Interview with Pankaj Agarwal: co-founder of clickindia.com

About Clickindia.com

Pankaj Agarwal, clickindia
Pankaj Agarwal: co-founder of clickindia.com

Clickindia.com ranks among the leading classified websites in India, offering free ad-posting service to over 6 million users a month and serving over 1,000,000 live ads as on date.

Clickindia was started with a team of 5 people in April 2007 by Pankaj Agarwal and Sushan Rungta. Pankaj is a post graduate from IIM Indore and has worked with Citigroup prior to co-founding clickindia. He heads the marketing initiative for the site. Sushan has completed Masters in Computer Application from Amity University and heads the technology initiative.

Clickindia is among the 50 most visited Indian websites and has won accolades and recognitions for having helped small and medium enterprises extend their reach to a huge internet-savvy market without spending anything on advertising.

Clickindia was honored with the Red Herring 100 Asia 2009 Winners Award last year. The award recognizes the 100 “Most Promising” companies in Asia driving the future of technology. More recently, its founders, Pankaj and Sushan had been shortlisted finalists for Young Entrepreneur Awards 2010 by Businessworld, India’s largest selling business magazine. Recent reports released by Comscore and Komli Media show clickindia.com ranked at 37th and 39th place respectively among the top Indian websites (as on 11th May, 2010).

The website exists in 15 cities and plans to extend its reach to more tier II and III cities in near future. It also has a very popular mobile website (http://wap.clickindia.com) which is used by over 1 million users every month.

We had an email interview with the co-founder of clickindia, Pankaj Agarwal.

Q1. Tell us something about your decision to become an entrepreneur so early in age. Why you thought leaving the job and starting your own initiative would be a better choice?

I come from a business background, so I always knew I had to get into business. The proposition to start something on your own has always interested me. I had an idea in mind and a strong urge to turn it into reality.

Q2. How you thought of starting clickindia.com?

I got several opportunities and proposals when I was working with Citibank. However, the prospect of doing something in classifieds industry seemed interesting as it had both scale and challenge.

Q3. Who are your customers and whom you are targeting?

We aim to reach all internet users who have something to offer or a requirement for any item/service be it jobs, housing, automobiles, appliances, travel agents, furniture, antiques, health equipments and trainers, home tutors, business alliances, and virtually everything else.

Q4. What is your business model? At the same time, how you make money out of it?

Clickindia is a platform where buyers and sellers meet. We do not charge for posting listings or sending responses. We have 100% advertising supported model.

Q5. How you market your website?

pankaj agarwalWe are a self-funded company and don’t have much to spend on marketing, so we rely mostly on word of mouth referrals. To do this, our focus is to help users receive more responses so we try to make using clickindia convenient. We have been lucky that our users are finding clickindia an easy to use website and recommending it within their network.

Q6. Over the years, how you feel the customer awareness has changed towards online opportunities?

There has been a significant upsurge in awareness among users. People look up to online sources to advertise their products and services a lot frequently now. The reason for this is scale, effectiveness and lower costs. From a few thousands of users in the first 8 months, we now have millions of users visiting the site, and increasing. Many of our users completely rely on online advertising for their business.

Q7. How has been the response of customers? Any feedback from their side?

The response from our users is amazing. We have a dedicated testimonials section at http://www.clickindia.com/testimonial.php where users talk about how they benefit from the site. We receive anywhere between 10-15 testimonials from users every month expressing their happiness and gratitude. Many of our users say they completely rely on Clickindia for their business. We feel proud and happy to be able to render our services to our esteemed users.

Q8. How you personally grew as an entrepreneur?

I come from a business family, so some of the basics were given. However, the experience I have gained in the last 3 years actually doing something is humbling. Being an entrepreneur instills a sense of responsibility and gives a wider perspective of looking at things. I have started giving respect to hurdles now because they are the best mentors one can have. Making a business grow has its kick but a hurdle every now and then creates a balance and keeps me attached to my roots.

Before I started clickindia, I always assumed that success comes once & it should come first. However, now it is easy to see that failure is integral to anything that one does and it is okay to fail. A hundred failed experiments will give you the experience of how not to do a thing 100 ways!

Q9. What was the hardest moment in your life being an entrepreneur?

Life is a journey for me with regular ups and downs. Therefore it is very hard to pick one instance. But yes, the first year was tough because we had no revenues, very less traffic & did not know if we were going in the right direction. All we had was (and we still have) a dedicated team which believed in clickindia and its potential. The one thing we gained because of this is that the team members became one unit and with a combined push, we were able to scale up.

Q10. Any advice for future entrepreneurs from your personal and professional experience?

Do not give up. You should always have a realistic estimate of your business gestation period & you should wait till that period before you call it a success or failure. Sometimes, the initial days are easy but they may not sustain and/or vice-versa. Manage your cash flow as closely as you can. And the last thing, your team is your asset so all of them should be able to see what you see. Work hard on that.

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