Kunal Shah, founder of Freecharge, made his debut on Reddit with an AMA or Ask me Anything session, last week. Originally scheduled for an hour between 6 PM to 7 PM on October 1st, the AMA session went on till 11.30 PM, when Kunal posted his last reply.
Several interesting and inspirational thoughts and statements were shared by Kunal, as Redditors from India thronged the AMA thread, and asked intriguing, yet polite questions.
Freecharge, which was acquired by Snapdeal for $400-450 million in April this year, was recently in news for triggering the mobile wallet war in India, as they have launched Freecharge Wallet which directly competes against Paytm. Questions were raised about it’s security and safety features, and Kunal answered them with confidence.
Amazingly, none of his replies were down voted by Redditors, which shows that his replies were liked and appreciated by all.
Despite being a college dropout, Kunal went on to create a $450 million ecommerce company. He shared several nuggets of wisdom and inspiration, which can help any buddy entrepreneur to understand the nuances of this game in a better way.
Here are some highlights from this AMA session, categorized under three different headings: Questions about Freecharge; Questions about Startups in India; Questions about Inspiration/Motivation.
A) Questions About Freecharge
1) Sponsorship Plans of Freecharge
Recently, Freecharge became the official sponsors of ISL Team: Delhi Dynamos. When asked about his plans for sponsoring more teams, Kunal said that it all depends on the ‘branding goals’ (pun was included in this answer!)
2) Freecharge API?
Kunal has assured that Freecharge is coming up with their API very soon; which can help other developers to leverage their technological advances.
3) Freecharge Wallet Security?
Kunal shared that “We are PCI DSS Level 3.1 certified and are trusted by millions of users already.” Additionally, lot more differentiators are already in the making.
4) Why did he sell Freecharge?
For a startup founder, it is very necessary to keep away the emotional attachment with their company. Giving examples, Kunal said that instead of treating their startups like their spouses, they should treat them as their kids, and let them watch them grow.
5) Change of Branding for Freecharge?
Giving an example of $750 billion worth Apple, Kunal shared that name doesn’t matter.
6) Monetization of Freecharge
Kunal simplified the monetization process of Freecharge, leaving out any speculation regarding their business model.
7) USPs of Freecharge
Being brutally honest, Kunal shared that Freecharge is light and simple, and this is all which makes it better! On the issue of venture capital, he shared that it enables higher quantity of mistakes.
8) Free App for buying Apps?
Yes, its happening. As per Kunal, this feature would be loaded within next few months.
9) Biggest Challenge While Creating Freecharge
It was hiring the right people, as per Kunal. Moreover, as he was not from a IIT/IIM background, this factor became even more crucial.
B) Questions About Startups
1) FDI in B2C
As per Kunal, FDI is a sure shot way to boost the economy of a nation. Personally, he doesn’t believe in populist approach. Right now, FDI is allowed in B2B ecommerce, but B2C is still out of bounds for foreign investors. We had recently shared why Grofers went out of India, and this can be a major reason.
2) Skills required for being in a startup?
Three most important skills, which are a must for any startup founder or employee: Tenacity, A strong need to make a big impact and Absence of creating or tolerating bullshit. It can’t be any more honest that these!
3) How big the startup boom in India?
As per Kunal, this is just the beginning as more than 300 million new smartphone users would be added in India.
4) How many mobile wallets will survive?
Any wallet which solves the real need of the user, will survive. All they need to do is save the customer from boring transactions.
5) Net Neutrality In India?
As per Kunal, anything which discriminates should not be allowed. Hence, if Net Neutrality is discriminating users from accessing the Internet, it’s a big no.
6) On Rahul Yadav
Kunal shared that yes, he regrets some of the things he did in the past, but also shared that his antics did made him a popular guy in the system.
7) App-Only Trend Is Good or Bad?
As per Kunal, app is the future, and its indeed a bold move by some ecommerce portals to choose app-only mode of shopping. However, doors shouldn’t be closed for those users who are preferring desktop only mode. There should be room for all.
8) Difference In India and Abroad
It’s the appreciation of quality which is missing in India. As per Kunal, the day when every designer and programmer gets serious about the ‘pride’ associated with their work, India will change.
9) Role of the Founder
As per Kunal, his role is to push people to achieve greatness, and to make them proud of their work.
10) Unicorn Fad in Startup World?
Kunal shared that any startup which causes an irreversible behavior among their users, will stay Unicorn and keep on growing. An interesting observation for all young startups!
C) Questions About Inspiration and Motivation
1) How to motivate yourself?
When chips are down, when everything is going downwards, how can the entrepreneur keep up the tempo? Kunal replied that failure is actually the fuel which success needs. The goals motivate him, and push him to keep delivering.
2) Dropping out of MBA
Kunal hated writing theories and papers in MBA, and discovered that it was a slow learning process for him. Later, he pivoted a BPO of a dot com startup, and then rest is history.
3) Biggest Fear
The biggest fear which Kunal encountered was the charm and addiction of a steady income
4) How to cold call?
Kunal’s best advice on how to overcome shyness while cold-calling: “Act like a shameless guy and think its just acting.”
Kunal’s gets inspired by those, who refuse to give up. Persistent and stubborn often beats the talented and genius.
6) How To kickstart entrepreneurship?
Taking a sales job is an excellent way to kickstart the process. Afterall, sales is the basic building block of an organization, and an experience of sales removes all fears and apprehensions.
7) Just Do It!
When asked which one action would Kunal re-do in life, he replied: Start-up earlier than he did.
Besides answering almost each and every question posted, Kunal also expressed humility by saying sorry for every bad customer support experience encountered by any user.
You can find the entire AMA thread conducted by Kunal here.
Our earlier coverage of Reddit AMAs:
- Zomato’s Founder Does Reddit AMA, But It Goes Horribly Wrong. Here Are 16 Weird Answers!
- Mobikwik Founder’s Reddit AMA: The Good, The Bad & The Worst
- Rahul Yadav’s Reddit AMA Gives A Peek Into His Thought Process