Even before the pandemic hit India, one of the largest economic hubs in Asia, e-commerce touched every sector and type of consumer. But during the catastrophic situation caused by COVID-19, the governments were forced to shut down commerce and transport almost instantly. As a consequence, Flipkart, Amazon, and some other e-commerce players rose to the challenge to meet the expectations of people and businesses.
During this e-commerce boom, the e-commerce sector identified, faced, and solved a few challenges but doing it singlehandedly became increasingly difficult. This gave Chirag Taneja, a serial entrepreneur and corporate marketing expert, an idea to start GoKwik to improve the current scenario of the Direct-to-customer e-commerce space. Taneja was joined by Ankush Talwar and Vivek Bajpai in co-founding GoKwik in the middle of the pandemic.
“With an aim to democratise D2C shopping and help the merchants attain maximum GMV realization, I then founded GoKwik in the middle of the pandemic.”- Chirag Taneja, CEO of GoKwik.
GoKwik has succeeded in raising $55.5 since inception from VCs like Matrix Partners India, Sequoia Capital India, and Think Investments. Let’s take a look at GoKwik’s journey to determine its success and future.
The world of e-commerce has transformed and improved a lot owing to the cutting-edge technologies being introduced around the world. Machine learning and artificial intelligence have become essential tools for the enhancement of the e-commerce space in recent years. With an e-commerce enabler like GoKwik, D2C and e-commerce brands can gain Return to Origin (RTO) and increase their conversion rates while ensuring that the gross merchandise value increases.
The story of GoKwik’s origin starts with Chirag Taneja who is one of the three co-founders of the start-up. Currently the CEO of his company, Taneja is an FMS and DCE Alumni who finished his MBA in Management of Services in 2009. For a summer internship, Taneja worked at the ICICI bank for almost two months before getting his first job as an Analyst at Inductis.
Taneja always liked defining and solving problems in his professional life whether it was Placement Secretary at FMS, as an associate or even as an Assistant VP in Yes Bank. After spending quite a few years switching jobs, Taneja wanted to pursue his own creative convictions by becoming an entrepreneur. In 2015, Taneja started Ketchupp, an A.I-based platform that interestingly solved the “what to eat” query. Ketchupp’s uniqueness resulted in a global scale expansion.
“GoKwik is a data science first company. As an e-Commerce enabler, it aspires to unlock value from data, technology, and AI to improve conversion, reduce RTO risk, target the best customers, and increase GMV. It is also one of the first brands on a mission to solve these common but majorly impacting challenges D2C e-Commerce brands face.” according to Chirag Taneja, CEO of GoKwik.
Ketchupp was used as a smart and reliable search engine equipped with smart AI interventions. Taneja became the first start-up owner whose idea had a lasting impact on food analytics and the way it can be used to map consumer food behaviour. Taneja was also associated with the Bombay Shaving Company for over a year as its chief revenue officer which inspired him for his second entrepreneurial stint.
CEO of GoKwik says, “I incorporate a merchant-first philosophy into GoKwik and am constantly working on ways to further democratize the shopping experience and change the face of the D2C e-commerce industry. I have differentiated GoKwik by incorporating AI/ML-enabled custom algorithms tailor-made for each merchant helping them boost conversions along with 100% RTO protection.”
As the CRO of an Indian company known as one of the largest premium men’s grooming brands in India, Taneja ran Bombay Shaving Company’s online commerce business efficiently. While working in this company, Taneja gained a deep insight into the D2C e-commerce market and all of the complexities that participants of this market face daily. Taneja aimed to solve the issues that inhibit growth within this market.
But Taneja needed technical assistance and guidance to be able to create a platform that existed in his mind. That is when the CEO of GoKwik came across Ankush Talwar, an expert in AI, Analytics, and Machine Learning. Talwar worked at American Express, Payback, Flipkart, Ogilvy, Publicis, Quantiphi, and Kognoz Research & Consulting in different roles. Throughout his professional life, Talwar excelled at solving organisational problems and developing solutions with AI.
