Launched by K G Abhishek along with his St Xavier’s batchmates Hrushikesh Mande and Chantelle Menezes, Explorate.in is the latest start-up to get onto the e-tailing bandwagon. It is a user-generated discovery engine which garners user-recommended apparel, accessories and products for women. After raising an initial seed round of Rs 30 lakh from a group of investors, the start-up is now looking for the second round of funding. K G Abhishek, founder and CEO of Explorate.in speaks to Pratik Mukane about the venture that wants to make it easier for its customers to sift through thousands of products across online stores and aggregate the best options in one place.
What differentiates Explorate from other start-ups in the space?
We cater to visually appealing products like apparel and home decor, which are not recommended by our team but our users. Every person has a different style statement, and catering to each and everyone of those is only possible through crowd-sourcing. Users on Explorate can maintain their own online wardrobe consisting of their favourite products from across various e-commerce stores in one place. With the help of technology, we want to replicate the offline experience of shopping online and maybe even more. This is just the beginning of social shopping.
How has your business and revenue model evolved?
We are a web-first model. We don’t deem having a mobile app important during the early stages of a start-up. It’s a necessary evil. The biggies in the sector have the advantage of a marketing and advertising budget which helps push their app downloads. Which means, they win almost by default in terms of app downloads.
Trust is a major factor in online shopping. How do you aim to gain the trust of your customers?
Initially, trust is a major factor. People with high disposable incomes don’t mind buying unbranded clothes from a local street vendor, but in online shopping, trust (on delivery, service, after-sales service) is an important factor. To track sales and ensure smooth logistics with partnered e-commerce websites for delivery and after-sales services, we have strategic tie-ups with third party affiliate networks.
How much money have you raised so far?
Explorate was initially bootstrapped. We eventually raised an initial seed round of Rs 30 lakh from a group of investors who helped us put together a strong team and even launch the product.
Are you planning to go for a second round of funding?
We are definitely looking to scale up and are in the process of raising more funds from investors.
Why did you opt to launch with women-centric products?
Women are the trendsetters. That’s why we thought it was the right way to enter the market. Currently, the website features clothing, accessories, quirky beauty products from nearly 500-plus online stores including Flipkart, Amazon and Jabong, among others.
How is the response so far?
Five months since the launch and we’ve received great responses with nearly 70% of our customers returning. Some users have spent up to 4 hours on the website. So far, our users have recommended 55,000 products from 500 different websites.
Any expansion plans?
We are planning to add men’s products and some more product categories soon. In the future, we plan on monetising by giving smaller brands an opportunity to interact with our community using native ads.
First published on dnaindia.com