The Startup Ecosystem in Mumbai (India) with Pravin Jadhav, Founder & CEO of Wishberg

Pravin Jadhav, the founder and CEO of Wishberg, share’s his experiences and thought’s on Mumbai’s growing startup ecosystem.

Pravin, please introduce yourself…

I am presently the Founder & CEO of Wishberg. Wishberg lets users fulfill every wish they have by turning them in to goals for Life.

We are a small team of product and tech enthusiasts based out of Mumbai, India. The startup was founded by me along with my co-founder Kulin Shah.

At Wishberg, I lead efforts on Product, Marketing, Design and Technology.

Prior to Wishberg, I headed the Product & Marketing function for advertising technology venture – Ohana Media. Before which I was Product Head (Ecommerce & Mobile) at India Limited (NASDAQ:REDF).

I am a Mechnical Engineer from Sardar Patel College of Engineering and completed MBA in Human Resources from SIES College of Management Studies.

How did you get the idea of creating Wishberg?

The idea for Wishberg (was earlier known as Tyche’d) came from a series of conversations around the topic of – future of advertising and how the dynamics of marketings would change if users & marketers knew what they wanted.

We failed in our first iteration and lost 18 months, but the itch for building a global consumer product out of India wasn’t easy to give up.

We went back to drawing board and started building Wishberg when Tyche’d failed. Honestly, we started because we wanted to build a global consumer product out of India.

There were many ideas we had considered but none of them caught our fascination as much as a wishlist did. While many ecommerce sites have their own wish lists, they are unable to capture everything a user could wish for.

On Wishberg, users can create custom wishlists or events based registry and share it with friends and family and have them fulfilled.

How’s traction working out so far?

We have been growing consistently over fast few months with over 450,000 wishes shared. The split between users from India (40%) and rest of the World (60%). At this stage, we are not monetizing and revenue is not our current focus. We will continue to concentrate on growth and engagement.

How do you see the startup ecosystem developing in Mumbai?

Unfortunately when we started two and half years back, the tech scene and overall startup ecosystem in Mumbai was very nascent. There have been some great efforts by many startup entrepreneurs who made efforts to conduct joint forums and discussions over the last year that have got many founders connected.

Mumbai is now getting started to be recognized as a hub for entrepreneurship and have seen many startups coming up in last 12 months.

While Bangalore, New Delhi & NCR have many startups, non-ecommerce and more product focused startups are emerging out of Mumbai.

What are the benefits of being based in Mumbai, over other regions in India?

Well there were none in particular when we started but with the startup ecosystem now developing, future entrepreneurs will definitely benefit in terms of human capital, advice from first gen entrepreneurs and hopefully also angel investments from seasoned entrepreneurs.

Also, many VCs and Individual Angel Investors are based out of Mumbai, it’s easy to approach them to get their perspective and feedback on different aspects. We did that in the intial days which was very helpful for us.

What startups in Mumbai look very promising right now?

Few interesting startups from Mumbai with very promising growth are – JustUnfollow, WebEngage, WizRocket, Instamojo & PriceBaba.

What are the challenges of running a startup in Mumbai?

One of the biggest challenges was finding advice on things like technology, product, design and growth hacking. We don’t have too many people who can provide the right advice – so we had to struggle a lot and learn some of the lessons the hard way.

It costs time and money, but the learnings also give us a new direction and approach to look at things.

This is not just for Mumbai, but across the country. We are just getting started with building products in India.

What advice can you share with entrepreneurs wanting to start or expand their startup in Mumbai?

I typically refrain from giving any advice to entrepreneurs when it comes to starting up. I mostly discourage people from starting up – Startups are very tough and challenging, not all that glamourous as perceived by many.

Don’t do a startup without talking to few entrepreneurs about their journey and knowing what it takes to build one.

Specifically about Mumbai – Finding talent is very difficult in this city. Cost of operations is also too high, start from your garage, take a office space close & convenient to everyone to save time. Most importantly get plugged in to the founder’s circles & Mumbai startup ecosystem – its a great way to connect, learn and grow.

What is the best way to become a part of the local business community?

Well the best way to be a part of any local business community is to help the community and its members.

Share your experiences, make introductions, help others to better their product through active feedback.

Beside life lists, what startup/business opportunities do you see emerging in India right now?

Current opportunities that are hot in India are Vertical or Specialized Ecommerce, Enterprise SaaS products and Payment Gateways.

Those trends will continue this year. Specifically for 2014, I am expecting more consumer products from India, also startups focused on analytics and specialized content (on lines of BuzzFeed, Upworthy, etc).

What’s next for Wishberg?

Our aim is to build Wishberg as the default Wishlist for Life for users and move towards being the default destination for users to share their wishes & experiences.

While we continue to focus and improve Growth and Engagement this year, our efforts will have two central themes when it comes to product development and marketing –

1. Fulfillment of Wishes – we have something exciting lined up that we are expecting to announce by end of January.

2. Intent Graph – building an intent graph specific to a user for everything that he wishes for, including on Wishberg and also outside of Wishberg.

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