India as tech/digital start-up hub
A report published by NASSCOM titled ‘Tech Start-ups in India: A Bright Future’ suggests that India has become home to tech/ digital start-ups with factors including ‘opportunities existing in the domestic market, access to capital/mentors, and increased M&A and consolidation activities’ reinforcing each other to trigger this trend. The number estimates predict establishment of more than 11,500 start-ups by the end of 2020, provided the landscape favoring the growth continues to evolve.
MyCollegeAdda is a start-up in Technology Space. It is an online platform for college students to stay connected and promote collaborative consumption. On this website (accessible through any device – mobile, tablet or laptop) students can post and search for:
- Used Books, Notes, Furniture and Electronics
- House/flat available on rent, nearby to college or partners required to share house/flat
- Carpool available for to and fro trips to college
Mycollegeadda is founded by two people- Prashul Agrawal, who has wide experience in consulting business and domain industry and Vedansh Agrawal, fresh B.Tech (Computer Science) graduate from U.P. Technical University, Currently working with IT Company in NCR. The very thought of founding Mycollegeadda originated from the fact that Prashul and Vedhansh themselves have faced these issues as students in their college life. They believe that there is no better time than now itself to address these issues, as college students are getting closer through social networking and more involving with increased number of smartphone & internet access.
Both felt a need to establish Mycollegeadda as a peer-to-peer marketplace where college students can come together to help themselves. The justification lies in strength of peer-to-peer network where buyers are also sellers. Theoretically, it means N participants can enable N x (N-1) transactions, as everybody will be having something to offer to others.
Insights into Mycollegeadda.com
Students post free ads on www.mycollegeadda.com and buyers search for things they need. The transaction between seller and buyer gets completed within the college campus. As a result, college students earn & save money, expand social network and contribute their bit to save environment.
The portal was launched on ‘National Technology Day’ i.e. May 11, 2015 after 8 months of R&D and testing. It has 700 universities and more than 35,000 affiliated colleges listed on website enrolling more than 20 million students. It also has more than 25 unique visitors to site daily with average of around 4 minutes per session spent by a college student.
As of today, the team of Mycollegeadda consists of 12 people:
- Two co-founders Prashul and Vedansh
- Chief Mentor- Saurabh Jain, IIM-B graduate with over 10 years of IT industry experience
- Two employees Yatin Agrawal, Working on SEO, Noida and Umang Mittal, App Development, Noida
- Five College Management Intern (Working on Social Marketing and Content Development) at New Delhi, NCR, Bangalore and Chennai
- Two College Tech Intern (Working on UI and API/Panel development) at NCR
Revenue generation is still to start and process for it will be integrated as it has acquired sizable chunk of registered customers.
The competitive advantage in Target Market
Target Market of the website is the college students in India. As of today, there is no comprehensive platform to cater to the needs of college students, right from selling & purchasing of used books, notes, electronics, stationary or finding partners for carpool or to share flat. The standalone options available do not focus on addressing needs conveniently or economically. College students need to reach out to middleman to buy/sell used books, electronics and furniture and search flat for rent. This process is costly, inconvenient and untrustworthy. The Company takes this as an underlying opportunity to create value for all the stakeholders at large.
In sale of used goods, the CONVENIENCE to see and feel the product at desired time and location act as the enabler. Through mycollegeadda.com, all transactions tend to happen either within comfort of college campus or a pre-decided place in vicinity of college.
It cuts out the layers of middle-men in transactions for sale and purchase of used books, electronics, musical instruments, furniture and flat for rent, thereby students SAVE and MAKE MONEY. The other factor that plays out in sale and purchase of used products is TRUST. As the buyer (borrower) and seller (lender) live in same eco-system of college life, trust builds up naturally, thus transaction success rate is high.
In addition to this, the intrinsic benefits of mycollegeadda.com marketplace include the SOCIAL Benefits of meeting like-minded people and discovering friends that will add networking value to the platform; and contribution towards saving environment as valuable resources required to produce new goods are spared.
Strategic challenges and opportunities
The critical challenges that Mycollegeadda team faced and steps taken to get over those are:
- To have college students visit website and post initial ads for the products (like used books, electronics, etc.) that they would like to sell. As in, initially the website had no posts and students visiting website considered it to be trifling and disconnected for they were not finding posts from their college, hence assuming nobody is using this website.
“To address this, we reached out to hire interns from colleges all across India, and let those interns do the talking on our behalf to their college peers. It really made a lot of difference as students get to understand and learn on how they could benefit by using this website to save on their expenses” Prashul explains.
- Once basic functionalities of website were built, there was a need for additional hands to work towards improving UI and add other functionalities to benefit target customers – the college students. But as the company had no office and no money to pay the salary, it could not hire best of people to work for them.
“Then we reached out to our friends and relatives who may know some of their colleagues or known persons with required skills or working on same technology that we wanted. Through this we were able to increase our team as people were more than happy to join our start-up and work for it for free as it didn’t ask too much out of their work or hours” he adds.
Prashul conveys that the ability to tackle every challenge came from their greatest learning: Openly accept feedback or criticism and work to improve on it.
The future ahead
Mycollegeadda is looking for investors to expand its market base and business. It aims to build and add new functionalities as it moves further in journey to create a sustainable solution for college students’ requirements. It also is adding more and more colleges to its marketplace and plans to have a college coordinator in each of these colleges. The Company is in process of developing mobile application for its website and will roll it out soon.