Realbox is a startup that helps businesses reach their potential by increasing sales through the power of business intelligence, Consumer focused Social Media and Online and Offline Marketing Campaigns. They use Predictive Analysis to decrease risk, lower cost and improve customer service. Here are some of the excerpts from an interview with one of its founders, Preksha Kaparwan.
1. Tell us about your background before Realbox. Share with us briefly about your family, education, entrepreneurial journey and the inception of Realbox.
I come from an army family. My father is an Administrative officer in Border Road organization, so naturally I grew up being hopelessly in love with my country and its demography.
I never stayed in the same school for more than two years and it was fun. I met so many people and made some amazing friends from beautiful cultures.
As I belong to a middle class family, I was expected to do a job but I refused as I was free-spirited. They tried reasoning with me as they dearly wanted their daughter to be an engineer but that did not persuade me, so they gave me a choice that either I get an admission in the best college in the country or I will have to do engineering. I agreed and got myself into IHM PUSA. They couldn’t argue furthermore. After I finished my graduation I decided to be a Chef.
I started my career as a chef in a 5 star Heritage property – The Imperial, New Delhi. After 2 and half years I left as a Sous Chef.
I was already at a position of authority, but still, I couldn’t make my own decisions. This bugged me. I had strong opinions and I liked to see them mature. It was an amazing experience to work with a variety of employees and this shaped me for the future as well.
I landed in a lectureship job within a month after that. I was young and new, and it was challenging initially. That was interesting enough for me. I stayed up for two semesters and managed to get the best results they have seen.
Then again it was itching me to find something new, interesting and challenging. Around that time Saurabh got in touch with me. I had known him for more than a year so I knew his erudition and capabilities.
He was working on a software solution for restaurant domain, specifically building customer experience and automating kitchen operations. What could have been more interesting than that! I decided to pick up this opportunity and came to Delhi to help with Product and Business Development.
We had a very small team and a few very good products. I spent a long time going from restaurant to restaurant trying to figure out to whom and how to sell these. I have been broken and mended, we all have been.
We had technology that no one could match but we could not figure out how to sell it good, we had something very few companies in the world had and yet we were struggling to even pay for ourselves. It was the time we realized that the custom product model will never scale up since Saurabh himself used to write all the programs and I wrote little that I could. Yes, I taught myself coding so that we could use all the hands available to us.
That’s when we started looking for a more stable business model, a scalable one and December 2014 was when Saurabh (My Co-founder and CEO of Realbox), Arjun (Co-Founder and CTO of Realbox) and I conceived our business idea. By that time our cash flow reduced to none, so now, we were left with a very good idea but no means to take it further. None of us were being paid but we had every intention to make something out of us.
And then this series of events started, we were being approached by various investors and we thought that this is the time things will change. In February 2015 we were given an acquisition offer by the then market leaders in food tech.. That did not work out but we were in high spirits now. We formed a company on March 31st and having wasted enough time to get funds, we decided to just start developing whilst funding ourselves with the little money that we were making through side projects.
And a year from then, we became profitable and comfortable in our shoes.
2. Can you share your views about data intelligence and how it has become the need of the hour? What’s in it for startups?
In a time like ours where businesses and consumer ratio has narrowed down drastically. Data intelligence is the key to unlock next opportunity. There is a gap of flow of information in real time when it comes to hospitality industry and profiling of customer becomes impossible, resulting in miss-targeted ads and late response to the on-going sales crisis. The hospitality market in India is going to grow to more than $ 78 billion by the end of 2018 and a technology to cope this doesn’t exist at the required level.
There is an opportunity here for everyone to figure out what are those few things that clicks to your consumers – this was earlier possible for online businesses but we are brining it to offline world too, which is where it is required the most right now. Startups are at the right place to implement this at very early stage and growth hack into success.
3. What is Realbox all about? Tell us in detail about the product offering and the target segment?
Realbox.in is a Data Analytics Startup, currently working to aid hospitality industry with Business Intelligence solutions. Creating a recognizable and readable data format for the business owners to trigger actions on and be able to do more specific targeted marketing. With Pulse-Dashboard, it enables the user to use most powerful CRM system which understands the customer and create personalized offers.
