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Lessons from a failed start-up

Last updated on: October 22, 2012 11:26 IST

Lessons from a failed start-up

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Why did IIM alumnus Rahul Chidgopkar shut down IzziDeals? Read on...

Rahul Chidgopkar, an IIM Indore alumni pursued a corporate life only to realise he wasn't made for it.

Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, he jumped into one of the most lucrative areas of 2011 in India -- deals.

Everyone was coming up with a different way of pushing deals and so did Rahul. Thus was born IzziDeals and he fought the battle for more than a year before announcing its demise on Facebook earlier this month.

It i's always a bit sad to see a start-up go down but as always, this only makes one stronger. Rahul already up and working with another start-up, BizPunditz.

But what happened to IzziDeals? We caught up with Rahul who was humble and gracious enough to share his experiences with us.


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Image: Rahul Chidgopkar (inset) of IzziDeals recently announced that it has shut operations.
Photographs: Courtesy Yourstory.in

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'Deals as an industry cannot be termed as good/bad'

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What went wrong with IzziDeals?

Rahul: There are multiple angles here.

  • Though I managed to figure out the B2B aspect of the business (merchant acquisition), I could not crack the B2C side (customer acquisition). The key problem was I could not clearly differentiate IzziDeals from other deal sites. This was primarily a communication issue.
  • As the technology was outsourced, I faced problems trying to execute new ideas, so the experimentation cycle was very long. Finally, I ran out of money trying to do this.
  • But, it is nice to know that TimesDeal has recently changed its model and made its deals free, which was the hypothesis that IzziDeals was started with. So, it is nice to know that someone thinks this model is workable.

All the while you were running it, did you have a feeling that deals wouldn't go anywhere?

Deals as an industry cannot be termed as good/bad. Most people in India love a good bargain and so deals, as a concept is still lucrative.

However, there are some issues such as poor relevance, spam, service quality, etc which have led to poor experience for both merchants and customers. So, I still don't think the industry is dead, but I definitely feel it will have to evolve and address some of the problems mentioned above.

When did you realise that this is it?

The realisation came some time in September. I had already started toying with another idea, but one conversation in particular brought a lot of clarity.

I had a discussion with Arpit Agarwal, who is a fellow Headstarter. He had gone through the pain of shutting his own start-up and joining a start-up incubator in Delhi. After our start-up recruitment event, Headstart Higher, he asked me about my plans and made me confront some serious issues regarding my start-up plans and helped me gain perspective on my ambitions, my family, etc. After the conversation, I decided to pull the plug.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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'Have the conviction to start up, but also have the conviction to shut down'

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What led you to believe BizPunditz is your calling?

I was clear that I wanted to work in the start-up environment. So I got talking to a few of them and was in advanced discussions with a few. Among the start-ups I was speaking to, I felt that BizPunditz had a product that was interesting, my role was challenging and I knew one of the co-founders very well. So, I decided to accept the offer.

What do you take away from IzziDeals as an entrepreneur?

Lots of things!

  • I know I have a good risk appetite and will definitely try it again some time in the future.
  • If you are a tech-enabled start-up, never outsource technology. It just doesn't work.
  • Have the conviction to start up, but also have the conviction to shut down. I didn't have the latter.
  • Make sure that your family's aspirations are also taken care of.



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