Is it possible to turn a singular observation into a brilliant idea? Parin Sanghvi of Reelo may have a thing or two to say about that.
“I always wanted to live the American Dream. When I finally got a chance to visit Boston, I grabbed it. I happened to visit Starbucks for the first time while I was there – and instantly became a fan of their personalized customer experience.” Parin reminisces, “It made me think of my father’s retail business back home, and how it had barely changed in the past decade.” He goes on to tell us how a lot of traditional businesses, including that of his father’s, rely on frequent customers to keep themselves running, and how Reelo is dramatically re-defining the customer experience and relationship, especially for small and medium businesses.
Parin’s zest for innovation began during school, where he first developed a penchant for unconventional problem solving which further seasoned during his design school. “Creating made me feel powerful,” he says. This passion for creativity later led him to design Pocketlite, a solar-powered pocket torchlight, which was picked by a French company for mass manufacture as a cost-effective product for third-world countries. They want to make technology available for all and the desire to give back to the community-led him and his brother Prit to lay down the foundation for Reelo.
Parin & Prit believe in availing smaller businesses, the same growth opportunities that big businesses utilize, and that SMBs shouldn’t have to miss out on customers just because they don’t have better access to technology. With that sense of purpose, they started Reelo, quite literally from their own bedroom.
One of the first moments that made them realize that Reelo was making an impact was when one of their early customers, who they had to visit to collect payment every month, made a payment for the entire year, after he saw a significant increase in his business through Reelo’s automated customer journey engagement.
One of the biggest challenges they faced in the initial stages was educating business owners and showing them the importance of data-driven marketing technology for their business. Prit and Parin single-handedly acquired the first 70-80 customers in Ahmedabad, and looked after everything from sales, client servicing, marketing, designing, building the product, delivering marketing materials and training the staff – all by themselves.
While contemplating why it took them longer to get where they are, Parin tells how they didn’t coalesce to any sort of startup support to begin with, and did everything on their own. Parin admits of thinking of giving up on Reelo more than once, and says, “At times, the urge to give up on Reelo was strong, but the thought of why we started it in the first place was stronger.”
However, getting incubated at GUSEC and being around other startups eased them into the startup ecosystem and gave them a sense of community. “As an entrepreneur, you’re bound to get lonelier than often. But being around people with similar goals in mind makes you feel like you’re not on your own.”
Reelo is currently working with over 1800 businesses and has engaged over 3M users in 30 cities, processing over $350M gross transactions. They’ve also generated 2 lakh additional visits and $4.5M incremental revenue for their partners.
Parin says that while on the way to establishing your own startup, one should get used to failures and setbacks. “You have to understand that it’s just a setback, not the end of the world”. As parting advice for young minds and budding entrepreneurs, he only has one thing to say – “even on days you cannot find any inspiration, learn to fight another day, another week, another month.”
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