Industrial Economist(IE): Groupon India is the largest deals store in India. How has the story been so far for the company? What has been your success mantra?
Ankur Warikoo(AW): The journey has been nothing short of fascinating. When we entered India there was a lot of competition. Deal sites were coming up every-day. So we had to do something that was different.
We realized that everyone was running this business as customer first. They were running after customers, trying to get the maximum discounts. However, the deals business is a merchant-first business. You have to solve the business problem of the merchant first. If you do that, the merchant automatically makes the customer happy.
That’s what Groupon did. We went after the top merchants and helped them in solving the problems they were facing - be it sales, or capacity planning, or new product launches, or pushing slow-moving products etc. This has been the key mantra of our success.
IE: Apart from the deals in services space, the company is now into product deals as well. How has the growth been? Given that there is huge competition from well established players what different has Groupon got to offer its customers?
AW: Product deals were more of an extension of our service offering, than an attempt to capture the products e-Commerce space. We dabble in categories, where we are able to differentiate, quirky products from international markets, fashion accessories, electronic gadgets at crazy prices but only focused on 1 SKU etc.
IE: As the head of APAC Emerging markets, what are your growth plans? How significant is this market to the overall Groupon business?
AW: The emerging markets comprising India, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines is the fastest growing region for Groupon. Everyone recognizes that this will be the engine of growth - with over 400 million Internet user as a region.
IE: What is the market in India for the deals space? Where do you see the growth coming from in the next 3-5 years? Do you see new large players coming into the industry?
AW: Growth is going to come in from more and more local merchants coming online. India has more than 3 million small and medium businesses selling directly to the customer. Groupon has worked with more than 25,000 of them. The headroom to grow is massive. Competition, if sensible, is always welcome. It keeps you on your toes and helps grow the category in a broad manner. We would always be welcoming of sensible competition.
IE: At 33, being part of Fortune 40 under 40, what are your 5 key success factors?
• Challenge the status quo. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t settle for anything lesser than the best.
• Don’t say that you can do it . Just do it! Be super-execution focused.
• Work with super smart people. That’s the only competitive advantage businesses will have over time.
• Always bet on tomorrow. Don’t solve for problems that exist only today but wont tomorrow.
• DO EPIC SHIT - have fun while you are doing something.