“Under promise, over deliver”, she says. This is the story of Swati Bhargava, a woman who dreamt big and achieved bigger.
Swati, born and brought up in Ambala, a small town near the Indian capital, is the co-founder of Cashkaro, the largest & fastest growing cashback & coupons site in the country. An alumnus of London School of Economics with Honors in Mathematics & Economics, Swati has also been an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for 5 years. But the calling of her dreams was so loud, that she dropped her job to pave her path to becoming one of the most successful women in India.
Along with her husband Rohan Bhargava, she founded Pouring Pounds in 2011 which today stands as UK’s leading Cashback and Voucher websites and works with 2,500 popular brands like Tesco, Debenhams, M&S, Expedia and Argos. But she never stopped dreaming, and after one successful venture, she entered the Indian market to bring to the common mass an opportunity to shop more with interesting discounts by co-founding Cashkaro.com in April 2013.
The Cashback business model, as Swati describes it, “is a great product/market fit for India as people here love savings and are naturally inclined to seek EXTRA whenever they shop online. The overwhelming response has certainly been a significant motivator to manifest our dream for the company over last few years.”
Cashback is a lucrative word for a buyer, and the cashback industry has been flourishing in other nations for quite some time. India’s e-commerce market has tripled in the last three years, and is expected to triple again in another two years. With the growth of e-commerce, the cashback industry has been on an ascent.
“The Cashback industry has evolved in the past 2 years with millions of users recognizing the model & its benefits thus making it as their default site before doing any transactions. I feel that our first mover advantage has helped us stay far ahead in the Indian Cashback ecosystem. We have evolved from just a Cashback & Coupons site and now act as a singular platform for users where they can search, compare & prices and earn extra cashback over and above applied coupons across retailers. This added features helps the user in making an informed purchase and save every time thus acts as differentiating factor.”, says Swati.
The journey from an employee to an entrepreneur is never an easy one. It’s not just an idea, it’s what comes after that. But like they say the greater the obstacle the more glory in overcoming it. As Swati quotes, “I strongly believe in doing what you love because then it doesn’t feel like work at all. When it feels too difficult to push forward, I always remind myself, ‘This too shall pass,’ and then I redouble my efforts.”
Pouring Pounds success in the UK resulted in recognition and trust from their Indian counterparts. Swati raised USD 750,000 in seed funding from a group of UK based angel investors working for companies like PayPal, Investec, Gumtree.com, and so on. And when she met some of these investors at E100 event, which is an angel investing arm of London Business School, she pitched there for funding for CashKaro and laid the foundation of her dream. Swati also recalls this as one of the most exhilarating part of her journey. “I sent out an email to four of my friends regarding some help with the angel funding for CashKaro. We were looking to raise USD 250K and by the end of the evening, I had about 20 responses from people who were interested. After having back-to-back meetings in 48 hours, we closed a round of USD 750K.To close funding in only 48 hours was totally incredible and an unforgettable experience.”
Swati’s journey is nothing less than an inspiration. When asked about how she felt about her accomplishments, and the one person she could not have done without, Swati says, “As an entrepreneur with two successful running entities in two different countries and being ranked among the top women entrepreneurs in India is definitely a great boost. I feel humbled for all the success that God has bestowed on me.
However, I don’t think I would be here today without my husband – Rohan’s support. His unmatched zeal for work is inspiring and motivates me to work harder and keep going. It’s also easier to manage work and home simultaneously when your husband understands the pressure of your job.”
It has been rightly said, when love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. With her husband, Rohan Bhargava, she found a place to turn her dreams into reality.
“Perseverance is the Essence”, she says. Inspired by her mother, Swati never gave up on her dreams. No matter how difficult it got or how many hardships she faced, she never gave up and kept pushing forward.
“My advice to budding woman entrepreneurs would be ‘Believe in yourself’. Develop a logical & analytical mindset which enables you to break down problems, analyze solutions and optimize, all of which is very handy when you have your own business”