Two years ago, software engineers Avlesh Singh, Ankit Utreja and Manish Kashyap were literally struggling to build some small features on the Burrp site (a site listing restaurants and events across Mumbai) to engage visitors and drive content consumption. The trio decided that the concept was big enough to scale up as a separate venture and quit the firm – to form their company and work around that idea.
“Today, WebEngage has evolved into a different tool altogether, but the core concept was to convert those small features into a platform-based service – so that other sites can use it,” said Avlesh Singh, co-founder and CEO of the Mumbai-based startup Webklipper Technologies Pvt Ltd, the company which runs WebEngage and offers online surveys and feedback tools for e-commerce sites, vertical search sites and blogs.
A private beta was launched in May 2011 and the demo application went live in October that year. According to Singh, within six months of the launch, WebEngage has started providing customer feedback and survey support to major OTAs and content companies in India. It also caters to similar companies worldwide.
Currently, the company offers two online solutions for feedback and contextual surveys, which can be integrated with websites. Its key customers include companies like Cleartrip, Future Group, One97 Communications, BuyThePrice, Flora2000, Home Town and Just-Eat Global, among others. WebEngage says that 75 per cent of its total customer base is located overseas, of which the USA forms a big chunk. It has also partnered with ad agencies such as Quasar and WebChutney.
The company has a subscription-based revenue model, along with an option for free trial. The basic package is priced at $15 a month per website, featuring e-mail support and 10 monthly surveys, along with a 250 response limit per survey. The standard one costs $49 per month while there is a premium package for $99 that includes more features as well as higher limits on surveys and responses. Finally, the assisted model is customisable with a dedicated account manager.
When asked about the kind of traction it has generated, Singh says, “For indicative numbers, we have over 1,500 customers worldwide (as on April 20, 2012) out of which 5 per cent are paid customers.”
The company raised angel funding in June 2011 from the Indian Angel Network, led by Google India chief Rajan Anandan in his personal capacity. “Although the company is pretty stable in terms of revenues, we have started looking for a seed round to drive growth in overseas markets,” says Singh when asked about the next round of fundraising.
Finding investment for early-stage companies is still an uphill task in India but Singh feels that they have most of the things in place – in terms of product, team, a sizeable market and prior experience. So fundraising might not be as difficult as it could have been.
Gaining Customer Loyalty Not Easy
“I feel that the whole e-commerce space has just two major issues – customer retention and low conversion rates,” notes Singh. And the reason is quite obvious – today, consumers are spoilt for choices. “Each company is trying to outbid others in terms of discounts and offers. While it works as a short-term approach, unfortunately, it doesn’t change a customer’s loyalty,” he adds.
Then again, declining conversion rates for the ad spends happen to be a major issue that plagues the entire Internet fraternity, especially the e-commerce ventures. “I know a lot of companies who fail to justify their ad campaigns when it comes to economics,” he points out. “However, consumer is the king. I only wish one could read his mind.”
New On The Platter
The startup will soon launch a slew of features and right now, a third product called ‘Notifications’ is on the cards. This will be a plug-and-play platform for companies to drive engagement by displaying relevant messages to visitors in a targeted manner.
The next in order is the mobile platform. “We are bullish on mobile and will soon release Version I of our mobile offering. It will enable mobile sites and applications to collect feedback and pop surveys/notifications to their users,” says Singh.
Something is coming up for designers as well. WebEngage will soon come out with a theme gallery as a marketplace where designers and developers can use APIs to build custom themes. Finally, the integration of WebEngage with all major platforms will be coming soon and Facebook integration with fan pages of brands/companies will be a part of this exercise.
However, there is enough competition in this space that might make the going tough for the startup. WebEngage competes with companies like SurveyMonkey and KISSinsights for its survey solution and GetSatisfaction, UserVoice and OpinionLabs for its customer feedback product.
“All you can do is build a great product and offer great experience. Leave the rest to your clients and let them decide,” signs off Singh.