1. Tell us about your background before Askmonk?
I am an engineer by qualification but my heart has always been in design. Before founding Askmonk, I worked for Goibibo, on their flagship product where my focus was on consumer empathy and performance both. Prior to that I worked for a bay area startup helping them design a complex analytics product for real time monitoring and optimization.
To sum it up I love solving hard problems and helping people the best I can.
Vaibhav Magon – Founder AskMonk
My LinkedIn profile: https://in.linkedin.com/in/vaibhav-magon-80818b33
2. Share with us briefly about your entrepreneurial journey and inception of Askmonk?
Askmonk happened last year when a colleague of mine wanted to seek some career advice and was looking for someone to help. I introduced him to my dad who has been an astrologer for the last 25 years (he has a pretty strong following!) and we could help him focus and plan better. In that moment I saw this opportunity — but strangely not before that! — To connect the seekers and the giver online.
We do it in a very secure and personalised manner and cater to people from different walks of life. This is pretty much how Askmonk came about to be.
Youtube Explainer Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xgnrN5zGQ4
3. What is Askmonk all about? Tell us in detail about the services offered?
Askmonk, is “Astrology on the go!”
Like I mentioned earlier we bring people and professional astrologers together. For techspeak we are simply a mobile-first tech startup that aims to transform the way people seek astrology online.
We offer our clients to handpicked astrologers on the panel according to their context/situation and then engage with them on a conversational Q&A style format to give astrological advice/solutions: more or less the way it happens offline.
For a broader analysis and descriptive reports we engage deeply one-on-one and dive in with the gory details to find the best.
Android App Link : http://bit.ly/24BMbbu
4. What is your competition in the market? What is it that sets you apart from your competition?
There are quite a few players in this space – GaneshaSpeaks, AstroSage etc., but most of them are old players, some even a decade old, and are quite cumbersome to use. I mean the usual dump-it-all on the web marketplaces.
We on the other hand take astrology very seriously and provide access to professional astrologers on a very simple Q&A style conversational format that is both natural to how people seek astrology offline and also very up close and personal.
All our astrologers are selected after due diligence based on the number of years of experience, education and their passion to pursue astrology as an enabler. Askmonk stands apart with its clean and easy to use interface. It takes no more than 30 seconds to access one of our handpicked astrologers and know your stars and their effects on your life.
5. What is the business model of Askmonk? Can you briefly summarise the growth achieved in both volume and value from the day1 till now?
At this point we’re growing very rapidly even though we’ve been on market for just three months. So far we have engaged with over a 1000 paid clients covering over 170 cities all over India. Our customers are mostly young people aged between 18 to 35 years although we do try to help anyone who comes at our doorstep.
6. How has been your beginner’s journey? What were the challenges you faced in setting up and scaling up your enterprise?
Fantastic, but it has not been easy. I was in a cozy high paying job when I called it “quits” and started Askmonk. There are a thousand things to do when starting up and a thousand more once you’re over those, and one can never be sure of performance the very next day.
But thankfully we’re in the business of astrology and it is always easy for us to get advice for ourselves and the guidance we need. Challenges for us are not unique to us by any means. These are faced by any other startup out there. The usual challenges and sometimes red tape makes it slow to put things together. Fundraising, as you know, is yet another hard nut to crack but given our ecosystem is maturing up lately I’m quite hopeful.
Things started rolling the moment we jumped the ship, and we’re quite liking the momentum.
7. Can you tell us about your other founders/core team, their background and rich experience?
We are a team of three engineers with diverse backgrounds ranging from product development to operations with companies like Goibibo, IBM etc. Other than that our astrologer’s panel is managed by Mr. Sunil Magon, my dad, an IIT Roorkee alumnus and an astrologer for the last 25 years. We have deep connections within the community of astrologers and are able to leverage that for people to find their right match.
Apart from that we have one Mr. Marvin Danig, a tech investor and adviser from Washington DC, US who is helping us with scale and strategy for our business.
8. How are you all funded? Any early stage money/seed stage experience that you would like to share with us?
We raised a pre-seed a few months back but are now actively looking for the next level. Other than that recurring revenue gives us a lot of hope.
9. What will Askmonk look like in 10 years from now? All perspectives – people, business, revenues, team, size or anything you foresee for the venture.
Astrology has seen a tremendous advancement in recent years and is only growing with advent of scientific tools and better understanding of people. In the coming years it will expand to new horizons and adapt according to the new challenges of the 21st century. Askmonk wants to be the fulcrum in that change. We envision a future where astrology is as easy as getting a recharge on your phone. We aim to be the best medium for people to seek professional astrology!
Any experience or advice you would like to share with soon to be startup founders out there?
It hasn’t been long enough for me to really give advice away but here is my general outlook:
Entrepreneurship is a lot harder than it spells. Don’t do it just because you saw your friend do it. Take it up only if you know you can solve a real problem for someone out there. Then again, if you do, do not jump into early conclusions with your startup. Do not give up easily. As long as your aim is to make someone’s life easier you’re rooted for success no matter how hard it comes at you.
We wish AskMonk all the very best in their future endeavors!