As appeared in Khaleej Times on 29 May 2017 by Rohma Sadaqat
Choosing a gift for someone can be a complicated task, as a lot of thought is put into ensuring that you ultimately give them something that they appreciate.
This has led to many buyers opting to purchase a gift card as it minimises the hassle of searching for the perfect gift, and also leaves the choice of gift up to the receiver. The popularity of gift cards has only grown in recent years across the world, and provided players in the industry with a very valuable ecosystem. Qwikcilver, a technology product company pioneering end-to-end gift card and stored-value-card solutions for retail customers, has been riding the wave for many years now, both in India and most recently in the UAE.
With its flexible SaaS platform and in house capabilities, Qwikcilver manages the entire gift card programmes of retailers including design, storage, and transactions pertaining to it. Co-founder and chief marketing officer, Pratap TP, says the company has established and is leading 90 per cent of the gift card market in India. “Qwikcilver is the only provider of end to end solutions that address the technology, business, e-commerce, corporate distribution, and social commerce needs, as well as the omnichannel presence for brands and retailers. Qwikcilver has always tried to bridge their partnered brands and the consumers through technology.”
Asked about how the idea for Qwikcilver came to be, Pratap said that the company had been mapping the consumer needs for gifting and the existing state of retail markets across key markets, later embarking on changing the way gifting is enabled across the retail environment. The company established itself by mapping the needs of the market at every stage, thereby, ensuring that the needs of the ecosystem are pro-actively pioneered across more than 20 consumption segments for gifting.
The company was founded in Bangalore, India, in 2008, before making its foray into the UAE market in 2015, when it was selected as a gift card technology partner at the Middle East Retail Forum in Dubai. The company soon launched a gift card programme with Sharaf DG, Novo Cinemas, and Al Futtaim.
The biggest challenge that the company faced, Pratap says, was driving adoption at multiple levels – enterprise level, business unit level, cross functional level, and ultimately by the consumer.
“The excitement for a startup is only triggered by the complexity of the game on hand. The pavement pounding over the years and the confidence reposed in our platform and by our customers through the years has driven our mission,” he said.
The company has entered the GCC market with the intent of providing cutting edge technology for gift cards to brands and corporate groups across the region.
“Our intent is also supported by the fact that we have recently set up office in Dubai. This will boost our scaling up strategic partnerships with the leading and most trusted conglomerates and brands. We are now working on scaling up this presence with a local presence and a dedicated team in GCC to support and expand this fast growing market for Qwikcilver. This would be our first overseas foray outside India. This office will service existing clients as well as work on growing the business in the GCC region,” Pratap disclosed. Qwikcilver’s unique approach has helped them attract investors, who are eager to see what the company has planned for the future. “The commitment and pioneering role of Qwikcilver in establishing its strong leadership of the prepaid and gift card industry has been truly unique. The strong credentials and passionate team has helped build and grow a robust SaaS product company based from India,” said Kirill Kozhevnikov, MD of Insitel/Sistema Asia Fund Advisory.
Pratap noted that the company will continue to work closely with its investors, and had recently closed a fund raise that will ensure the company’s scaling initiatives over the next two years. The Qwikcilver Technology Platform is currently deployed across the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Egypt across a number of companies and consumer brands in the fashion retail, electronics retail, hypermarkets/supermarkets, luxury retail, and entertainment spaces. The company is currently working to launch innovative gift card programs for leading hotels, fashion retailers, and e-commerce brands in Middle East in the coming months.
“We would continue to work closely with our investors, who are reputed on the global markets,” Pratap said. “We are honoured to have their backing and confidence in the proposition for the long term. We have recently closed a fund raise that will ensure the scaling initiatives over the next two years. We are also constantly innovating to suit the consumer needs and also ensure that brands have all the means to reach their respective target audience.”
Asked what advice he would like to pass on to the new start-ups of today, he said: “Stay passionate; build a sustainable long term vision and business; and stay humble, stay hungry, and stay strong.”