We all love to shop. Thinking about ways to shop faster, better and more economically is something that would’ve crossed all our minds at one point or another. Unfortunately, finding the best place to shop becomes a grave task, especially with tons of options around. It’s almost as if something’s missing that could make our shopping experience a whole lot better, something that conveniently provides us with exactly the information we are looking for. Our Shopping experience could be augmented with the right knowledge of the best brands and their offers at our fingertips.
HaloBee gives you just that! A one-stop destination for those looking for the perfect Brands having the best Offers in their favourite Shopping Malls. With HaloBee, shopping at a mall will never be the same! An amazing shopping experience is just a click away. HaloBee is receiving widespread adoption with more than a million impressions already. HaloBee has captured all the top Malls across Delhi NCR and is listing more than 1500 Brands currently. It’s a Startup India certified and FB Start recognized venture.
HaloBee is the brainchild of two IIT (BHU) graduates, Mr. Prabhav Srivastava and Mr. Avinash Gupta. Techies at heart, friends since college and recipients of the prestigious “Honourable Mention” from IIT, they had always been passionate about technology and how it is transforming lives. Let’s hear more from the brilliant minds that have made HaloBee India’s first platform for Shopping Malls.
1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
We call ourselves HaloBee. Our vision is to connect the Physical Surrounding to the Digital World. Just like the Godly figures are shown having Halos (or Auras) around them, we aim to create Digital Halos for all. These digital Halos will eventually create a truly connected world. And for the “Bee”, well it just adds a buzz to the name, pun intended.
2.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
How many time have you gone to a Mall and wondered – “Which stores have Ethnic Wear here?” or “Is my favourite brand here and where is it?”. HaloBee helps more than a million such annoyed customers in discovering the right products, brands and offers around them. HaloBee is India’s first such platform for Shopping Malls. HaloBee also helps Brands in Malls reach out to highly relevant mall going customers by increasing discoverability of products and offers.
3.Who is your target Audience/clients?
Our target is to reach out to 20 million urban offline shoppers of India.
4.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
We are based out of New Delhi, India and are currently serving 5 cities in Delhi NCR. We plan to expand to all metro cities in the next quarter.
5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
Me and Avinash are techies at heart. During our brief stint at ZS Associates and Oracle respectively, we used to meet every weekend and discuss whats going on in the tech world and if we can contribute in some way. After trying our hands around Energy Monitoring Systems, Proximity Interaction App, Bluetooth Beacons and Retail Analytics, we realized that the retail industry is evolving very fast and we need to find our role in this transformation. But what problem should we solve that nobody is solving? One day when we were searching for a laptop bag inside a mall, we couldn’t figure out which stores should we go to among the 400 stores inside. It took 7 Google Searches and 30 minutes of roaming around to get this information. It is easier to find which restaurant serves Crab in Delhi than it is to find which stores have Bags in a mall. At that very moment, we knew we had it.
6.Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
There is no direct competition but competitors in similar listing fields include Zomato, Nearbuy, Justdial, PayTM Malls, Google Maps. Our biggest differentiator is the amazing User Experience in terms of the information we give, ease of discovering the right product, brand and offer, and the relevance factor between Brands and Users that our strong algorithms build. Another big differentiator is the active engagement with Malls and Brands, something that has never been done before in the Retail Industry. The fact that brands themselves update their profiles and offers, makes our business model sustainable and trustable. Our USP is the effective store segmentation we do by floor, category, budget and relevance for the user. Our objective is to create a perfect User Experience and quick discovery of what the consumer is looking for.
7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s
From batch mates to roommates to co convenors of college festival to flat mates to co founders, Avinash has been a friend since the days at IIT (BHU). Our active involvement in the Robotics Club, Social Outreach Club, College Festival made us realize that we are a very strong team on all fronts. So if at all there had to be a startup, the question of identifying the right Co Founder was never there. Avinash has all the skills to be the leader of a Tech Company – Methodical Approach, Analytical Aptitude, Structured Thinking and a flair for advanced technologies. He has a foresightedness to choose the tougher way for greater good. Time and again, he has proved how technology can transform not only the way we build products, but also the way we do Sales and Marketing.
8.How did you hired your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
We were always very cautious about whom we hire. It takes multiple resume scrutiny, telephonic conversations and interviews for us to find the right candidate, be it any role. The fruits of the efforts are showing now, when we have a strong 7 member team. In a short span of six months since we hired our first employee, we have become a family with a mission. The skills that we look for are, desire to learn and team spirit. And yes, if you are crazy about brands, that is a bonus.
9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
We plan to add 100 malls across the country in our kitty very soon. We plan to become a global brand for offline discovery in the next 5 years.
10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
We see HaloBee as becoming synonymous to shopping in brick and mortar stores with our wide range of services covering all aspects of shopping.
11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
Our immediate goal is to capture the mall going people of Delhi NCR. We want to become the face of brands in malls.
