New Year Postcard- 4: 2015 brought change, 2016 must bring growth

Let politics not derail what the country’s entrepreneurs are setting out to do - as told to Saritha Rai

Written by Pranay Chulet | Updated: January 8, 2016 5:01 pm
Quikr, start up india, make in india, digital india, Pranay Chulet, narendra modi, modi start up campaign, letter to narendra modi, indian express column, india news, latest news We changed our organisation. If I had to put it in more abstract terms, “change” would be the overriding theme of my 2015. I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring. (Source: Illustration by CR Sasikumar)

Dear Prime Minister,

The year 2015 has been gripping, both on the business and personal front for me. I was asked to provide a few glimpses into my year and ask any questions or suggestions I have for you, so here goes.

Overall, it was one hell of a year as a lot has happened in our businesa. We moved headquarters to Bangalore. We launched several verticals that work as separate units. We hired 1,000 people. We changed our logo. All of this has come together in the last six months. It has been a super-intense and exciting year. My wife Tina and I miss Mumbai sometimes, but we love Bangalore.

Quikr just moved into a new office in Hebbal in north Bangalore. I was able to locate exactly the kind of office I wanted. It’s an old textile factory that we converted to my dream office. I can offer people a money-back guarantee that they will like it.

In 2015, we changed the game and took our business to the next level. We pushed the thinking on the idea of classifieds as it exists globally. We made it a collection of verticals — cars, jobs, homes, services and used goods — that are tied together as a brand. This has not been attempted elsewhere in the world. In our home category, for instance, we provide prospective buyers and renters a street view of the property, which is a first. We changed the verticals, took them deeper and made them look different from each other.

Verticalisation was the biggest idea for us in 2015. “Aasan hai badalna” is Quikr’s tagline. We changed our organisation. If I had to put it in more abstract terms, “change” would be the overriding theme of my 2015. I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring.

One of our big achievements in 2015 was being able to maintain Quikr’s fabric and culture right through the launch of our various verticals and moving our headquarters. Another achievement was getting so much new talent into our start-up in such a short period of time. Standing where I am at this moment, I can see 600 people on three floors, and it is astonishing that we pulled it off in four months.

What could we not do? Everything in life takes more time than you envisage. We did a bunch of successful vertical launches, but we have one more industry-changing campaign that we wanted to do. We ran out of time. We’ll do it in 2016.

Looking at the big picture in India, there were many incidents all over the country where women’s safety was compromised in 2015. That has been a disappointment for me.

At a personal level, I have had two big misses. I have a newfound passion: burpees. I’m yet to reach my fitness goal of doing 210 burpees in under 40 minutes, but I’m getting there — I’m now at 47 minutes. I’d also promised myself that I’d go back to my old hobby, guitar and music, but I have not been able to.

In 2016, I hope politics does not derail what the country’s entrepreneurs are setting out to do. My other fear is that we are growing very fast as a company and I hope we continue to stay focused on quality as much as on quantity. People get intoxicated by listings, page-view numbers and such metrics. My goal is that when people come to our site, they should find what they want.

I really hope that our strategy of verticalisation will help us continue to dominate categories. We have done the ground work and I hope our company will have a defining year in 2016. 2015 was a year of change, I want 2016 to be a year of torrid growth.

All my close ones are healthy and happy, and I wish for everybody another good year. Tina is working on launching a venture. 2016 is the year when she will start focusing on growing what she has built.

As for my parents, my mother is one of my best friends. My dad can teach me to be better organised. I would love it if my parents could spend a little more time with us in Bangalore. I want to encourage my mother to take her painting a little more seriously.

What can the government do to help? The country badly needs infrastructure. I think that as prime minister, you should get the support you deserve. I believe that you can do a great job if you get more support from the people around you. The government should help the digital industry flourish by allowing it some leeway. Securing it has no meaning if there are no users left.

Data speeds should improve. As prime minister, you are focused on the right things and you should continue to stay focused. I hope you can push Digital India further because I believe you are a forward-looking leader and see how technology can be used to drive growth.

My one wish for you in 2016 is, please continue to drive hard and do not get distracted. Stay focused on the things you are already focused on. Do not let small things sidetrack you as you are running a big country. You have good, strong views and you work hard to implement them. I would also ask you to continue doing yoga and stay healthy.

As for Quikr, I would love to ask you if the government could partner with us on blue-collar jobs listings, both at the Central and at the state levels. If we could bring opportunities closer to those looking for entry-level and blue-collar jobs, that would be so good. We have launched Quikr Jobs in eight languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi and Marathi. If I were to meet you, I would ask you to allow us to work with the government. It would really help people looking for jobs. It would be a worthy cause socially and would benefit millions. The scale of change we can bring about would be amazing.

The phrase that comes to my mind when we say “end of 2015” is “action… to be continued”.

***Tomorrow: A Mumbai filmmaker

Chulet, based in Bangalore, is founder and CEO of Quikr. As told to Saritha Rai

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