Local information and solutions provider ZatSe, a venture of Majestic IT Services Ltd, a subsidiary of the public-listed auto component firm Majestic Auto, covers varied categories like education, healthcare, banks, repair services, couriers, restaurants, deals property and more. Users can post their queries either on the site or via voice calls. ZatSe, which culls information and answers queries of the consumers, claims to have a few thousand of SMEs as its listed partners through whom information services are provided. The venture from one of the branches of the Munjal family (of Hero Group) intends to go pan-India by the end of 2012 and is also looking at fundraising, which could be 20 per cent more than its competitors (read: Justdial which recently raised Rs 327 crore or $57 million in one of the largest ever pre-IPO round of VC funding). Techcircle.in caught up with Ashima Munjal, MD, ZatSe, who speaks about expansion plans, fundraising, challenges, business model and more. Edited excerpts:
How does ZatSe operate and who is your target audience?
ZatSe is a local information and service provider which is operational in Delhi and NCR. Basically it happens through either a phone service or on web. We help you with various numbers like of electricity board during powercuts or taxi in a rainy day, movie show details, cricket scores, even deals and a lot more. Additionally, if someone calls us on our number we can give them phone numbers or get the concerned organisation or person to contact them. For example, if one calls ZatSe with a query about computer repairing, we can get them to contact the caller or we can send them to the caller according to their convenience. Thus it is information and solution at the same time by connecting the consumers with SMEs. Young urban crowd, nuclear families where people are mostly out on work is our target market.
How do you distinguish yourself from Just Dial?
In the web, we try to be faster than them and on the phone we try to be slower than them. The feedback that we have got is that people want patient listener and slow speaker on phone so they can catch up. That's one of the things we focus on while catering to this solution segment. We are even planning to bring in more products that would differentiate us from Just Dial.
What is your business model?
Essentially our business model is two things. For the users or callers we share the information with listers who are hopefully pre listers. And we make money from the small business or medium sized businesses, who want to reach our customers. And when you are calling us you are calling for free. We charge the SMEs a flat fee for listing and after a certain period, we charge them additionally for business they get through us.
The category you are into is a very difficult one to crack. How was the journey so far and what were the challenges?
At the beginning our idea of "anything'' was smaller than our callers so went through an exercise where we tried to understand what ''anything'' is. It is also interesting because we get new question every day we are supposed to answer. There is a challenge of keeping the data current as you know there is a lot of churn in our industry, as 27-30 per cent of people change phones. There are some other challenges like legal challenges like bulk SMS bans.
How have you been coping with that and has it affected your business?
TRAI has given us exemption so we are not affected. There were ten companies that they gave exemption of which five are from our category. Ours is a service which is heavily dependent on SMS as a medium of information delivery. The current ban has exempted us because we don't do marketing messages and we only do one to one messages not one to many.
How do you train your customer service executives? How big is the team?
Training the team is an interesting process. We take them to a geographical know how. If someone grew up in West Delhi we get them to know about Faridabad or Mumbai for that matter. While recruiting, we look at their IQ and their spelling capability as it is important in customer service. In the technical side, we definitely do it on the basis of educational qualification. We did a lot of recruiting from St Stephens (one of the country's top colleges located in Delhi) last year and the year before and it worked well for us. On the database side, we look for people who are curious about information, about having more accurate numbers. We look at the passion of the candidate. When we are recruiting, we look at somebody who is really hungry for growth. Right now, there would be around 100 people in ZatSe.
You are already part of a listed company but is there any plan of independent fund raising for expansion?
As a group, we like external investors because they bring value to business not just money. And at any point when we can get likeminded people who can add value and that sort of change to the scale of the business, we would love to work with them. Are we in the market looking for funds? We should be. That is a more correct answer.
How much are you looking to raise and where would you invest?
Everybody knows what our competition has raised. If we are going to raise money it cannot be 5 per cent of that, it has to be more than 20 per cent of what they have raised.
We will put it in product development and marketing because in this kind of service, life has to be outdoor. We will also use it to grow geographically, expanding our operations to Mumbai and other metros by the end of this year, going by the telecom user-base. Hence, wherever the telecom user-base is higher we will follow there.
What have been your key focus areas till now?
In a service like us, the key focus has to be consumer. What does the consumer want and what kind of information do we get them. In the pre-launch phase, we were looking at what we thought the consumer wants today in Delhi and NCR. We have a very good idea what the consumer wants. Since we are selling in the market, our listers tell us what they want. We are catering to both of these segments. It also helps if we can think ahead about what we can provide to the market before they say what they want. It is a combination of two things what people are asking for and what we can provide on top of that. We have to be swift in our service to compete with the market and to live by the name 'ZatSe'.
What's the revenue you are targeting by the end of this year?
We are targeting revenue that takes care of our operation in Delhi by the end of this year. A fine balance between expenses and income that's what we are looking forward to and also which would be the right for us to go national.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)