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College Is the Best Time to Start Up, Says Gaurav Dahake

A dynamic product and price discovery platform, BuyHatke was one of the early winners of the TATA First Dot Powered by NEN Awards in 2012. The company has since grown to become a leading player in India's e-commerce landscape. Founder and CEO Gaurav Dahake shares his experiences

How did you come up with your idea and what served as the inspiration for founding BuyHatke?

We started in 2012, when Prashant Singh, the CTO and co-founder, and I were looking to buy an iPod touch. This was when we were in IIT Kharagpur so we couldn’t find any store to buy it from, and the only choice was to order it online. After about 3 hours of rummaging through various portals for the cheapest price available, we bought it from a portal which we thought was offering the best price. Later on, we found out that there was a better deal available on a different portal. That’s when we realized that this is a problem a lot of people face every day, and that was how BuyHatke came into being.

In spite of a lot of similar startups coming up, BuyHatke has managed to quickly establish traction. What do you think have been the key factors that have enabled this?

The main difference between us and the other competitors was the rate at which we were innovating. We also ensured that our span of scaling was horizontal, thereby covering a lot of categories of products before anyone else could. Our comparison search was much better than the competition and coupled with the browser extensions that we developed, it gave us an added advantage. Another factor was the media coverage we received from most of the major media networks. This, along with word of mouth, helped us a lot in publicizing BuyHatke.

In 2012 your startup made it to the top five student startups of India. What’s the big difference between now and then?

At that point of time, our daily traffic was close to 4000 hits/ day which is about 100,000hits/ month. Now, we generate about 15 times the previous traffic, which is 1.5 million hits/ month, and we generate about $2.5 billion on our partners’ portals.

Starting up is a hard task, and doing so while being a student makes it all the more challenging. How did you cope?

I personally think college is the best time to startup. One of the advantages is the likelihood of meeting a compatible co-founder in the institute. I feel it’s easier to start working with some who you have known for such a period of time, as it ensures that you trust each other. The bond which ensues is really strong.

The resources we had access to, from the institute’s end, were also really helpful. Also, the college acts as a closed network, where you can test your ideas, and get a realistic feedback about the consumer’s reaction. It provides an amazing platform to learn, implement, and scale.

What do you believe are the key requirements today for student entrepreneurs to succeed? What should students keep in mind, and how can India’s startup ecosystem help?

Innovate faster than the market. You need to be on your toes, and ensure that you extend the market’s boundaries wherever possible. Innovation is the key.

Never lose hope. You might go through some tough times, where you feel like the idea has no future. Persevere, and tackle the problems one day at a time. Maintain a die-hard attitude, and you will surely find your light at the end of the tunnel.

About NEN

The National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) is Wadhwani Foundation’s flagship initiative in India. It was established in 2003 with a mission to inspire, educate and support high potential entrepreneurs to create millions of high-value jobs.

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