Our product Pulse is like google analytics for offline businesses. We help businesses to get their business analyzed in real-time and raise trigger if the performance goes down, create and manage customer profile and use it to do targeted marketing and personalizing offers for each guest and increase loyalty and repeat business with effective tracking, hence giving a definite rise in the sales of up to 20%. We hold a published patent in customer profiling and personalizing customer experience.
We are currently targeting restaurants, movie theaters and retail outlets. We are proud to have an entertainment giant like PVR in our client list and many restaurant chains in India and abroad.
4. What is your competition in the market? What is it that sets you apart from your competition?
There are two, Capillary Technologies (India) and The Fishbowl (U.S). Our competitors cater to a very high-end market and subsequently their cost of operation and pricing is also high, while we are for every business out there and cost really nominal. However, they have changed their model in recent years and so our offerings are quite different and accessible to regular store owner. More over we are leveraging a patented customer profiling tool that will help us create a more scalable and palatable solution.
5. What is the revenue model of Realbox? Can you briefly summarize the growth achieved in both volume and value from the day1 till now?
Right now the businesses are more open to incorporating technology in their processes. They are well-educated and aware of the market situation. While online businesses are feeling a cross drift, brick and mortar businesses want to unleash the opportunity to grow more.
We started when it was lean for technology like ours to be understood but now we are at the right place and at the right time. We have been operational for 1 year 3 months now. In our first year of operation we achieved breakeven and became profitable and acquired our most important flagship clients. From the beginning of this year till now, we have already earned in revenue what we made in the last entire year and at the same time, the number of clients has doubled and so has our team.
6. Can you tell us about your other founders/core team members, their backgrounds and rich experience?
Saurabh Moody – CEO/Co-Founder
A Microsoft alumnus, he is the technology brain with more than 17 years of experience in engineering, integration, engine and utilizing data science. Very early in life he realized that technology will be the future. Since then he worked with many renowned companies, was part of team creating .NET, designed most popular ETL Client and ETL Server and founded two of his own companies and with successful exit from those started working on his 3rd idea. Meanwhile he published a patent in the field of customer profiling.
Arjun Sudhanshu – CTO/Co-Founder
A POS Integration and Data Mining expert with more than 8 years of experience, he has worked with Tata Consulting Services in the past. Also, he has worked immensely on data security and dashboard implications of data to study the growth and workability of ideas in different domains.
7. How is Realbox funded? Is there any early stage money/seed stage experience that you would like to share with us?
We did our breakeven in the first few months of operation. We have a good news regarding funding that we will share with you in the coming times.
8. What will Realbox look like in 5 years from now? All perspectives – people, business, revenues, team, size or anything you foresee for the venture.
That’s too far-fetched to comment on right now. The way startups are, you never know what next day might bring up but I would still be optimistic and would like to say that we might be able to achieve the ecosystem that we are right now trying to build for businesses and users where things work in auto mode and technology is no longer a hassle to use (like it is right now), it will all be personalized yet very professional. We do believe that we have a potential to scale this to more countries and millions of more businesses. We aim to make business much more smoother.
We are focusing on creating a seamless service environment; lowering the cost of marketing and making it tremendously focused and personalized. We believe it’s going to impact the offline business ecosystem forever and that there will be no more shots in the dark – just calculated steps, always.
9. Any school/ campus-connect initiatives that you are pursuing or plan to pursue?
There is no such initiative we are doing yet, but we soon plan to have a open house play lab for students and technology enthusiasts to experience and work with the technology devices that are either not easily accessible to all or most of them may not have any/proper guidance to work with.
10. Any experience or advice which you would like to share with soon to be start-up founders out there?
I gave up on my dream almost a hundred times and gave up on myself even more; but then both these things happened at a different time.
Of course I knew it were going to be an uphill ride but you just need a rock to hang on to. My co-founder Saurabh was my mentor and he has been doing this for longer than what I would be able to commit. Every time I gave up I saw him diligently leaning on his laptop and creating our dream and I thought I owe it to him to not give up, he is still creating what we three dreamt of.
It is not about how many hours you put into it, it is how many times you had to remind yourself to eat and sleep. If you can commit to that I think I’ll be reading your story here instead.
We wish all the best for Realbox in its endeavors. Hope you amalgamate business with technology well to reap us all the benefits of advanced data sciences. We look forward to your future actions and propositions!