Freecharge.in allows users easy online recharge of prepaid mobiles across operators using card- payments and in return offers them free gift coupons worth the recharge value
MUMBAI, INDIA: These are times wherein Internet businesses or e-commerce portals in India are struggling to come up with unique and original business-models.
But this city based e-commerce site Freecharge.in, which has just completed two years on August 15, continues to march on a strong growth trajectory – thanks to its unique business idea compared to others.
Freecharge.in - a business arm of Accelyst Solutions Pvt Ltd - lets users recharge their prepaid mobiles online in a hassle free way and in return offers gift coupons of the same value.
Like most e-commerce sites, users need to register with Freecharge.in by entering his/her mobile number and operator. They will then have to enter the recharge amount along with selecting coupons of equal value from the available list of retail merchants and brands and subsequently pay the amount online using either net-banking, credit, debit or ATM card.
Users get discount gift coupons of his/her choice equivalent to the recharge amount. The coupons are sent to users immediately either by email or is couriered with a Rs. 10 fee per transaction. It uses CC Avenue as payment gateway partner and according to them, transactions are executed in a secured manner.
''If you look at Indian e-commerce sites there's a dearth of innovative ideas. So our idea was to create a new channel that addresses both online and offline businesses,'' says CEO of Freecharge.in Kunal Shah.
Unlike other sites, Shah adds that theirs is a need based transaction model where users come to the site to recharge mobiles and recharging is their need and not the gifts.
When they started two years ago, Shah informs that the company targeted 200-300 cities with prepaid mobile users and confidently says, ''Today we are among the top five e-commerce sites on transaction basis.''
He claims that his site conducts around 42,000-45,000 transactions daily; however, they look to increase that to 100,000-200,000 per month. Today, the venture earns revenue from four sources – mobile operators, coupon fees and merchants, retailers and brands.
The start-up has 120 odd tie-ups with various national level merchants, retailers and brands. Its 50 member small team has some big names of online industry that include Nag Thota, former CTO -Yatra.com and Deep Ubhi, Burrp.com's founder.
In fact, the portal's unique business proposition not only has attracted 2.5 million loyal users but Sequoia Capital, the Californian venture capital firm has invested $4 million in Freecharge.in early this year.
''The primary objective of funding is to invest in team and revamping the business through right kind of infrastructure including software and hardware. We are moving to Java stake and also looking at Amazon cloud to expand the portal's capabilities,'' Shah explains.
''We will be launching site's version 2 in next 15-20 days and are planning to add around 80-100 people in next one year or so,'' Shah concludes.