Ecommerce, Internet

Understanding the online coupon industry – Mydala’s journey with Anisha Singh

mydala-logoMydala, leading online couponing platform launched in 2009 by Anisha Singh, today has partnered with more than 100,000 merchants in India and boasts of more than 200 Mn users across 152 cities in the country. Company was initially funded by promoters and then raised an additional investment of INR 1.1 Cr from a group of angel investors, including the founders of CX Partners. Later in 2011, it raised venture capital funding of USD 6 Mn from Info Edge India Ltd.

Mydala broke-even in April 2013 and had turned profitable this quarter. A net revenue run rate of INR 100 crores is anticipated in Q4 of FY14.

Iamwire team caught up with Anisha Singh to know about the overall journey and understand the opportunities for a deal site in a country like India

How is Mydala doing this year?

We’re doing well. We broke even last quarter and turned profitable this quarter, so are happy with the growth and traction we are seeing.

Is Mydala expanding internationally? When can we see this happen?

We had looked very seriously into expanding internationally as had received some interesting partnership propositions from international telecom operators . However, we looked at what we have accomplished and the opportunity that lies within the Indian market. Hence decided to put on hold our ‘ international’ ambition as of now and focus on exploring opportunity in the Indian market by going hyper locally. After the stellar growth and reach we saw via mobile, we decided it was time to give users a more personalized experience by going vernacular. Our mobile app is now in 9 regional languages.

How do you plan on competing with sites like Groupon?

We are a mass market brand, that covers 152 cities in India and has a huge extensive reach via mobile. So in essence, our focus/target markets are quite different. Our people, innovation, moving fast and scaling up rapidly are our key strengths which we focus on a day to day basis. Over the past four years, we have had hyper-competition in our space to very few players left; as a team, we spend more time looking ahead then looking over our shoulders and stay focused on the big picture. Most remaining including Groupon cater to a smaller specialized niche audience in metro cities.

You partnered with Vodafone for My Delights and Tata Docomo for  M-coupon service, Docomo deals. How has this partnership affected MyDala’s business? Are you planning for any more tie ups and collaborations in the near future?

Vodafone is our oldest partnership with a telco and it’s been great. We’ve learnt a lot and we like the fact that the Vodafone team,like ours, keeps experimenting with new value propositions for the user. Our offering to the Vodafone users is one of a kind and unique – tailored to each user.

Our relationship with Tata Docomo, though recent, has been great because they are equally responsive and think outside the box like us. This is interesting since we have an expertise in data analytics and provide real time results to the operator based user behavior and mobile usage type.

Yes, we have already done some more strategic partnerships which we will be announcing shortly.

Mydala is targeting INR 100 Cr in net revenue this fiscal. What are the key drivers of its success? This 100 Cr is the gross value of service rendered to the consumers or the net value of coupons purchased from Mydala?

We do not count gross revenue. Revenue at Mydala is always net revenue which is only our share. The key drivers for the success is focusing on merchants and growing fast on mobile.

What opportunities do you see for the Indian entrepreneurs in deal aggregator business?

We see a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs in general. Each day the support structure for entrepreneurs and start ups seems to be maturing.

Although it’s still not the valley, but it’s become much better from when we started 4 years ago. There are a lot of angel networks, forums, incubators and support systems that are helping the new entrepreneurs think innovative.

What are the important consideration an entrepreneur must keep before coming into this field?

Success is not a day’s work. So it’s important to have a vision but it’s great if that comes with some perseverance to back it up. Within 3 months of us starting, there were 38 deal sites and counting. Our competitive tracker was ridiculously long but now it’s less than a handful. It’s not like we had better luck than some, as matter of fact funding post the initial months was a regular concern, as was the ever growing well-funded competition. I think the two things we did well were persistence, and looking at Mydala from the perspective of a merchant and a user. The key was innovation and resourcefulness.

What are the challenges for the same?

When we started off, low barriers to entry was a significant risk; over time, we have built scale across both sides of our platform, which is hard to replicate. Over time, our technology and analytics capability are becoming our strengths and our biggest mitigate of any competitive risk. Focused execution is the key to our success.

With most of the coupon sites moving to eCommerce like Deals and you, Snapdeal, Mydala continues on the path. Do you believe an eventuality of moving towards the eCommerce segment?

There are companies that are doing really well in eCommerce. I order from all to check the user experience and love what some of them have done.

It’s definitely commendable. That being said, that’s not our business model, our model is merchant marketing and we have no plans of deviating. As a matter of fact we have a section on Mydala that showcases online coupons where we showcase all the deals from all ecommerce players.

How has Mydala addressed the issue of service providers not providing the right services to the people who take coupons from your site?

Our key focus has been on continually engaged and deep merchant relationships. This allows us to resolve any service issues promptly. We typically face very minimal issues and even in those, our resolution time is typically well within a few hours.

Anisha Singh, Mydala

We turned a small profit this last quarter. The primary driver is the fantastic team we have built which works tirelessly. Our scale on mobile and Internet and local merchant coverage in 152+ cities in India are additional drivers as well.

Can you share an indicative study on category wise preference of consumers for couponing?

Our top selling categories are Health and Beauty, F&B, Services (Travel, Hotels, Cab Services, etc.).

Can you share what has been the challenging part in building Mydala, how did you address same?

Building a business which can scale rapidly has been our primary focus. We did big things with less money because at that point we had no other choice. This in hindsight turned out to be a blessing since we built a solid foundation on perseverance and hard work, our near-term focus is scaling it up rapidly. My team is a young/fast moving one and it is important we innovate and execute well as we grow.

How would you best position Mydala as, an eCommerce site or an advertising platform?

Our vision is to be the giant/enabler of retail commerce: Offline and Online in India by increasing user buying power while driving users to merchants through price and discovery. This has been our focus from day one; even when we had pitched to our existing investors we told them that we were going to be the largest merchant marketing platform churning out offers, so an advertising platform is what we are.

Do you feel there is still an opportunity in online coupon space for entrepreneurs / innovations etc.?

There is a plenty of opportunity in this space. Users in India are deal hunters; a recent report had mentioned that 87% of online customers admit to looking for deals before making a purchase. Increasing Internet penetration, low cost gadgets and consumer awareness will fuel the rise of the digital coupon industry and there will be plenty of innovation happening in the near future in this space.

How would the eCommerce in India shape up in next 5 years, who will lead the market? Retailers, Marketplaces or Aggregators?

I know the flavor of the month is Marketplaces, since that’s being heavily bet on, but I think Retailers, who already execute well offline, who understand online and are successfully able to execute on both over the next 5 years will be the ones to watch out for.

What is response are you getting from your mobile platform? Which mobile commerce platform do you use? What percentage of the total transactions are from mobile?

Our mobile traction is rapidly growing across all our platforms: WAP, USSD, Apps (Multi-lingual 9 languages); 90% of our 24 Mn monthly unique visitors are Pull-based (primarily Mobile users), which is leading to a high transaction rate. 50%+ of our transactions are from mobile. Our look to book ratio is in the 15% range.

Do you really think mCommerce will surpass web retailing? Will it truly grow huge in time to come? How far is that time?

In a country where there are over 930 Mn mobile subscribers against 160 Mn Internet users (Including 86 Mn mobile Internet users), mobile enabled e-tailing will surpass web retailing. For that to happen, mobile payments, security and government policies are the key points which need to be addressed.

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