Khaalijeb co-founder Prakash Kumar says that the goal is to build a vast community of students and youth and help brands market to them.

How payments app KhaaliJeb aims to woo youth with its Discount Program
Atom Interview Saturday, February 08, 2020 - 12:04

“Payments and Banking can be quite boring from a youth perspective. Mutual Funds, Liquid Funds etc. are terms that don’t interest them. Payment apps are cluttered in terms of UI/UX. For brands and merchants, we are a discovery and marketing platform. We drive sales for merchants and help them engage with students and youth, the mobile-first consumers. We make payments and banking simple, fun, and extra rewarding,” says Prakash Kumar.

Prakash is one of the founders of KhaaliJeb, a UPI based payments and banking app that is focussed on students and youth. 

The idea struck Prakash in January 2015 when he was studying at IIIT Allahabad. While he was once heading to his hometown Patna during his college vacation, he took an Ola from the railway station to his home. He was amazed by the smooth payment experience of the money getting deducted from Ola Money.

“The whole payment experience was so smooth and seamless, it made me question, why this can’t be everywhere. It seemed more fascinating, perhaps because I was completely ignorant of the digital payment developments around the world during that time. When I returned to college, I discussed the idea with Aman, Wilson, Sudhanshu and Tahir. They joined in as co-founders,” Prakash recollects.

They started working on KhaaliJeb in March 2016 and after several pivots, launched the app on the Play Store in October 2018.

The current team of the startup has nine members. Prakash admits that the challenges posed by the likes of Paytm, Google Pay etc. are immense.

KhaaliJeb’s entire focus is on the student and youth community. Anyone who is between 16-29 years of age and uses a smartphone is its target customer, which mostly comprises students, youth, and early corporates.

What KhaaliJed primarily offers is discounts across its merchant partners, which include eateries, salons, etc.

Prospective customers (students and youth) first need to register for the Discount Program Membership by uploading their ID.

By visiting the Discount Section of the app, they can then discover nearby eateries and salons listed category-wise along with the discounts offered and visit that merchant to avail the discount. At the time of payment, they simply need to select that merchant from the list. Enter the bill amount. Discount will be applied automatically.

"We are currently live in two categories: Restaurants and Salons. We have partnered with around 400+ eateries and salons of Bengaluru in areas like Koramangala, HSR, Indiranagar, BTM, JP Nagar etc. It’s quite easy to spot our Red and Yellow 50% Discount posters and marketing collaterals in these areas,” says Prakash. 

Prakash claims that most of the well-known restaurants, salons, cafes, pizza joints etc. are running exclusive discounts on KhaaliJeb. The average discount is around 25-30%, and at some outlets it’s flat 50%.  

In the next one year, KhaaliJeb plans to launch the Discount Program in Delhi, Pune and expand the Discount Program into categories such as e-commerce, food ordering, commute, travel, education, entertainment etc. 

KhaaliJeb charges partner merchants around 5-15% commission on the redemption of every discount. It is also mulling introducing a subscription fee for the discount program.

“Sponsored ads, special listings, brand campaigns etc. are a few other options to generate revenue,” Prakash adds.

KhaaliJeb is a bootstrapped startup with funds coming from friends and family. Till now, the company has invested more than Rs 25 lakh in this venture.

As far as traction on the platform is concerned, Prakash says their primary goal since launch has been to improve product and business process flow, and achieve product market fit. “We didn’t focus much on growth. Repeat Rate is an important parameter we currently consider as a growth metric. The monthly repeat rate is more than 40%. More than 20% of our customers have redeemed 5 discounts in a month. With over 30,000 downloads on the Play Store, we have executed more than 1 lakh transactions till now,” he says. 

KhaaliJeb’s next immediate goal is to raise seed funding to expand the team and spend on the marketing of the app.

“A few of the banking products like micro savings, micro credits etc. targeted at youth would be introduced in the app. We will build a vast community of students and youth and help brands market to that community,” says Prakash.

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