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Dec 16, 2022
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The focus is to make shopping ‘Social’ with 3-step mantra “Shop. Post. Earn.”

-Rahul Khanna, Co-founder, Sociofieds

Team 100X.VC interviewed the Founders' of their Portfolio Companies about their Start-up journey; from idea, execution to overcoming challenges. Here, Rahul Khanna, Co-Founder, Sociofieds shares his responses.

 

Q1. How did the idea of Sociofieds come up?

I’ll start answering this with a series of simple questions. When was the last time you:

  • Secretly admired a friend’s dressing style?
  • Asked a friend which brand/store they purchased their clothes from?
  • Asked a friend for a recommendation. Be it the next show to binge on Netflix or the next electronics to purchase or the brand whose quirky t-shirt your friend keeps on wearing.
  • Didn’t complete a purchase because you weren’t aware of the brand/company?

If you are like most people, the answer to all the above questions would be “Very recently”

In the past two years, the Indian e-commerce industry has seen a tectonic rise in consumer adoption and behavior. While e-commerce has grown rapidly, the trust gap has also widened. With a plethora of options (D2C brands in India have been growing at a CAGR of 40%), the social recommendation system is now more important than it has ever been.

We felt that there is a huge gap in the existing e-commerce models wherein the platform trust alone is still not (and can not) able to match the trust scores of a Social Recommendation.

This led us to create Sociofieds - “A single platform where users create content only about verified purchases that they make. This leads to trusted product recommendations and discoverability in their respective social circles.  Not only that, users are rewarded for every purchase that happens via their content leading to passive income opportunities.”

We want to make online Shopping Social with our 3-step mantra “SHOP. POST. EARN.”

 

Q2. What made you start working on and executing this idea?

Our co-founders worked in the consumer tech domain for nearly a decade. During this tenure, they realized that Trust is one of the biggest barriers towards the maturity of the e-commerce industry.

We also did methodical research regarding the Social Commerce industry to understand the size of the market and the opportunity size that it brings.

Working from a product-first lens is engrained in our philosophy and we felt that the idea coupled with the market size is the most suited to our interest and skillset.

 

Q3. When did you realize the need to raise Venture Capital - Seed funding?

This was a no-brainer from the very start. Consumer products intrinsically demand high inputs of cash for multiple areas of an organization. Be it technology scaling or marketing, all business areas require capital infusion from the get-go. It is not that businesses cannot be made without venture capital. But, having venture capital does 2 very important things. It gives you velocity and guidance from your investors.

Hence, we knew from the very start that this is the route we were going to take.

 

Q4. How has 100X helped you at the beginning of your journey?

Everyone at 100X has been really helpful and valuable to us. Especially due to the fact that we all are first-time founders, 100X’s diverse team helped us gain many perspectives in every dimension of business.

The masterclasses organized by the team were particularly helpful. Not just for the invaluable learning, but also for the exposure.

 

Q5. Has your startup pivoted? If so, What has the pivot been?

We have done a complete product and industry pivot in the very early stages of our journey. We were working on a Fintech product for digital escrow but soon realized the RBI regulatory framework was going to be a challenge for the small team at this stage.

However, our core ethos was always the same “Solve for trust in the e-commerce industry” and with the same ethos, we pivoted towards Sociofieds.

 

Q6. What challenges did you face & how did you overcome them?

For any e-commerce marketplace, there’s a Catch-22 problem associated. 

Brands want to be associated with established platforms that have user footfalls. And users want to be on a platform that has maximum optionality in terms of brands. Convincing brands to onboard is one of our biggest challenges. Most of them would not agree to onboard without initial user traction. Getting to meet with the right person in the brand is the key.

To overcome these challenges, we did the following:

  • When our cold email outreach did not work for brand reach out, we started going to their offices in person. We would literally knock on doors, and request the guards to help us meet someone in the company who could help us. Eventually, things started to turn around.
  • We also attended some in-person events which gave us the opportunity to meet brand founders in person. We got to pitch our product promise directly to the founders. That also led to some major breakthroughs.

 

Q7. What stage is your startup at present?

We have launched our iOS app and our Android app is going to go live in early December 2022. Perhaps, by the time this content goes on the website, our Android app would be live as well.

We have early user traction and tonnes of valuable feedback. And are constantly working on it.

 

Q8. As founders, what are your goals for the next 1-2 years?

  • To onboard maximum Gen-Z-focused brands
  • Prove the hypothesis of online social buying via user-generated content
  • Validate that passive income streams can be generated via content regardless of the followers' count

 

Q9. What keeps you motivated & keeps you going?

From the very start, what has fascinated me the most is how a piece of code can impact a user’s life. Giving the best user experience and solving for trust in online e-commerce are our biggest drivers.

 

Q10. Your message for Startup founders building in the Social Commerce sector?

This message is sector agnostic

  • Be shameless
  • Ask for help
  • Research hard into your sector
  • Target a big market size

 

About Rahul Khanna:

Rahul is the Co-Founder & CEO at Sociofieds. He completed his Computer Science Engineering in 2010. He has more than 11 years of professional experience leading multiple teams and working on consumer products at multiple companies including the likes of Samsung & OLX. In his own words, “One of the most fascinating aspects of technology is the scale at which it can touch lives and change them for the better”.

After gaining insights into consumer behavior and pain points across his years of working experience, he now wishes to build the best-in-class Social Shopping experience. He lives in Delhi-NCR with his family. When is not busy playing with his 2-year-old son, he likes to go on long road trips and do adventure sports.

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