By Rohan Naravane, PriceBaba head of product and content
Elevator Pitch: PriceBaba is a price comparison site ‘Shopping Intelligence Engine’ that redefines the way you shop for mobile phones. From finding the right phone for you, to giving you the best price at a local store in your vicinity, PriceBaba is your companion for shopping in India.
PriceBaba began as an idea in the head of an irritated Annkur Agarwal, who despite moving on from the retail business, for years would still get queries on which phone to buy and where one could get the best price. His idea translated into reality when he bumped into his co-founder, Tirthesh Ganatra (TG), in a train journey from Bangalore to Mumbai (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq6h6hFFN9k). A gifted developer, TG translated Annkur’s thoughts into a barebones product in mid-2012. And as they say, “the rest is history”…
PriceBaba verifies and lists mobile phone retailers across India, and lets consumers find a good store for them to shop. PriceBaba doesn’t claim to offer the absolutely lowest price for a product—that’s because we have stringent requirements for retailers who register with us. Thus, our ‘Best Bargain Price’ serves as a guideline for what the current Market Operating Price (MOP) of a product is. This inevitably can—and does from time to time—end up being the lowest price for a product.
PriceBaba is a research engine. Using a variety of filters, you can narrow down from the hundreds of models to find one that best suits your requirements. Then, you can view the phone’s specifications, read through its features in a crisply-narrated overview, and look at the price history graph to see the ups-and-downs (mostly downs) in price since its launch day.
Marketing & Promotion
Fortunately for us, being selected for 500 Startups gave us big mileage in terms of media coverage. PriceBaba was talked about on tech sites like TechCrunch and The Next Web (TNW) that are popular the world over.
We believe in word-of-mouth and have grown over 750 percent in 2013 alone, all organically. It is the classic ‘build a good product, talk about it a bit and people will take it forward’ approach; and so far it has worked for us quite well.
There are 150 million Internet users in India. Out of these, about 15 million people shop online. This tells us that the remaining 135 million or so possibly prefer shopping by going to a store. So, if a person wants to find out information about a product available at a store, calling up phone directories like Justdial or AskMe will fetch only generic information like the store address and telephone number, while PriceBaba goes many steps further than this.
India is also a $10 billion mobile phone market. Since most phones are purchased at full price (i.e. without any subsidies via carrier contracts), there’s a huge opportunity within these transactions.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
Our biggest differentiator that separates us from the hordes of product comparison websites is our offline retailer network. We believe that India is still coming of age when it comes to online shopping—be it due to the inaccessibility or fear of using credit cards/debit cards/net banking, or simply the desire to visit an actual store, talk to the sales person, and walk away with your product that very instant. Next, India is a pro-bargainers market and you can’t bargain online. We believe that small retailers are the best place to squeeze out the best deal.
Next, our users love PriceBaba’s design—it’s simple, clear, with an easily navigable user interface. We’ve recently baked-in tools like Price Alerts via SMS/email, or the Price Graph that we’ve had since some time now to help the user in making the most informed decision. We give them a holistic experience, from choosing a phone to finding the right place to buy one.
We are currently exploring a couple of revenue-generating opportunities with PriceBaba. But as was depicted by Jesse Eisenberg portraying Mark Zuckerburg in the movie The Social Network, we’re not looking at monetizing our product until we feel the product has reached its potential. And we’re just getting started. We are blessed for the positive support we’ve gotten from 500 Startups and our great investors back in India, who believe in our decision to keep sharpening the axe before we finally swing.
At the moment, we’re possibly looking at expanding our dev team with a talented individual with a high UX skill set. On the content side, we would have a position in the pipeline for an editor by the end of the year.
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Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Founders: Tirthesh Ganatra, Annkur P. Agarwal
Year Founded: 2012
Investors: 500 Startups, Karamveer Singh, Dinesh Tejwani