Instamojo is a one-stop #D2CTech company, offering an enabling platform for MSMEs and D2C brands, empowering sellers to start, scale, and manage their businesses online. Since its inception in 2012, Instamojo has ably addressed and resolved the last mile needs of its customers, having enabled million+ MSMEs’ custodians. Instamojo is all set to reshape the future discourse in the D2C space by catering to diverse seller needs, powered by the collective force of technology, data, and design.
Ankur Sharma is the Co-founder & Chief Product Officer at Instamojo, THE all-in-one #D2CTech. He has played a pivotal role in driving the growth and development of Instamojo's e-commerce product line, which includes innovative offerings like an online store builder and smart pages. He has been instrumental in creating Instamojo’s robust tech stack, employing emerging technology solutions like ChatGPT to longtail customers, scaling the business, and developing features like “Get Me a Shop”, critical to the business.
He has played a crucial role in establishing a “lean team” by implementing process automation within the company. Ankur brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role. Prior to joining the founding team, he served as the Vice President of Analytics at Instamojo, where he spearheaded data science initiatives and contributed to the company's product-led growth strategies. With a strong educational background, Ankur is an alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.
Recently, we engaged in an interview with Ankur Sharma Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Instamojo, He spoke about how Instamojo is hinging onto the no-code wave in India to accelerate the entrepreneurial spirit of India. and plans for future expansion and much more.
Instamojo is the all-in-one D2Ctech company that helps every venture become a brand. The platform is designed to assist sellers in establishing, expanding, and managing their online businesses. Entrepreneurs in India face two major fears. One, most of them are afraid to start a business because they do not know where to start. Second, the ones who have already started are afraid to scale their business because of the uncertainties involved. Instamojo aims to solve these fears by giving entrepreneurs an easy do-it-yourself option to start, scale, and grow their business online by easily creating a website and integrating payments, shipping, and marketing tools all in one platform. Moreover, all of this is for free for as long as the business wants.
Tell us about Instamojo and your offerings.
We are a #D2Ctech company that specializes in assisting aspiring entrepreneurs to bring their ventures to life and take advantage of the online world. Initially, we started as a payment gateway product but have since expanded our services. Now, we offer e-commerce software that enables these businesses to create their own online stores integrated with payments, shipping, and marketing tools.
How does no-code eliminate the need for expensive developers, reducing development costs?
Traditionally starting a business has been an expensive affair. With the dawn of the internet, the costs of starting a business have significantly reduced. However, the benefits of the internet have not trickled down to all businesses. If you look at businesses today most of them are somewhere in the spectrum of digitization. On the one hand, you have a large portion of businesses that are largely offline businesses but might use a QR code to collect payments. On the other hand, you have a very small minority of businesses that might have a website and run their business online. A vast majority in the middle either do not know how to start their own website or feel there is a lot of investment that is needed to move online. No code helps this vast majority.
Having said that, no-code has become more advanced than before which is resulting in a lot of businesses not going to expensive developers and instead doing everything by themselves. The offerings that we offer have helped businesses not only start but also scale their operations. Some of them are:
- Martech Integration: Once a business has started its venture on Instamojo they are able to just integrate Martech software for customer acquisition with just a click of a button. We have partnered with companies like Interakt to offer small businesses these solutions
- Supply Chain Integration: Businesses can also integrate a delivery partner into their business using the no-code platform to help them deliver their products
- Generative AI Integration: We are planning to bring in plugins that will help businesses use generative AI to create SEO-friendly content and advanced image optimisation for their websites for maximum reach
All of this would have required specific coding skill sets, however, no-code makes all of this very easy
How does Instamojo compare to other similar payment service providers? What differentiates Instamojo from them according to you?
