Quikr is an online classifieds company based in Mumbai, India.
Looking back at the Internet technology business, one cannot miss out the story of how Opera browser became an independent company.Two software engineers, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy were researchers who were building a browser at Telenor. They soon realised that Telenor itself is not interested in the technology they were developing. So they bought the technology back from Telenor and build a company to develop Opera into a full-fledged Internet browser. Today, Opera is a major browser in the embedded market.
The story of Quikr, the Indian online classifieds platform for local business is somewhat similar but unique in that the parent kept the umbilical chord intact yet allowed it to thrive in the outside world.
Pranay Chulet has been a Principal with Booz Allen Hamilton in its media practice in 2005 at New York. An IIT Delhi and IIM Calcutta alumni, Pranay watched how media companies were increasingly threatened by an Internet upstart called Craigslist. In fact, he saw many media businesses folding up due to Craigslist’s simple format. Being in media practice, Pranay was the go to person for media companies to come up with strategies to counter Craigslist. So he saw this and soon was thinking: Can this model be replicated elsewhere, say, in India?
Pranay was not your typical consultant. He had been an entrepreneur. He had earlier started a studio called Zobyx which developed a new platform to make Interactive Movies, which would be a cross between a feature film and an immersive game. Zobyx’s technology resulted in the production of Latent Lava, a film that can also be played like a video game – it was the first film of its kind across the globe. He had also been involved with the development of early stage internet ventures at Walker Digital, the incubator that was funded by heavy duty private equity investors like General Atlantic Partners and that gave birth to Priceline. Watching the evolution of media sector in the US, and particularly the rise of the internet, Pranay was increasingly getting interested in building a company that cut across internet and mobile media in India. He started talking to friends in the investment world and bouncing a few ideas off them. He had not forgotten his earlier thought about building a craigslist type company in India.
By a curious coincidence, eBay in India had a classifieds business, Kijiji, and eBay was open to letting the business grow as an independent venture. The business had been growing organically without too much marketing spend and Pranay found it to be a platform superbly suited for mass market India. In 2008, Kijiji became Quikr and Pranay moved to India with the aim of building a large company around it. Today, Quikr has become a huge force in the Indian internet market and has attracted some of the best investors across 4 rounds of funding.
In addition to its stupendous success on the internet, the company is also a leader in the mobile space. The top mobile device companies in the country have pre-burnt Quikr’s classifieds app on their phones and the company enjoys a multi-million user base on its mobile site as well.
Quikr’s revenue stream is largely advertising based, and includes both text and display ads. In other words, the platform does not pick up a share in the transactions or retain any other form of fees. It is known as Craigslist of India. It is backed by Matrix Partners India, Omidyar Network, Norwest Venture Partners and invested in by eBay Inc.