Interview with Manoranjan Ingudam, Co-Founder at VBooky

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[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

 

VBooky is an online marketplace and platform where customers get connected to the beauty and personal care service providers for any given location. The company which is managed by Fyno Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. provides a one stop solution to the users for finding and booking a salon, spa or a wellness service provider in their locality. The users can check reviews and compare the various listed service providers before finally making a booking. They can also check available deals and even gift beauty and wellness packages to their friends and family.

The company which began operations from Banaglore in the year 2013 is already active in 6 more cities and is looking to expand further in the time to come. The company has around 4000 beauty salons and spas registered with them who see the company as their technology & marketing partner.

In a chat with the co-founder of the company Mr. Manoranjan Ingudam he tells us about how his experience has been with VBooky.

What motivated you to start the company and what is it all about?

Starting a new initiative is tough, especially the initial decision making, leaving the comfort of salary and venturing into the unknown. There are so many questions, so many what ifs.

For more than a decade working in big corporate like Infosys & Huawei, building exciting products and solving  business problems through software, sipping endless cups of coffee – the entrepreneurship twitched many a times during this stint.  It’s heartening to see some of those ideas had been implemented by other fellow entrepreneurs and found success. It did give me some validations 🙂 – well, that’s my takeaway.

The first serious call for entrepreneurship came somewhere in 2009 where I felt this pang in my heart that I needed to go for it. What a pity – I neither had a team nor the confidence of building the technology or business! So when it came back in 2013, I had already built a team where we regularly work on some pet projects – whether it was keyword extraction and behaviour building algorithm or HR email system to filter the documents based on keywords. Our core team of Subhadeep G – excellent developer & Basent V – excellent server developer worked together during such projects. We have a great working relationship as we worked close to 5 years together. So when we scouted for possible opportunity, we looked at various domains and found beauty & wellness services opportunity to be ripe for disruption in India. There was not a single player looking at the industry like we looked at it. I was excited about the opportunity and wanted to take the plunge.

VBOOKY started as a project way back in December, 2013 with the concept of booking engine – “We[V] Book You”. We saw a lot of verticals requiring an easy and integrated booking engine to power their businesses.

We thought Beauty & Wellness industry was ripe for disruption and took the plunge in 2014. VBOOKY.COM is a marketplace for beauty & wellness services. The users can easily locate a service provider near their location and discover the various services being offered. They can also provide feedback in the form of reviews & ratings so that other users get benefited.

Our readers would like to know about your core team and their roles?

We are a small team of 7 members – each motivated & organized towards a singular goal of taking this initiative to the global stage. We continue to focus a lot of our energy in technology to help us scale easily.

How did you hire your initial team?

When we started in 2014, it was just the founding team members with another one large hearted friend, Ved, who became our first investor. He gave a spare room in his rented apartment for us to work. We started working out of the apartment to build the initial product for the first 6 months. At the start, we were just three of us (myself, Subhadeep & Basent) along with with the support of our friends.

We had our first hire in August 2014. We used various jobs boards and references to hire and get us going.

Which recruiting channels work best for you?Referrals/Job Boards/ Staffing Agencies?

We used various job boards and references to hire and get us going. Hiring for us is a continuous process where we engage with a potential candidate over a period of time for key positions.

What are the key factors that you look for in a potential candidate?

We look for people who are self driven towards a given goal which is a difficult trait to spot in a few hour’s discussion. We are also looking for people who can take off within the first month of hiring.

According to you how much is the competition in your vertical? How big is the industry? Who all are your competitors and what are your views on them?

We are pretty excited about this market. KPMG reported a rosy picture of more than Rs 80,000 CR projected size business in beauty for India – both services & products, by 2017/18, growing yearly at about 20-23%.

When we hit the ground in 2014, there were a few guys working on this vertical. Now there are many who are focused on this vertical – both big and small. Some are well funded competitors. Some have approached it as a category to their offerings while many are focused solely on this vertical.

I would look at the competitors in a very positive way – firstly, it validates this market and secondly, it is slowly and surely helping people to change their behaviour from walking-in to a more convenient way of pre booking their services. All this is going to help the industry mature and lead to an even bigger marketplace. We can draw parallel of how travel ticketing matured from nearby travel agents to online booking.

What are your marketing strategies? Do you take help of Social platforms to promote? Which channels have been very effective? Which marketing channels have been super flops?

We are still in an experimental stage towards reaching out to more & more people. We have used google adwords, facebook, offline & emailers as part of our marketing strategy. We’ve had mixed results for various campaigns we have done.

Our investment in SEO has been fruitful and we have started to see better results..

What has been your experience with paid marketing channels?

There have been mixed results – some disappointing and some yielding good results.

Can you elaborate on the Challenges in promoting your website/App?

The key challenge is to identify and reach the right target audience and to find the right medium to reach them.

What is the current traction? Can you share some numbers on Usage and Revenue?

We have started revenue realization from August last month & we are happy with the response. We are increasing our workforce to help us run faster in the next couple of months.

Based on your experience would you have any advice to new the Entrepreneurs/ Start-ups?

Have patience & perseverance. Be consistent in your effort. And have a good mentor/advisor you can trust upon and have a discussion on your journey so far once in a while to get a different perspective.

 

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

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