When Talwar and Taneja discussed GoKwik’s early model, Talwar was sold by the idea of improving D2C e-commerce with an AI-based platform that offers buyers an efficient experience. But both Taneja and Talwar required someone with technical expertise to run the GoKwik platform. They reached out to Vivek Bajpai, an experienced software engineer who worked as the head of the technology in SilverPush for 8 years.
“Our growth trajectory has been remarkable in the last year, and we have been looking for someone to join our leadership team to match our increasing scale and drive product excellence. Product innovation is one of our key strategic pillars as we are changing the way people experience shopping end to end. Kunal will be a huge asset to us as we move forward in this journey of building products that complement the remarkable work D2C e-commerce brands do," said Chirag Taneja, CEO of GoKwik.
With Bajpai’s technical expertise, Talwar’s skills in Data Science, and Taneja’s marketing excellence, the trio was able to launch GoKwik in 2020. The online platform of GoKwik was made to solve problems that D2C and e-commerce brands usually face during the conversion stage of the shopping funnel. The main problem is “Return to Origin”, GoKwik founders intended to create a seamless shopping experience throughout the funnel.
Part of the strategy was to launch it as a remote-first company during the pandemic situation. Taneja made sure to include the merchant-first philosophy in GoKwik so that he can realize his dream of democratising the e-commerce space for good. To achieve this, GoKwik founders incorporated AI/ML-enabled custom algorithms to tailor-made solutions for each merchant.
"Today, millions of customers are embracing thousands of D2C brands and this market is poised to be a $100- billion opportunity by 2025. GoKwik, with its product suite and crystal clear vision, is well-positioned to take the industry forward and democratise this opportunity for the D2C brands. This is an interesting challenge and opportunity to blend data, tech, and science solutions from two completely different product stacks: fintech and e-commerce," said Kunal Tiwari, newly-appointed CPO of GoKwik.
The company eventually faced several challenges in its run that ranged from being launched in the pandemic situation and then a few data-driven issues. But as GoKwik’s team expanded, the start-up ensured the availability of valid data and took all other challenges head-on to finally land where it is now. In 2021 alone, GoKwik grew 100x despite the hurdles in its way and within 17 months of being active, a total of 250 brands trust its services.
The main concern for GoKwik is enabling its customers to boost their conversion rate and secure 100% of their Return to Origin (RTO). These unique objectives required a perfect mix of cutting edge technology solutions, i.e. AI and ML algorithms. Through AI/ML, GoKwik can create a unique product to solve all sorts of problems faced by a customer. Their easy checkout and UPI option are helping with conversion rates and GMV.
GoKwik works by collaborating with new merchants and unites their unique data with the platform’s network data. Through this combination, a rich customer profile is created to further the deep learning models. The main difference between GoKwik and its competitors as a data science first company is the effective combination of technology, user experience, and also personalisation that they offer to each of their clientele.
GoKwik is available in the following formats for the convenience of clients;
The GoKwik platform is available as SDKs for easy web, android, iOS, flutter and also react-native integration.
Sarvartha Kanchan, Vice President, Supply Chain Management and Customer Experience, Snapdeal said, “With Snapdeal’s extensive connect with emerging online buyers, especially across India’s smaller cities and towns, implementation of new digital technologies is an important part of our strategy to enhance user experience. GoKwik’s AI/ML-enabled model will help us offer a customised experience those factors in the diversity amidst our user base.”
The available e-commerce plugins for GoKwik are available for WooCommerce, Magneto, Shopify, and OpenCart.
Back in February 2022, the global AI market size was estimated to reach $997.7 billion by 2028 with a consistent CAGR of 40.2%. The Gurugram-based start-up is planning to become one of the most influential e-commerce enablement companies in India. GoKwik would be the only company that uses AI and ML algorithms to offer better, smarter, customised shopping experiences to its clients.
