Are you an avid reader? Looking to buy books online but don’t who offers best deals and prices? Well, with the growth of choices from the likes of Flipkart, ebay, Infibeam, Indiaplaza etc this certainly seems to be on the top of the mind of numerous consumers.
Enter ThisYaThat.com, the latest online book comparison website. The site launched by two Wharton undergrads, Shiv Kapoor (SK) & Aneesh Satnaliwala (AS) and a Colgate University undergrad, Gaurav Ragtah, is the first non-US venture to be awarded an entrepreneurial grant by the Wharton School’s Innovation Fund. Founded in March 2012, it took seven months for the site to reach its current state. And the creative head of ThisyaThat.com, Mansha Mahtani played a pertinent in the same, by designing their simple and intuitive interface.
The genesis of the idea lies in the predicament the founders were put into when they were looking for a not-so-widely-published book while in India during their summer vacations, back in India during May 2012. They had an unpleasant experience ordering from an e-commerce store where two days after receiving a book they found it for cheaper on another website. This lead to the dilemma and realization that there are many different players in the online retail space and almost all of them have different prices and delivery times for the same book. Also, some of them offer the convenience of cash-on-delivery, while others don’t. This is where they felt that they could add value by making the process of buying books much simpler and conceived the idea of ThisYaThat.com.
The site sources meta data of books from Goodreads and searches sites like flipkart, Indiaplaza, Infibeam, Crossword, uRead, landmark etc.
The university undergrads have a tough time shuffling between their studies and their biggest commitment but we at Pluggd got an opportunity to natter with them on their thoughts and the future of ThisyaThat.com. Read on.
1. How is ThisYaThat.com funded?
AS - We initially funded ThisYaThat with our personal savings. We are currently one of a small handful of undergraduate start-ups in the Venture Initiation Program (VIP) of the Wharton School. The VIP program is a non-monetary educational incubator that provides promising young companies with mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs along with other knowledge-based entrepreneurial resources. It has been a great experience for us to be a part of the program.
2. How do you plan to generate revenue from the model?
AS - We earn commissions from the e-commerce retailer that customers choose after comparing prices, delivery times and payment options for a book on ThisYaThat. Our service is completely free to our users who search for these books.
3. One can go directly to these book sites and compare the products…why the need for ThisYaThat.com?
AS - We make the process of buying books more convenient for users. When they search for books on ThisYaThat, we allow them compare results (price and delivery time) across several stores on one page, saving time and effort. We also display which stores accept cash-on-delivery as many consumers prefer using this payment method. We help users discover stores that they may not have heard about previously and our services are absolutely free of cost.
4. Naaptol.com a leading e-commerce company today, also started as a comparison engine. What are your plans?
SK - We are aware of Naaptol and like the work that they do. As of now, there are no plans to go that route. We are focused on being the most convenient place to look for books to buy in India.
5. How do you plan to expand the website? Apart from features. Are you also looking to start selling books?
SK - We have a lot of ideas that we’ve been looking at for some time. The first goal was to launch with the features we have. The next is to see if any of the features requested by our users stands out as one in high demand. We will work on adding those ones first because we take our feedback very seriously.
6. How is ThisYaThat.com being publicized and marketed?
SK - Since we just launched, we are focussed on leveraging social media and other online communication channels and we are happy with the results.
7. What has been the traction so far?
SK - The momentum has been along the lines of what we were aiming for. It would be premature to dive into numbers. However, the reactions have been positive and better than expected.
8. Websites like Koolkart and Indiabookstore already provide comparison features. How are you different?
SK – I think we have a different approach than either of them. Koolkart focuses on the social aspect of shopping, but we don’t believe that you should have to give us access to your social network in order to use ThisYaThat. We also currently focus exclusively on books. As for Indiabookstore, the way we sort and display results are very different to their approach. Everyone has their own preferred way of trying to add value, and it’s up to the user to see which one suits him or her best.
9. How many books can a user compare at one time and what are the available parameters?
SK - When you log on to ThisYaThat.com, you type in the book title, author name or ISBN of a particular book to compare prices, delivery times and payment options across various e-commerce retailers. Or, you could simply click on one of the bestselling books on our home page and get the same information for that book.
10. Where do we see ThisYaThat.com in the next few years?
SK - We are looking forward to seeing how the space pans out, but hopefully we will be playing an important role in it. We would want ThisYaThat to be the first name that comes to someone’s mind when they want to quickly and intuitively find the right place to buy a book in India.
Do give ThisYaThat a spin and share your comments.
Aside, quick spin of the comparison service tells us that sites like Flipkart, Infibeam and Crossword are on the priciest side, while Indiaplaza, SimplyBooks, uRead etc are much more affordable.