Rohit Shukla did his M.Tech from IIT Mumbai and EPBM from IIM Kolkata. He has gained vast experience in IT by working for companies like Wipro Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services, LexisNexis, and Fidelity Investments.
While doing the interior designing of his apartment, Rohit needed a specific service but was not able to find any shop locally. However, few days later, while roaming casually in the market, he found few shops, which provided that service. He became inspired by this problem and founded UrbanHub, a hyper-local discovery engine for searching brick and Mortar businesses.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
UrbanHub is a hyper-local discovery engine for searching brick and Mortar businesses.
- Consumers can discover businesses around them, or in a particular locality. They can find deals, events, offers from businesses. New promotions, launches, etc, can also be discovered via this app.
- Consumers can follow a brand or outlet and get notified on the deals.
- We plan to cover 100 % of businesses in Malls and markets or standalone, so that consumers will be able to find stores irrespective of whether they have a tie up with us or not.
For businesses it offers a way to communicate with their most qualified consumers in real time basis, replacing fliers and pamphlets.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
While doing interior for my apartment in Gurgaon, we had the need for a specific kind of laser cut shop. The shop could not be located anywhere in Gurgaon, and hence we had to get that stuff ordered from Delhi. Later while moving in a Market in Gurgaon, we found 2-3 shops specifically offering that kind of product. Similar issues were faced by my other friends, in discovering shops, ladies nights, happy hours or a restaurant offering live band on a particular night.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
The most challenging part in this journey had been creating a communication which clearly brings out the differentiator we are offering. This was on communication to retail shop owners, venture capitalist, media and our consumers. We had to refine and refine it multiple times till we got one consistent message across all touch points of UrbanHub.
How did you overcome those challenges?
The challenge of communication was overcome by us in multiple ways. First we reached out to lots of consumers, shop owners of different categories and one on one communication with VC and media people, to explain our product, The questions ranging from how we are different than JustDial to Google to the latest new startup in Bangalore came up. We then refined our pitch catering to those queries.
For consumers, we analyzed the usage patterns, identified the areas which were not being used, and then redesigned our User Interface to bring the most important features on the home screen.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
Ours is not a cash efficient model and we have invested lots of thoughts in building systems and process that focuses on do once and repeat benefit forever. So till now we have not needed any investment from outside, though we have commitment from individuals in case we need some.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We have faced this issue in the form of people promising to join and then dropping at the last stage. Years of experience in corporate has provide us with some insights and we usually keep a close tap on a person joining and have regular communications with them, to avoid any last minute surprise. Usually an open communication channel will raise any red flags in timely manner
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
- A “can do” attitude. In a start-up this means not all the inputs are available for job, still a workaround or solution need to be found to keep making progress.
- Focus on how I can contribute rather than thinking what the other person is doing
- Letting your hair down – this helps in better connect with people around, and also clears the mind when one gets back to work.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
We use Trello for our Operations planning. Slack is the default communication channel. Apart from that Google for Business, mailchimp, LinkedIn are other apps for keeping us productive. I also use Powerpoint a lot. In fact most of the images you see on our site or app are developed on MS power-point.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Habit of believing in people’s capability, so that I can focus on other tasks to ensure we do not miss the forest for the Trees.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
I wish I was an early riser, and think if I could start my day by 7/7:30 a.m. then a lot time would be available for meetings during the day.
Answer in less than 50 words
Team work and keeping the team aligned to one goal.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Believing that one individual can do everything. In the end no one is indispensable, including the founder.
- One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
Business consist of things that are under our control and those which are not. One must not let anything slip that is in one’s control, since you can’t do much about things that are not in your control.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
For UrbanHub to be the most diverse and relevant hyperlocal search engine across India and presence in Middle East and South East Asia.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
I love places with either history or natural beauty. So my top Getaways are: – Goa – Krabi Islands in Thailand – London