According to independent studies, the Indian e-commerce market is expanding at a ferocious rate which has to be a positive sign for e-commerce enablement players like GoKwik and its aforementioned peers. By 2030, chances are that the Indian e-commerce market grows up to $350 billion and create a demand for a seamless online shopping experience. The important key players are more likely to be the brands that simplify how customers shop.
As of now, GoKwik provides services to more than 250 brands including LimeRoad, Shoppers Stop, Mamaearth, Beardo, Noise, Crossbeats, The Souled Store, Spykar, Superdry, Crocs, Metro, Fast & Up, Faces, My Glamm, etc. This year, GoKwik partnered with Boat to improve conversion rates as well as open up a risk-free CoD process with the help of the e-commerce enabler. Boat is recognised as India’s no. 1 brand for wireless equipment like headphones, earphones etc.
“E-commerce enablement players will play a pivotal role in fuelling the burgeoning Indian e-retail market which is projected to touch $120 billion in next 4-5 years. Conversion rates across the funnel and RTO are major pain points for any e-commerce business, and an e-commerce enablement player like GoKwik bringing network advantage is best poised to solve these problems. This fundraise from Sequoia Capital India is a strong validation of our promise and product-market fit," said Chirag Taneja, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO), GoKwik.
In February, GoKwik joined hands with Snapdeal, an app-based e-commerce company that draws up to 86% of its orders from outside of metro cities. Through the partnership, Snapdeal will be integrating GoKwik’s AI-based model and Machine Learning solutions to gain insight and build a better and customised shopping experience for its customers living in small cities and towns.
Joyeeta Ghosal, GoKwik’s Director of Brand Marketing said, "Marketing will enable us to create awareness and recognition for the ground-breaking work that is happening at GoKwik and the problems that weare solving and as we scale our network, we also scale the businesses of our D2C partners which will in effect, benefit the end consumer/shopper. This is an exciting time to be working in technology and D2C and I am happy to be able to contribute to this space through GoKwik.”
Along with new partnerships, Taneja’s GoKwik has also been expanding its team by hiring new talents such as Amazon’s Kunal Tiwari who joined as Chief Product Officer in January. Tiwari brings up to 15 years of experience across various sectors including banking, security, and commerce industries. Recently, another ex-Amazon, Pranav Merchant joined GoKwik as its head of operations to create strategies for the overall organisation and fix operational complexities.
“We are witnessing stunning growth in e-commerce in India, specifically in social commerce platforms and D2C brands, many of whom Sequoia Capital India has partnered with. The GoKwik team has identified a wedge into this market to solve merchants’ pain points of cart conversions at checkout and high returns on COD. We believe that GoKwik will be an important enabler to the ecosystem, solving multiple needs of merchants over time," said Ashish Agrawal, managing director at Sequoia Capital India.
Following is an overview of GoKwik’s direct competitors that share the same space as the e-commerce enabler in the market.
Instamojo is an Indian fintech company founded in 2012 by Sampad Swain. The Bengaluru-based company runs a platform that offers customers various fintech solutions such as a payment gateway and set-up store for businesses as well as individuals. Over the years, this Swain’s company has been funded four times by investors like Mastercard, Gunosy Capital, Times Internet, etc.
The Gurugram-based Indian payment gateway company is quite famous in the Indian e-retail and e-commerce market. Anirban Mukherjee is the current CEO of PayUMoney which generates a total of $160 million yearly revenue. The company provides reliable online payment solutions for POS and also smart billing sectors. Since its inception in 2011, PayUMoney has expanded to have 1,800 employees and invested in Vayana Network, Lucky App, and Fisdom. In 2014, the company acquired Eashmart for an undisclosed amount.
Co-founded by Akash Sinha and based in Bengaluru, Cashfree is another budding Indian fintech platform active since 2015. Cashfree provides not only payment transactions but also banking and other related services to other businesses. It has around 250-500 full-time employees and generates up to $25 million in yearly revenue. Cashfree invested $15 million last year in a UAE-based fintech platform called Telr. Sinha’s independent company has completed a total of 3 funding rounds led by SBI, Y Combinator, Smilegate Investments, etc.