12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
We have raised a small seed fund from an Angel Investor and an Accelerator based out of Silicon Valley. Now with a firm footing in Delhi NCR, we are planning to raise another round to scale and take things to the next level.
13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
The biggest problem we faced was in finding the right Product-Market fit. It took us a while to realize that technology is not business, rather technology is just an enabler to enhance business. With all due respect to product developers and researchers, the easiest thing one can do is to build a product, however technology intensive it might be. We were making the same mistake when we were building product after product and complaining that the market is immature. We realized that the Market is the king and we need to make the product as per the market, rather than the other way round. That was our biggest learning and with a clearer approach, we were able to make the right product which the market has accepted overwhelmingly.
14.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Prabhav: My hobbies are watching movies, blogging and travelling. I read books and articles
Avinash: I enjoy reading tech blogs, travelling and watching short films.
15.Whats your favorite food & holiday destination?
Prabhav: I enjoy Italian food. Leh Ladakh has been my favourite holiday so far, would love to go on a Europe Tour someday.
Avinash: I love North Indian food – ever ready for the street foods. I want to explore Norway for the beautiful northern lights.
16.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
Prabhav: Different people motivate me in different aspects of life. My dad has been my biggest motivator. Being a scientist himself, he instilled in me a scientific aptitude and curiosity since early childhood. I doubt he would have been equally motivating, had he know that I would eventually become an atheist 😛
I would consider Alan Turing as my idol, to whom I got introduced when I was fascinated by computational mathematics in college. His persistence towards uncovering mathematical patterns in nature and his strong belief in scientific thinking has always been an inspiration.
Avinash: My father, being a business man himself, has always motivated me a lot. His struggle from being a farmer’s son in a village to establishing his own business has been quite a journey. I learnt from him the efforts it takes to manage your own firm. The patience he keeps during times of family and business problems teaches a lot.
17.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Prabhav: I believe that you do not need to open your company to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurialism is a lifestyle not a job. Hence the question should be framed as difference between entrepreneurs and those who are afraid to seize opportunities. I think you got it.
Avinash: The responsibility that comes with being an entreprenuer is something which people who don’t take it on their own do not experience. You have to think about everyone involved with you, be it your colleagues or team. The thrill to take up the responsibility of successes and failures on you.
18.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Avinash: My career has been a decent journey so far. I would not want to do anything differently rather take the career ahead where I want it to be.
19.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
Prabhav: My family has been very supportive of my decision. When I discussed the idea of quitting my job and starting HaloBee, with my parents, my dad said that the purpose of raising us in a stable and safe atmosphere is fulfilled because I can dare to take the risks he could not.
If I tell you that my social life has not been hampered, my girlfriend would kill me when she reads this 😛 Travelling and Partying have received a setback but somehow the passion for what we are doing, makes up for everything.
Avinash: Everthing comes at a cost. Being an entreprenuer has definitely affected my social life, but I tend to prioritize more now and give time to people who matter the most. Travelling is something I miss. Spending more time on work and lesser time with family has become a usual thing, but having a supportive family takes care of it.
20.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Prabhav: One piece of advice that I want to share is to keep your calm in all situations. This involves being neither too hopeful when you crack a big deal, nor too sad when you miss a big investment. Entrepreneurship is not a relay race, its a marathon. Be focused and Run, everything else will follow.
Avinash: Entreprenuership is not a decision, it would become your life. So, think wisely and then take up a decision because it at the end of the day, you have to be self-motivated. But I assure you, once you start this journey with passion, you won’t regret it. Just stay motivated and keep working harder.
21.Tell us something about your education & family background.
Prabhav: My dad is a scientist and my mom is a counsellor, my sister is pursuing MBBS. I did my schooling partly at Lucknow’s St. Francis College and partly at Bhopal’s Campion School. I graduated from IIT (BHU) in 2015. Growing up in an environment where I was taught to question everything, has made me a rational thinker.
Avinash: I hail from a small town Pilkhuwa in Uttar Pradesh and has completed most of the schooling from St. Xavier’s here. I used to travel from my hometown to pursue IIT JEE coaching from Delhi and 10+2 schooling from Ghaziabad. Efforts payed off, as I graduated from IIT (BHU) Varanasi as an Electronics Engineer in 2015.
My father is a business man. I’ve spent considerable time with my father to understand his business. My mother is a house wife and has instilled in me family values.
- What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
Prabhav: With the limited experience that I have had, I do not find any threats that a startup faces today. Challenges, yes. Atleast in the industry we are in, there could be no better time to start your own venture than today.
Avinash: I feel early advices to young entreprenuers is something that’s missing from startup culture in India. This is how they end up in poor planning and missing out on very important things that leads sometimes to their failures.
- Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
We are far from being successful. Yet, HaloBee has had its own share of small successes and we will continue to do more. I believe the correct way to measure success is by valuating how much value you have added in people’s lives. The day we become an integral part of the lives of people and/or businesses, important enough to matter, that would be true success.