Despite being a unicorn (most recently valued at $1.47 billion), Quikr will always be one of India’s quintessential startups–entering the market as the country’s first online classifieds platform in 2008. Since then, it has expanded rapidly and now boasts more than 30 million monthly unique visitors.
To learn more about how Quikr got to where it is today–and where it is going–I spoke to the man behind its success, Pranay Chulet, Quikr’s founder and CEO.
Ambika Behal: Quikr was founded in 2008, and is still considered a startup to some extent. What’s the problem you came to solve?
Pranay Chulet: While in the United States, I had witnessed the disruption of the traditional classifieds market due to the advent of digital players. There was nothing similar in India at the time and there was a clear opportunity for me to create a large online classifieds platform so that’s how it all began.
We started as a classic horizontal platform with the simple thought of bringing buyers and sellers together. Over time, we became a collection of verticals that go much deeper in large categories such as C2C, cars, homes, jobs and services.
And yes, as we’ve become larger, we’ve worked very hard to stay like a startup–fast-moving, flexible and frugal. We still are more a walk-and-talk kind of place rather than a long-meetings type, and that’s how we like it. It would be particularly uncool for us to turn into some slow moving monolithic machine as we grow. Our very name is Quikr.
Behal: How has the company evolved since then?
Chulet: Since our early years, certain categories on our platform kept getting larger and larger due to a strong organic pull from the market. By 2013-14, the scale we had reached in these categories was the Indian internet market’s biggest open secret. That’s when we decided to go deeper and start offering consumers a richer experience customized for these categories.
We launched five offshoots–QuikrC2C, QuikrCars, QuikrHomes, QuikrJobs and QuikrServices–under the same mother brand. I think it is safe to say this move changed the market landscape. Now we have the synergies of a horizontal in terms of brand, cross-selling and talent, and yet we also have the specialization and flexibility of single category verticals. Building Quikr was not an easy thing to do, but then the world was not built by those who said they couldn’t do something.