He is just four years into his start-up, but Ravitej Yadalam has already made a name for himself.
Ravitej Yadalam registered his first website at age 13 and sold his first product online (a cell phone) at 18. Actually he didn’t have a cell phone to sell. The buyer was from Germany and once Ravitej received the money from his customer, he bought a phone and shipped it. And saved quite a bit for himself.
Learning from examples
Now the founder and CEO of Pennyful.com, a cash-back company that is a part of wholly-owned subsidiary Eze Get Online Inc. (Wilmington, DE), Ravitej says “This showed me early that the Internet breaks barriers of geography, and that there is great room on the web for creative and innovative business strategies.”
Launched in 2010, Pennyful.com was the result of Ravitej’s realisation that products sold well through a third party when they tied up with established brands. “The Pennyful.com model is an online platform that actually pays customers to shop on our site,” he says. “Even though the cash back and loyalty shopping industry in the U.S is exploding, we realised that by creating efficient technology and providing high levels of customer satisfaction, we would have a significant edge over our competitors.”
Pennyful.com has more than 1500 partners like Sony, Macy’s, Adidas and more. Encouraged by its success, he launched Pennyful.in in 2011, which became an even bigger success. The Indian site won accolades from E-Summit and The Indus Entrepreneurs (a non-profit trade group dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship). “At Pennyful, we constantly innovate to find new and better ways to make smart shopping more rewarding and more convenient for our users,” says Ravitej. “We are testing various tools and services that make the shopper’s life easier and more rewarding. This sets us apart from the rest.”
Despite online shopping making inroads in India, cash-back shopping is relatively a new concept. “Since e-commerce is a fairly new way of shopping for the average Indian consumer, educating the customer takes longer,” says Ravitej. “But once the customer shops through us and once the cash-back money get into their bank account, they’re hooked.” It’s a win-win situation not only for the customers, but also for their merchant partners and themselves. Pennyful has created a niche shopping model that will truly appeal to the average Indian consumer.
As a 25-year-old entrepreneur, Ravitej has struck the balance between passion and rational reasoning. “As an entrepreneur today, the world is truly at your fingertips, both for knowledge and as a market whose problems you can really solve.”