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September 21, 2017

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Meet Quikr, India's very own answer to Craigslist

MUMBAI--An Indian answer to Craigslist is drawing millions of monthly visitors to its website, exchanging everything from used iPads to cows, in a country where second-hand goods have traditionally been sniffed at.

Quikr, a start-up launched in 2008, has become the leading online classifieds portal in India, where the e-retail market is exploding thanks to a vast young population with growing Internet access.

Like Craigslist, Quikr allows users to post ads for free and browse for furniture, apartments, pets and even potential spouses, before closing the deal offline — a system that chief executive and founder Pranay Chulet believes is well suited to India.

"We Indians are very price conscious. And there are peculiarities, like we love to haggle. So I thought a platform like Craigslist for India would make sense," said Chulet.

Today, Chulet says, more than half of Quikr's 3.5 to four million goods listed at any one time find buyers within 90 days — a feat that has helped the firm to attract investments from top private equity firms such as Warburg Pincus.

The firm began life as Kijiji India, a subsidiary of U.S. giant eBay. It was turned into the re-branded separate entity Quikr by Chulet and co-founder Jiby Thomas.

"We want to do things quickly. That is partly where the word Quikr comes from," said Chulet.

He said that leaving customers to seal their deals offline keeps costs low and avoids regulatory hurdles — "I don't have warehouses or people running around making deliveries."

Instead the Mumbai-based firm, present across 900 cities, gets its cash by tapping small businesses to advertise on the site. So far, half a million have paid to be on Quikr, according to Chulet.

Missed Call Strategy

People who want to sell their goods on Quikr but lack Internet access can ring up the firm's call center — or, rather, its "missed call center" — where employees return calls to save the customer costs.

"India loves missed calls. Especially the low income groups like the drivers because the call from our side does not cost them anything," said Chulet.

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