various ideas, spoke to at least 100 different people in the startup ecosystem, attended a few events. Finally, in Sept 2015, a series of experiences which I mentioned above gave birth to the idea of Weblistr.
Most industries are trying to adopt the online route to reach out to customers. Reviews and rating are becoming increasingly important among information hungry consumers. So we created Weblistr.com- a listing, rating and review portal – more like a Yelp for online businesses.
CE: How does Weblistr system work? Tell us more about the services it offers.
Rashika Jain: Weblistr.com is India’s first and only e-commerce aggregator that aims to bridge the gap between online shoppers and online service providers.
The portal lists useful information of websites and apps that across 20+ categories such as fashion, travel, cab services, jobs, food delivery, gifting, etc. Users can browse through/search based on their needs and find most appropriate online solution to their problem. They can share their shopping experiences by reviewing online businesses.
For instance, if you’re looking to go for trek, Weblistr will point to a startup that specializes in adventure tour planning. If you want fresh vegetables, Weblistr will tell you which website will deliver in your city.
Online businesses on the other hand can list themselves on the portal and gain visibility. They can manage their reputation by collecting consumer feedback and interacting with their reviewers.
CE: How do you go about reaching your customer-base?
Rashika Jain: We have a great marketing team in place and we keep experimenting. Most of our activities are digital.
We use social media very aggressively, especially Facebook (23k fans) and Twitter (1.3k followers). Our team is involved in SEO, email marketing, campus ambassador programs, our own startup blog, contests, videos etc.
As for business, we are a Nasscom 10k startup so that helps in networking. We attend a lot of startup events. My partner, Karthik works out of Bangalore which makes it easier to connect with more people. We also reach out to business owners aggressively through Linkedin.
CE: What is the revenue model for Weblistr?
Rashika Jain: Weblistr earns from online businesses through 2 different ways:
- Promotion of startups though advertisements, startup stories, videos, contests.
- Premium listings- wherein websites can be listed on top of their categories as a sponsored listing.
CE: How big is the Weblistr team at the moment? What are the various departments that your employees are currently working on?
Rashika Jain: We are a 10 members team with both part time and full time members. While Karthik and I, Co-Founders, work mostly on the product and overall strategising, hiring and finance management, our other team members primarily work on content, social media, seo, blog management, graphics, sales etc.
CE: What are the team's efforts currently focused on? Where do you see the company two years from now?
We are focusing on mostly on 2 things currently:
- Reaching out to as many online shoppers as possible and educating them about our platform.
- Improving the user experience on our platform to make it extremely simple for them to find the best online business for their need.
CE: What is your advice to young women who want to become product creators, builders and entrepreneurs?
Rashika Jain: There are very few women founders in the startup ecosystem. In Nasscom Kolkata Warehouse itself, out of the 150 odd startups that have been inducted only 4 have been headed by women, including us. I see this as a huge opportunity. There are so many programs available today and it should be made full use of.
As far as being a creator or builder is concerned, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. The best products/services will win. The competition is intense for everyone.
CE: How important was your family's support in your entrepreneurial journey?
Rashika Jain: It was and is extremely important.
I started Weblistr after I got married, and members of both the families have been extremely supportive. The startup world has completely different dynamics. The revenues don’t come in initially and cash burn rate is high. There is opportunity cost to everything.
I constantly talk about my work with my family to keep them involved and updated. Initially they didn’t quiet understand the business model but now they get it.
CE: After all these years, how do you go about maintaining a balance between professional & personal commitments?
Rashika Jain: Well, this is the real challenge, especially when you’re married but it is important to draw the right lines, make necessary compromises; some with your career, some with your social life. Ultimately, it is the art of perfect balancing that will take you places and keep you happy.
CE: Any message for young engineers?
Rashika Jain: If you’ve dream of being a creator/innovator - there couldn’t have been a more perfect time in life in terms of opportunities. However, I do have one advice. Always remember tech is only one part of the startup. To be able to sell your product/service, make money out of it and add real value- that’s the key!
Also if you have an online business, don’t forget to list it on www.weblistr.com
We understood the client’s need of going mobile friendly and making solutions that will help save time and money. That is how our direction of being known as one of India’s best enterprise mobility solution provider became an aim.Abhijit JunagadeWinjit Technologies