Due to the COVID-19 effect and the availability of fast internet online shopping has gone mainstream in cities, towns, and other areas of India. E-commerce brands are now preferred more than ever which is why they need to improve the overall shopping experience to attract more customers and meet their demands. Companies like GoKwik are enabling these brands to do the same by taking multiple steps in democratising online shopping.
GoKwik has grown 100x and has 150+ full-time employees working 24/7 thanks to its remote-first working model. Though it has only been a little more than 15 months of GoKwik, during this time the start-up has successfully integrated 250 brands to bring visible improvement in their conversion rates, RTO, and GMV. Our research team’s analysis shows that the Oddup Score for GoKwik is close to 70.32 which signifies a positive yet cautious outlook for those interested in investing in the company.
“We have been able to improve conversion rates up to 50%, reduce RTOs (return to origin) by up to 40% across the spectrum of merchants, across categories. As we expand our network of merchants, we will continue to democratize the shopping experience, we will keep bringing in upgraded solutions to help them realize incremental GMV,” said Taneja.
Below is a detailed breakdown of GoKwik’s various funding rounds.
The seed round for GoKwik was announced last year. The company ended up raising more than $5 million during this round with the participation of 15 different investors and VCs. Two of the participating investors joined GoKwik as partners including Galina Chifina from RTP Global and Rajat Agarwal from Matrix Partners India. Matrix Partners India was also the lead investor in GoKwik’s seed funding round.
“In a short period of time, GoKwik has achieved a clear product-market fit with a large number of top direct to consumer brands and other e-commerce platforms working with them now. We're excited to double down on our investment in GoKwik and welcome Sequoia Capital India to the partnership," said Rajat Agarwal, managing director at Matrix Partners India.
After less than two months of having a successful seed funding round, GoKwik announced its Series A round. Matrix Partners India, RTP Global, and Sequoia Capital India joined this round and raised a total of $15 million. Out of the three participants, Sequoia Capital India ended up leading this round of finance and Ashish Agrawal, its managing director joined GoKwik as a partner.
Ashish Agrawal, MD at Sequoia India said, “India’s e-commerce market is evolving differently from the west with significant growth in merchants beyond the large e-commerce platforms and dominance of payment methods like UPI and CoD. The team at Sequoia Capital India is excited to strengthen the partnership with GoKwik to build the enablement layer to power this,” he added.
The success of GoKwik’s finance rounds kept increasing at an encouraging rate when the company announced its Series B funding round. This time around, Think Investments, a well-known private investment firm also joined the existing investors of GoKwik including RTP Global, Sequoia Capital India and Matrix Partners India. The funds from the Series B round are planned to be used in improving GoKwik’s online offerings and grow their tech, data science, and product capabilities.
“In a short span of time, GoKwik has grown very rapidly and now works with multiple marquee D2C brands and online marketplaces. Low conversion rate is a key pain point for most e-commerce merchants, and GoKwik’s product offerings precisely solve that problem,” said Shashin Shah, managing partner, Think Investments.
The path ahead for Taneja’s start-up is clear as it has already partnered with three large-scale payment aggregators for easier payment checkouts to small-scale D2C brands. GoKwik is singlehandedly processing more than $1 billion in GMV via its capable platform for partner brands. The goal as of now is to end the fiscal year with over 5,000 merchants.
“The piece that we understand well is e-commerce and we take over the customer’s cart and take it to the final transaction. Over the next 9-12 months we will be focussing on retention and selection use cases for e-commerce and help partners increase their conversions,” said Chirag Taneja, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO), GoKwik.
According to the co-founders, the company also has plans for expansion in Southeast Asia and others to offer new solutions to both online and offline spaces. GoKwik is serious about growing its network of brands and hiring up to 200 talents across India by the end of this year.