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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

300K transactions and counting, Hashtag Loyalty is disrupting the way offline businesses market

Local offline businesses today struggle to compete against large multi-chain enterprises and online competitors. These businesses spend their time and money on marketing activities that are focused on customer acquisition rather than on retaining their regular customers, even though the latter contribute to as much as 80 percent of their revenues. Dhruv Dewan, Krishi Fagwani and Karan Chechani saw an opportunity in the offline space to assist these businesses. They thought to maximise their revenue by providing them with enterprise grade marketing technology that would be simple, easy to use, and affordable.

Dhruv says, “We wanted to utilise the power of mobile and data to help these businesses focus on the right customers and ensure they kept coming back to their store.”

Together, the trio founded Hashtag Loyalty in March 2015.
Team HashTag Loyalty

Founders’ experience and skills

Twenty six-year-old Dhruv spent two and a half years at Ernst and Young as part of the IT Risk team for financial services. His key focus was on technology governance, risk, security and compliance.

Krishi completed his graduation in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His interests during graduation centred on various aspects of technology and finance. During graduation, Krishi worked with the Illinois Business Consulting Group as well as Accenture. After graduation, he worked with Cisco Systems in the US and then he moved to India to work with EY as an IT Risk and Assurance Analyst. Krishi brings his technology and consulting experience to the table. His project management and consulting experience has helped him map Hashtag Loyalty's business projections along with leading its in-house tech team.

Karan completed his graduation in industrial engineering from Dwarkadas J Sanghvi College of Engineering in Mumbai. During his graduation, Karan worked on different aspects of production at the Larsen & Toubro factories in Mumbai. After graduation, he worked with Godrej Appliances as an R&D engineer. He then moved to Teach For India to work for a cause he was really passionate about and worked as a Fellowship Selection and Training Associate. Karan has a keen eye for design, branding and communication. He brings with him expertise in product building and mapping and actively works on product design and planning and marketing.

What does Hashtag Loyalty exactly do?

It offers a customer engagement and marketing automation solution to local businesses. It currently works with offline businesses in the F&B, wellness and retail sectors. Its solution helps businesses build and manage their loyalty programmes, understand their customers and brings them back again.

Karan shares, "In our early ideation stages, we worked on every part of the product but the name, avoiding the topic until we had no choice. Eventually, the three of us locked ourselves in a room and made sure we got out with a name. This enforced lockdown resulted in Hashtag Loyalty (#Loyalty), a non-invasive yet direct reference to what we do. Loyalty is a direct reference for customers to identify with us and what we do. The Hashtag, meanwhile, signifies the digital connect that we are enabling between customers and businesses."

  • The company provides its businesses a personalised dashboard.
  • It helps them build and manage their loyalty solutions.
  • Run campaigns via email or SMS to reach out their customers whenever they want to.
  • Auto-engage that helps them set up smart triggers that cover automated communication with their customers throughout their life-cycle.
  • Promotions: A customer acquisition feature that helps them acquire relevant customers from our network.
  • Run a direct one-to-one customer feedback system.
  • Enable partnerships with non-competing businesses in their local neighbourhoods to cross acquire customers.

Present market

Hashtag Loyalty currently works within the SMB industry across the retail, wellness and entertainment industries. The retail market in India consists of over 14 million outlets, out of which the organised sector consists of 1.4 million. The retail market in India is valued at $672 billion, of which the loyalty market makes up about 1 percent.

The company has generated Rs 36 lakh in revenue since inception and is currently on track to generate over Rs 26 lakh in this financial year (FY16/17). It is currently seeking Rs 1.5 crore as a seed investment. This will help it grow to over 5,000 outlets, 1.2 million users and generate revenue of Rs 2.4 crore in FY17/18. It should be noted that this figure only refers to revenue from validated sources. Additional revenue sources could increase total revenue by up to 25 percent.

Hashtag Loyalty charges a monthly subscription for each business that it works with. It is a nine-member team today, including the three co-founders.

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