Founded on 15 August 2012 by Varun Sheth along with Zaheer Adenwala and bollywood actor Kunal Kapoor, Ketto is a Mumbai based crowdfunding platform focusing mainly in social domain. With celebrity support, the platform wants to connect individuals and brands with fundraisers and enables entrepreneurs to raise funding and increase awareness.
It acts like an online support network working to bring individuals closer to the cause they wish to support. Supported by organizations like Google Grants, London Business school, kwan.in and few others, Ketto also helps the non-profits to raise funds for supported and listed causes by connecting them to companies and individuals alike.
We caught up with Varun Sheth, CEO, Ketto.org, to know more about his online platform, reasons behind the launch, its working, the type of projects listed and his views on entrepreneurship and Indian startup ecosystem.[Edited Excerpts]
Inc42: What was the main idea behind launching Ketto?
Varun: The main thought was how to get all the young people in India with so much disposable income and spending so much time online to give back and do some social good. We also wanted to make charity/giving back fun and engaging and move away from the traditional methods which were just dull and boring.
Inc42: Why did you choose the “social” domain for a crowdfunding platform? What were the motivational factors behind it?
Varun: This thought was not a strategic move but we just couldn’t find a good domain in the .com space and we didn’t have the budget to buy one. After .com, .org is the most used tld globally and has a global appeal and Ketto is a global network with over 40% of its user base from outside India
Inc42: How Kunal Kapoor joined you in?
Varun: Kunal is someone I met couple of years back. He was working on a similar idea and we knew someone in common who made us meet and after over months of discussion we decided to jump into this together.
Inc42: Can you please explain us the entire process of fundraising?
Varun: It’s pretty simple we have over 50 NGO projects listed on the platform and continuously adding more across various causes(sports,education, animal welfare etc) so a user can go online pick a project..start a fundraising page for the project (usually take a minute) and share the page within his/her network and get everyone to give back starting with as less Rs 100
Inc42: What were the key challenges in your front while developing the platform?
Varun: Lack of good payment gateways available in India, very high drop rates. Offline PG/cash pick ups have a limited reach in India Unable to find the right UX and UI managers to continuously improve the experience
Inc42: What has been the traction as of now? How many campaigns have been crowd funded?
Varun: We have crowdfunded over 30 campaigns and raised over 45 lacs. The traction has been very favourable in the last 6 months. Especially for causes in Education & Sports.
Inc42: What is the largest amount as of now any campaign has raised?
Varun: INR 10 lacs for sending Shiva Keshavan to the Winter Olympics.
Varun: We have projects across 10 causes which includes- (water, sports, education, children, women’s empowerment, health and sanitation, malnutrition, environment, disabilities)
Inc42: Any infographics on users who sponsor and support the projects?
Varun: Not yet, but on average 50 percent from outside India and avg ticket size from India is approx 1000 and foreign is approx 3000.
Inc42: Last year you raised funding, how did you induced those funds? Are you planning to raise more?
Varun: Yes we are planning to raise within the next 12 months. The funds being used to build a team and introduce a new version of Ketto and a building a FB community.
Inc42: How are you creating awareness about your platform?
Varun: Word of mouth, some FB Ads, Mailers, SEO. Building good content is the key everything works if you have good campaigns running.
Inc42: Tell us about your monetization model?
Varun: We take a 10% fee on any funds raised. Also looking at bringing in new business models in early 2015.
Inc42: What are your thoughts on entrepreneurship and Indian startup ecosystem?
Varun: Best time to be an entrepreneur, lot of support coming in from across the world and the mind setting is opening up to support and nurture good ideas and people. Lot of great accelerators and incubators also coming up to provide all kinds of assistance and capital. Also, lot of new investors coming in so liquidity also increasing.
Inc42: According to you what are the 5 things startups should keep in mind who are trying to venture in social space?
Varun: A– The gestation period is longer than any other start up Industry.
B– Capital is still tight.
C– You will meet a lot of people who would not understand the concept of a social business so get your teaching skills together.
D– Continuously look at increasing your network outside India- Mentors/investors/customers.
E– If possible don’t stick a social tag to your business. A lot of people tend to stay away from the space.
Inc42: Why Indian startup ecosystem has not seen much innovation in social space, your thoughts on this?
Varun: I am optimistic in that view… I just gave a talk at HBS and I met a lot of people here who want to start social business idea with some really innovative products. Its just that India has just started seeing the conventional start up space boom. I give it another couple of years and you will see a wave of business and innovative ideas launching in India in the social sector.