Tycoons in the Making: Pennyindia.com
Abhipsa Nayak | Apr 11, 2016
Entrepreneurship is not everyone’s cup of tea. A few people have the guts to explore and venture into uncharted territories. Two people have forayed into this realm through their start-up. MM meets up with Abhijeet Sahoo, a first year student of Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the co-founder of Pennyindia.com.
MM: What is Pennyindia.com all about?
AS: “Pennyindia.com” is a cashback site that offers the highest cashback to the users when they shop from sites like Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm, Dominos, LimeRoad and 100+ sites. It has got a lot of cool features like auto-withdrawal, students referral, etc. We are planning to give some percentage of the profit to the orphanage and underprivileged children. It is the first and the only cashback site in Odisha designed and operated by first year students of NIT Rourkela. Moreover, this is the youngest start-up in NIT Rourkela as well as in the state.
MM: How did the idea of the start-up strike your mind?
AS: It was in class 11 when Sarada Prasad Sahoo got exposure to the internet. At that time, he had the passion to be an ethical hacker and for starting something of his own. But at that time, he had no opportunity to start up something. In B. Tech first year, he thought of building a cashback site thus, “Pennyindia.com” came into existence. And for that, he needed a co-founder who could support him to overcome the obstacles. I was interested in entrepreneurship and start-ups. So, when he approached me it was a golden opportunity for me to be a part of a start-up thus we started working together to bring an online revolution in the state by giving cashback and educating others about ecommerce.
MM: For how many years you have been working on this start-up? How has been your overall experience?
AS: Since the last two years, my co-founder was working at a small-pace. And the full fledged work started in our dormitory since the last 6 months.
It was a mixture of black and white. Sometimes it was really fun and interesting and sometimes we got frustrated when there will be an error after long hours of writing codes.
MM: What challenges did you face in your initial days?
AS: Making partnerships with different e-commerce firms was the biggest challenge for us and we successfully tackled it and at present, we have partnered with 100+ sites. And also we faced a lot of difficulty for advertisement and all.
The second difficulty that we faced was time management; it was quite difficult for us to manage studies and the website side-by-side.
MM: Being in your first year, how do you plan to manage academics as well as your start-up?
AS: It is in fact quite difficult to manage academics and our start-up simultaneously. And now we also have to miss some classes for this. We are presently utilizing our holidays and Saturdays and Sundays for our start-up which we were previously wasting by watching movies. And daily we have planned to work for 5-6 hours for our start-up. We hope that in the future, all goes well.
MM: How did you find the venture capitalists and what kind of support are you getting from them?
AS: Till now we have not approached any venture capitalists or angel investors. We have planned to approach them this summer.
MM: You are just in your first year. What motivated you to pursue Entrepreneurship?
AS: We just wanted to be the captains of our own fate, master of our own souls, boss of our own dreams and the king of our own goals. Moreover, our burning desire to have the youngest start-up in the institute as well as in the state motivated us a lot and made us overcome all the hurdles and take this great step.
MM: How is PennyIndia.com different from other cashback start-ups?
AS: Pennyindia.com is different in the following ways: -
We provide 100% free registration and no minimum first time withdrawal.
We are the first and the only cash-back site to have the feature of auto-withdrawal (when the cashback of the user gets confirmed, we will send it to their withdrawal method automatically).
We have planned to include referral and student programs.
We support other e-commerce based start-ups.
We donate to orphanages and under-privileged children.
Above all, we provide the highest cashback in the industry.
MM: What is the current status of your start-up in terms of publicity, marketing and recruitment?
AS: 10 days ago, we had released our first ad on “What Pennyindia.com is and how it works?” And presently, since our site launched on March 7th, 2016, Facebook, WhatsApp and friends helped us in publicity. Within 20 days of our pilot basis launch, we had 102 registered users with 28 sales.
Here is the link of the video:
And coming to recruitment, we have planned to recruit students of NIT Rourkela just after vacation as content writers, designers, and techies.
MM: What kind of support do you expect from NIT Rourkela?
AS: Of course we have lot of expectations from NIT. We hope to get the support of TIIR, professors and students. Since we are planning to register Pennyindia.com as a start-up according to Start-up India Initiative, we hope that we will get help from our Director and Professors. I also expect support from Entrepreneurship Cell, NIT Rourkela in terms of publicity and providing a platform for us to interact with the angel investors and incubators.
And primarily, if our own institute supports us then we will surely attain our goals very early.
MM: What is your vision and mission 5 years from now?
AS: Our vision is to bring a complete online revolution first in Odisha then in India by 2020. Unlike other e-commerce sites, our mission is also to conquer India’s service sector e-market.
MM: What message do you want to give to the readers?
AS: Follow, believe and build your own dreams. Think big and sacrifice your today for a better tomorrow.