Internet, today, has opened up a lot of in-roads for the tech-savvy populace. Whether it may be search or shopping, offline or online – all information can be gathered within seconds, thereby bringing in a new trend, pushing entrepreneurs into the niche of discovery platforms.

Success of the likes of Zomato, the online restaurant guide, is exemplary in this regard. On similar lines, Shashank Agnihotri has launched Delhi based online apparel discovery platform, Zakoopi (a twisted version of a Polish word that means ‘to shop’).

What does Zakoopi offers?

The platform helps users discover new places to shop offline across 22 local markets in Delhi. Users can check out more than 25 attributes for every store including photographs of products, GPS coordinates, product-wise pricing, customization details, fabrics, styles, etc. In addition, users may get reviews and ratings about each store through fellow user generated feedback.

Zakoopi is building a virtual community of “Shoppers” who are passionate about fashion and shopping. This community would organically develop the content on the website (reviews and ratings) and pull in more and more users.

The revenue model of Zakoopi would be advertisements from store owners. Stores owners will pay a fixed monthly fee to display their advertisements on Zakoopi.

“Unlike e-commerce ventures where revenue starts coming in from the word go, businesses such as ours have a longer gestation period. Revenues typically follow a hockey stick curve. But while most e-commerce models are still struggling with profitability, ours is a much more profitable model, and we expect to break-even in the next 9-12 months,” says Shashank.

Competition and challenges ahead

When asked about the competition, the company claims to have a first mover advantage in the field. “There is no direct competitor to Zakoopi as of yet. Ventures in the extended space like JustDial / Asklaila are purely directory listings, while others like Wooplr are unstructured product sharing sites,” he said.

The team believes that in the coming weeks, the key challenge for them is to be nimble and to keep improving the discovery experience for users. Hence, their focus right now is to keep track of user behaviour and continuously innovate to improve the product.

Traction so far and Future Plans

Since it’s launch in late June earlier this year, the site is currently doing over 25,000 monthly site visits (and increasing), while the team is still in the process of rolling out a mobile version.

They plan to launch Zakoopi in Mumbai and Bengaluru next and the platform is further expected to be launched in 12 cities of India over the next 2 years. The rollout would start towards the end of this fiscal year.

The investment into the venture has been close to INR 7 lakhs so far. However, Shashank is in talks with angel / seed investors with plans for faster expansion.

Opportunity in the space

With ecommerce estimated to reach USD 70 Bn by 2020 in the country, offline retailers will be requiring channels to showcase their presence online. In India, just a meagre 5 Mn people shop online, as per a recent report. The rest of the internet savvy population prefers search and comparison, while making purchases offline. Thus, the role of product discovery platforms comes in handy.

When it comes to fashion retail, then Technopak estimates this space to reach USD 40 Bn by 2023, having an 8 percent share in India’s total retail market.

In terms of investment too, this segment has attracted decent funding, the recent being INR 30 crore raised by online price comparison site, Zopper from Tiger Global. Other portals in this space catering to different niche are Travel Triangle, Findable, etc. thus creating a huge oppurtunity for platforms like Zakoopi to grow.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.