Last week we wrote about how SmilingStart lets you can support a social cause through your browser, this week we have a chat with Akhil Suhag, the founder of TheResPage.com. We all wish we could our bit for the society but who has the time, so lets do some good when we shop! All you need to do is to click on “Shop and Contribute” to get started. You can then click on the NGO/Social Cause you wish to select and finally click on any of our partner shops, you are redirected and you shop as usual. Once you have made a purchase a small commission from the Partner store is donated to support the cause you selected. Sounds too good to be true, lets hear it from the founder himself.
How did you come up with the idea that shopping can be used to do some good?
Even as a teenager I somehow knew I would one day want to be an Internet entrepreneur. After about 2 years of working and studying abroad in Europe and Singapore, I finally realized a regular job isn’t really for me and finally decided to pursue what I always wanted to do.
My Master’s thesis was based around the E-commerce industry in the country and helped me dwell deeper in to the entire industry. Customer Acquisition has been a major concern for players.
I was also actively looking for models where money can be raised for NGO’s/Society without the user having to pay. I believe people generally feel like contributing but are restricted due to a lot of tangible/intangible reasons. I thought the problem can be plugged using some innovation, and believed the time was ripe for some social disruption.
It was a conscious decision to make it a Self-Sustaining Social Venture and work towards the greater good of the Society. The size and growth of the sector also mean that the potential of impact is huge. The industry is pegged to touch about $40 Billion by 2015; even a small size of the pie means a major impact.
More importantly an impact where people do not have to pay a penny extra!
How was the response of e-retailers when you approached them for the first time? How willing they were to take a cut in their profit 🙂
Getting more people to adopt online shopping is a major area of investment for any e-commerce player. Online powerhouses are spending millions on marketing and other activities which do not guarantee direct conversions.
In a way we tried to solve these issues. We give users more of a reason to shop online, hence more traffic and even new traffic which otherwise would not be shopping online. And the e-commerce partner pays only when there is an actual conversion (sale). Both are very strong reasons for e-commerce players to partner with us.
When we said we can do all this and the idea also has a major social angle and can be a change driver, the stores were game for it. We started with just Flipkart and Infibeam and slowly added to our portfolio. Today we have about 17 partners and growing.
Currently when a user tries to shop from TheResPage there is no way to track the exact amount that is being donated. Are there any plans to display this in future , either by integrating on the e-retailer site itself or as a plug-in in your own site.
It is currently technically almost impossible to show the exact amount to the user. This is more because after the user moves to his/her preferred store we no longer have control over his/her session.
We however are thinking of possibilities of making it viable. This however will require some technical changes at the merchant’s side, and will need some bargaining power at our end to pull it off. Scale is what will be crucial, when our partner’s see the amount of traffic we are driving in they will be more willing to be a part of more real time tracking systems.
We at our end are also constantly experimenting with technology to better the system gradually. You will see a lot happening in the next 6-8 months on the website technically. We have sort of put a “Minimum Viable Product” up to gauge customer response and are a long way from a finished version. There is still a “beta” written on the logo if you look closer.
We have incremental surprises lined up for the future, keep watching 😉
About the team
Akhil is a Computer Science Engineer who worked with Infosys/TCS before pursuing his Masters In Management from ESC- Grenoble. He was working as a Financial Analyst in Singapore before coming back to India and working on www.therespage.com. He is passionate about start-ups and provides the long term strategic vision at theResPage.
Calling him as just the “Tech” guy would be an understatement. His skills are varied and vast. Apart from being the driving force behind the tech and design, he also has great business insights and people skills. A computer science graduate, Nishant has started a tech start-up of his own before joining us at TheResPage.
Ankit is the backbone of the entire system. It would really be hard to imagine TheResPage without him. He is currently an MBA student at IMT Ghaziabad. He propels everything that we do, from marketing campaigns to the direction we should take in the future. As sturdy as the rock, we can bank on him without thinking about it twice.
Akshay is the youngest member and the live wire of the team. He is about to graduate from NIT- Allahabad in May, and is giving up an offer from a Multinational bank to work at TheResPage. Part of our tech team, his strengths include coding and more importantly playing pranks on the rest of us. Full of energy and enthusiasm and belief, he tends to lift our morale up no matter what the situation is.
What we think of TheResPage
If you can’t get people to come to you, then you go to them. That is exactly what these guys are trying to do through this venture. While India might have its share of billionaires but when it comes to philanthropy, we don’t see many taking out their wallets. The e-commerce players who have agreed for the tie-up should also be lauded for their efforts. So go get your credit cards and head to TheResPage and shop responsibly 🙂