Life is a book and the journey are the pages. Every day is a journey but for some, they make their own. This is my story, this is my journey.
I am Bhavik Sonigra and I am the founder of The Banyan Tree Socio Commercial LLP. First, I will like to decode the purpose of the name. If you see Banyan Tree has got many roots and each root provides the necessary oxygen for the tree, and as it grows older, it only becomes much stronger; likewise we want to have deep roots and many roots. The other aspect behind the name is the reason why I am called banya, so yes, I belong to a banya family and the very name banya is because of the Banyan tree.
I graduated as an engineer and started working with Infosys. I remember the earlier days when I used to say my friends about how our young age is the best part of our life. Years went on, I grew in age but then suddenly I felt that age is now not the best part. Just as I was sitting, a thought struck me. I looked at my soon-to-be beautiful wife and asked, “Should I quit to start a business?”, without hesitation she said, “You should do what you feel like, time will fly and then you will get older.” She added that she was telling me all this on her dad’s death anniversary and I couldn’t help wonder about the coincidence.
It made me wonder – life will fly and one day you will be no more! Why not start now and this is how I started The Banyan Tree Socio Commercial LLP.
Initially,the company had 2 partners including me but somehow things did not materialize and the other partner quit the company very soon, I tried convincing him but did not work. There were some initial thoughts on how I would run a company without a tech partner, I was inclined to the business side and he was into technology. It was a huge setback, but then I thought of all the ones who single-handedly managed their business. So the business acumen is always more important than just being a geek and I got huge motivation remembering all those legends. You will receive fall backs in life and relationships but it is not how you get hit hard but it is always about how you fight back hard.
We initially created klippd.in which is a savings platform and helps our users save money on their day to day expenses. So, be it medicines or groceries or recharges, we helped our users save money through cash backs and discount codes. As knowledge grew, so did our thought process. We gradually wanted to capture everything at the source and we made our first product for corporates, & named it Banco. This is what Spanish people call their banks. While there is no correlation between me and Spain, the word sounded good and made sense to our offering. We created Banco for all those players who have a payment tool and are looking to increase traction. We started reaching out to people and let me tell you, though I had some business acumen, I had zero knowledge on marketing.
The first person we called was a wallet player and the initial talks were very good. It was my first interaction with a very senior person of a wallet player. I was very excited about the new partnership but suddenly things went wrong, we still don’t know why did he stop accepting our calls. We did follow-up a number of times and the last answered call was in February 2017. However, we still call them and hope for a positive outcome. I initially got stuck to just around the wallet player, assuming that the player will give us a good and large user base but one day my wife said, you should not just stick around one client, you should call as many others too and I realized my mistake. Reaching out to as many clients, will increase your probability of winning the game, so make that move without even thinking twice.
In the meantime, we came up with two more products, Koupons and Freedo. One day, I got a mail from one of the dot coms, that they are looking for a partner for helping their clients get discount codes and we saw this as an opportunity. We instantly replied to the mail and were happy for the association. We asked them to meet us at R-City mall. At the back drop, we thought that it was a very big company, huge reach and we were very excited to partner with them. The client reached the location and we started pitching for our product. It was still initial days, we met the client and they presented themselves as they were really big. The client told me that he was soon going to acquire a 125 seat BPO etc etc. We got fascinated as this meant our business will also increase because of his reach. We had a coffee and we ventured out. At a later date, we insisted to fix a meeting again to discuss the strategy. While I was travelling towards their office, I had assumed it would be a big office with around 100’s of employee’s but when I reached the office location, it wasn’t anything but huge. It was a rather small shop with one employee. It is really hilarious the way we assume things. However, till date, we still have that client with us who uses our Freedo product. No client is big or small, if it’s a client, it is and never assume things, do calculate but don’t assume.
Another story that I feel the urge to tell is when I had gone for a meeting to Pune with one of the leading corporate houses of India. It was December then. I made the pitch and left. We followed up with that client for a couple of months, but they never fully responded. One fine evening, I got a call. It was a needy voice. It was the same client and this was May. They had a product and were looking for an engagement solution. We pitched in and at the same moment we innovated our new product, The Koupon Box. They liked our product and yes, they are our client today. But the journey did not stop there, we got acquainted to a tech partner and they liked our idea. With the tech partner, came along another big 22 partners and a user base of around a million. The very call that looked to be distressed, helped us create our product, the Koupon Box. We further pitched to other clients and everyone appreciated the concept. We are working with many gaming companies who want to engage their users with the help of the non residual component in the game which are the scores that you earn while playing it. The usability and flexibility of our Koupon box solution is huge. We have clients who use it for referral strategies, some using it for feedback, reviews and some use it for milestones. The cases are numerous and each one is different. It is very interesting to know about the client perspective and then build a story around it. We have clients from insurance to health sector, from financial institutions to banks. They spread across horizons. I want to take a moment to mention my brother-in-law, Mr. Kunal Shah, who helped me with great insights during that period. Help will pour but you need to ask.
We are reaching out to as many vendors as we can and want their special offers to be live on our Koupon box. These help them reach a larger audience and increased brand awareness. We are still small, yet we have more than 1 million plus reach, around 450+ vendors and lot of used discount codes.
As India is getting more digital and discounts disappearing, we want to give users a tool to get the product at a cheaper price in a way which help brands reach out to more people without having to bleed and provide a platform for industries to engage their users. So, as we say, we are Influencer’s for the Brand, an Engagement platform for clients and a saving tool for users.
We are on a learning path and when the results are announced, we should be able to help as many Indians, as we can. Sometimes, it is through discounts, sometimes through engagement, sometimes through increased sales and sometimes through goodwill. Yet there is one thing common to all, we want it all the logical banya way.
I am reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org
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