- If you look at the payment landscape for businesses in India it is very exclusive and caters to a very specific set of audiences. At the simplest level, you have players like BharatPe and PhonePe who offer simple payment services to small businesses to collect payments. On the other hand, you have players like Razorpay and Cashfree that offer solutions to bigger businesses and offer some additional services like subscription-based payments and smart pages
- We realized that there is a vast majority of businesses in the middle that do not have any innovation catering to them. They either had to have multiple different players to manage their payments and online business which would bring with it its own inefficiencies
- Hence, we went through a significant transformation to cater to the needs of the missing middle. We have evolved into a D2Ctech company, offering a diverse array of solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of this segment so that size does not have to be the primary constraint to growth. This has set us apart
- We also realized from our payments experience that businesses do not mind paying for payment services but when it comes to paying for setting up an online store, there is some amount of hesitation. Hence we devised an innovative freemium model. Through this businesses can set up an online shop for absolutely free but would pay marginally higher in terms of payment commissions. Practically making businesses pay for the services through their payment volumes. As they grew their payment volumes, it was a natural progression for them to opt for subscription services from us to cut down on the spending on payment commissions
- This created two pools of businesses for us, one was small businesses with limited payment volumes who were happy with the free version, and the second was more mature large businesses who opt for subscription services. This resulted in us always having a steady stream of revenues
- This fostered entrepreneurial inclusion and enabled businesses to test the platform's suitability before upgrading for additional services. The scalable and flexible approach sets Instamojo apart, supporting businesses' growth and success regardless of their size or resources
How has Instamojo's pivot to a D2CTech company helped you in growing your business revenues?
- We recognized that relying solely on payments was not a lucrative business model. Additionally, as more businesses embraced the idea of going online, there was a growing demand for services beyond just payments
- This realization led us to make a strategic shift and transform into a D2C tech company. By broadening our offerings and catering to the evolving needs of businesses, we positioned ourselves as a comprehensive solution provider in the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) space. This transition allowed us to offer a wide range of technology-driven solutions and better serve businesses looking for more than just payment processing capabilities
- Instamojo's dedication to serving its customers has yielded impressive results, with a remarkable 150% year-over-year growth. In 2023, we achieved profitability in terms of EBITDA
What, as per you, are the five important things that Instamojo should be looking at today?
- User experience and ease of use: While we tried to make our platform as simple as possible for businesses of every size there is still a lot of ground to cover for us to reach businesses beyond Tier-1 cities. For this to happen we need to make our services as intuitive as using UPI ro setting up an Instagram account. Hence, we are always striving to make our offerings simpler and bringing in automation where required
- Scalability and Infrastructure: Instamojo is actively working towards diversifying its revenue sources. The evolving market landscape has led businesses to recognize the value of quality services and they are now willing to pay for them. Leveraging this trend, Instamojo is introducing a subscription format for different product types, providing businesses with the option to access enhanced features and capabilities by opting for a paid subscription
- Continuous innovation and market adaptation: Instamojo leads the way in digital payment innovation with their pioneering payment links and sachet loans for micro-entrepreneurs. Now, we are leveraging AI, using platforms like ChatGPT to gain market insights and identify long-tail D2C brands. This strategic initiative enhances operational processes, empowering sellers with automation and personalized experiences
What are your growth priorities for 2023? What’s next on the cards?
- We achieved a remarkable 150% year-on-year growth and attained profitability based on EBITDA in 2023. In the coming year, we aim to onboard 400,000 new merchants during this period
- Today we are focused on catering to micro and small businesses, in the coming quarters we are looking to upgrade our e-commerce offerings to cater to larger D2C businesses
- We are actively working on expanding our network of channel partners who can play a crucial role in scaling the businesses of our customers. These channel partners will collaborate with us to provide valuable support and services, enabling our customers to grow and thrive in their respective markets
What would be your advice for people looking to start a small business?
- Embrace digital presence: Establish a strong online presence through a website, social media, and other digital channels. Leverage digital marketing strategies to reach a wider audience and build brand awareness
- Prioritize customer experience: Focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences from the start. Provide excellent customer service, listen to feedback, and continually improve your products or services based on customer needs
- Be agile and adaptive: Stay flexible and adapt to changing market conditions. Be open to new ideas, embrace innovation, and be willing to pivot if necessary