Interview: Founder of Gift Jeenie, Vikram Chopra
Vikram Chopra is a self-starter and a self-unemployed entrepreneur. A pathfinder who specializes in taking concepts to market, having launched several successful products and driven strong user acquisition for multiple tech startups, including his own. A black belt in both judo and pizza eating, he is currently starring in a startup reality TV series.
We sat down with him and asked him some questions about the industry.
How did you get started in doing what you do now?
I was somewhat of a late bloomer and sort of stumbled into Entrepreneurship hence my moniker Self-Unemployed Entrepreneur. I spent the first 5 years of my professional career in Sales, Marketing and Business Development but I was not sure of my calling.
I started doing some consulting on the side to augment my income and learned my first lesson in entrepreneurship- "If you can sell for someone else, you can sell for yourself". What became a side gig evolved into consulting with other startups and so began my journey into entrepreneurship.
Since I could never figure out what I wanted to do in life, I reversed it by going through a process of of elimination what "I did not want to do". 8 years later I have never looked back!
Why did you launch your startup? Why does it matter?
I follow a simple principle- an idea is only as good as your first customer. The concept for Gift Jeenie evolved as I was advising another startup. On behalf of this Startup I was pitching to retailers. This was way back in 2012 when mobile and social media was still at its early stages. Even back then traditional retailers were struggling with how to navigate the digital landscape with fierce competition from players such as Amazon.
The problem we were looking to solve for these retailers is how to help them navigate the online landscape by not only providing them data on who their target customer is, but also provide a platform to reach them.
After the why , came the how? The how evolved into the Gift Jeenie mobile application as our channel to on-board users and acquire data about their shopping preferences. Gift Jeenie brings together online shoppers and e-retailers by enabling users to create Wishlists by adding items from any online retailer and sharing with their loved ones via their preferred social media channels.
What keeps you going when things get tough in your business?
Entrepreneurship is like climbing a mountain. You think you have made great progress only to realize you have only scaled half the mountain.
All you can do is keep going. Successful startups never gave up and kept plugging away no matter how bleak things got. The ones that never made it, all gave up just when they were on the verge of a breakthrough. History shows us that ultimately perseverance will bear fruit.
Name 2-3 things your startup is doing that no one else is?
There are plenty of mobile apps that help you find deals, offer rewards and help you discover trending items. Gift Jeenie is the first app to offer all of the above by giving you a repository to store all you want in one place and share with your loved ones exactly what you want.
What's your next move in your industry?
Gift Jeenie also provides retailers' data on their target customer, and incentives its users by offering Daily Deals and a Cash-back rewards powered by Blockchain. As a natural evolution of where Gift Jeenie is going- we are building an AI-based recommendation engine to drive curated content to our users and greater insight for our retail partners.