How Annkur P Agarwal From PriceBaba Went From Selling Tea And Coffee On A Train To Founding A Startup
Annkur P Agarwal recently contacted us about a new project he’s working on – PriceBaba, a location-based search engine which helps shoppers search for the best offline prices in their immediate, physical area. Time out! Wait so… You mean like… shop for stuff in offline stores by going to an online website? Yep!
Honestly a bit puzzled by this concept at first, I decided that I needed to get the inside scoop on this strange and potentially innovative idea so I talked to Annkur about PriceBaba, coffee, and burning boats.
KillerStartups: Sounds like you have something really exciting going on, Annkur, and we’d love to hear more about it. We want to share the PEOPLE side of running a small business, and I’d love to hear more about you and your co-founder, but first, tell me more about PriceBaba.
Annkur P Agarwal: I appreciate the fact that you rate people over ideas. I started as an online retailer in 2002, (I was 15 back then). Baazee.com (now ebay.in) was advertising on television and I got started after looking at that. As I graduated from college, over the next 5 years I continued doing online / offline retail. By some accident, I got started writing about technology in 2007 and OnlyGizmos.com was formed. In a couple of years, I moved full-time into the publishing business, wrote about technology, did events for gadget lovers and connected into the unconference ecosystem in India (Headstart’s Startup Saturday, Barcamps, Blogcamps etc).
What’s with the name PriceBaba?
Well, after giving up retail sometime around 2009, I continued to get dozens of call every month from friends or old customers who wanted to buy a cellphone. They wanted me to be involved in the purchase process, either by calling up the store they are visiting and asking them to give a good price, or just affirming that what they are buying is a good phone and help them find a good bargain. This exercise made me feel like a ‘baba‘. After some searching, I named the venture PriceBaba.
How many people are on your team?
I started with one co-founder whom I met during a random train journey, he (Tirthesh Ganatra) leads the development. As of now, there are two co-founders and one additional team member who has a long offline retail experience. We are just starting to run now :)
This video shows when I first met Tirthesh, it was during a 24 hours long train journey. It was a non AC, sleeper class train. We actually tried selling tea & coffee in the train. Most of it is in Hindi, but it is should still be fun for your viewers.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
Cycling, Badminton, Biking and Tea!
Highly inspired by Steve Jobs, his search for excellence & lessons on focus in particular. And I do believe in the reality distortion field.
And the quote that has stuck with me since childhood ‘If what you are = what you have and what you have is lost. Then who are you?”
How did you fund PriceBaba?
By using up all spare cash in hand, selling gadgets :(, initial borrowing from friends & family and knocking on every door that owes us even a dollar. Luckily the previous business OnlyGizmos.com still has some cashflow that pays for our rent.
Speaking of rent, we have rented a small space within another company and manage our operations from there.
Biggest Mistake in your Startup Life?
Didn’t hire great people. Did a lot of work myself & relied on lots of freelancers. The value of building a good team is clearer than ever before.
Do you consider yourself successful now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Success is a very relative term Dawn. It is like answering the question: what’s your number (in wall street)? The answer is always ‘more’.
What would make us feel successful? Honestly, I don’t know. If I put any number to it (which only exists in our slides to VCs), it would limit what we aim for.
The best suggestion I ever got in my life is to burn my boats. So we prepare only to win, enjoy the day to day challenges, believe in the journey and work towards making an impact.
Wait a minute… burn your boats? Is that like burning bridges?
Yes burn your boats is like burn your bridges. Guess we have a different version of the story going around in India :)
Web app or site you can’t live without?
Google Maps. I am bad with roads. And how can I forget Gmail web!
Mobile app you’re in love with?
Instagram. Allow me to add another one – Dropbox.
Dogs or cats?
iOS or Android?
iOS to use, Android to sell (we are in India :))
Anything else we should know about what makes you and your company so special?
We are working in an environment where offline retailers have no systems and no computerized billing and we want them to compete with the online stores using the digital medium. We believe that’s a challenge worth taking up and we are at it.
For more information on boat burning and PriceBaba, contact Annkur and Tirthesh: