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2014
As appeared in The Hindu Business Line  Jessu John

QwikCilver
managed 500 crore transactions on gift cards across all retailers and partners in last fiscal. Well-thought-out ideas offer investors the incentive to fund at the seed stage. It is widely perceived that seed capital is hard to come by for entrepreneurs in India. We’ve also discussed here previously how product development and manufacturing receiving support and investment are going to be good for this economy. A good number of reports and books published on early-stage funding as well as conversations with various stakeholders reveal relatively mature ecosystems have more seed capital available than entrepreneurs here enjoy. In early February, we looked at how BrizzTV attracted interest and commitment from Ojas Venture Partners. The start-up had displayed deep thinking and had a sound plan for leveraging the power of the television platform in India. The core & beyond QwikCilver Solutions, a technology product platform company, is another enlightening case.

The company is in the business of providing end-to-end stored-value-card solutions to its retail and corporate customers. What QwikCilver seems to have addressed early on is the question of how it will go beyond developing a solution and actually grow its connect with end-consumers. According to Chief Marketing Officer Pratap TP, QwikCilver now services nearly 90 per cent of the retail sector, especially department stores such as Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and Westside and also brands such as Flipkart, Yahoo! and PVR Cinemas. “The DNA of the organisation is technology, but we also took on the mantle of category creation and distribution for our clients. Our clients are actually our partner brands. From design, procurement and warehousing of cards to enabling digital gift cards, we’ve thought around all of it,” shares Pratap. Since kicking off operations in early 2009, QwikCilver has received three rounds of funding from Helion Venture Partners and Accel Partners. Prashant Prakash, Partner at Accel Partners, says: “What we like about QwikCilver is that their value-proposition was razor-sharp. They saw the large opportunity in gifting very early and over the last five years have grown to be the largest provider of gifting solutions in the retail and corporate space. QwikCilver is now a technology-cum-consumer business because they’ve built direct touch points with customers.” Keeping investors hooked QwikCilver’s Pratap admits that in spite of retail being perceived as a sunrise sector, the first two years were difficult just because of natural sales cycles in the beginning.

The company has seen 300 per cent growth year-on-year for the gift card category. Although the department stores give QwikCilver large returns, the growth in the e-commerce sector with Myntra, Flipkart and others has been sizeable. QwikCilver managed 500 crore transactions on gift cards across all retailers and partners in the last financial year. Four million cards across 300 cities and points of sale even in non-metros is the company’s latest count. As a next step, QwikCilver is keenly looking at the mobile platform. “With mobile platforms becoming open to gift cardholders and access to a variety of gifting instruments becoming possible, the gifting market will grow. “As investors, we tend to get in at the seed stage. So, with most of our investments, we go in early and stay for about 10 years,” says Accel India’s Prakash, indicating the firm is in no rush to exit QwikCilver. If anything, these stories show investors are not averse to seed investments. Some of them are even seen to be displaying commitment for the longer haul. It’s important that entrepreneurs think deeper about the strength of their ideas.
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2014
Qwikcilver Solutions has expanded its base into the organized restaurant business and has tied up with restaurant chain brand called BlueFoods. Blue Foods (Pan India Food Solutions Private) has brands like Spaghetti Kitchen, Copper Chimney, Gelato Italiano, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Bombay Blue, Noodle Bar, Food Courts – Food Talk and Spoon. The association will lead the gifting industry for the restaurant lovers and foodies in India. QwikCilver already has a longstanding association with close to 150 leading brands of the country. Be it corporate meetings, teenage hangouts, Ladies’ lunch getaways; restaurants and cafes are increasingly becoming an ideal way of indulgence and lifestyle necessity. The customers can experience a variety of gourmet experience across various BlueFoods restaurants. These Gift Cards can easily be activated with a minimum payment of Rs 500 and even reloaded at any of the restaurant brands across India making it the most preferred choice among specialty dining. CEO of Blue Foods, Mr. KS Narayanan, while expressing his pleasure; adds, “Bluefoods has consistently strived to provide a great dining experience to all its guests through its various restaurant brands in Spaghetti Kitchen, Copper Chimney, Noodle Bar, Bombay Blue, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in multiple locations in different cities and is today one of the leading players in the Restaurant and Cafe space. Addressing the need for a Gift card for our valued guests who can use it across any of the restaurant brands in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Pune, Chennai, brought us together with QwikCilver who are pioneers in the field of gift cards.They not only bring domain expertise but are also spread across different categories. They gave us the possibility to bring our multiple brands under a single product making it an interesting option for consumers to go and dine in any of the restaurant formats. Bluefoods thus hopes to reach a larger audience with this fantastic product with QwikCilver”. Mr. Pratrap TP, Co-Founder and CMO, QwikCilver Solutions, says, “This association is both significant and exciting for us. BlueFoods being one of the finest restaurant chains will help us widen our spectrum into the hospitality domain. Consumers would be able to buy these Blue Foods Gift Cards online from anywhere in India from GiftBig.com – India’s largest Gift Card online Mall. An ideal way of celebrating one’s special occasion is usually a fine dining experience and with BlueFood’s varied brands, we are hoping the gift card becomes as preferred as other categories”. Source: Indiainfoline
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2014
BANGALORE: As Indian consumers reach out for the convenience of gift cards, it is creating opportunity for a number of new ventures with services that link retailers with those looking to expedite their search for the perfect gift. These companies offer gift cards in a variety of formats — from digital cards with codes that can be presented at a merchant store to those that can be used at multiple retail locations. “Last minute gifting is always a headache for people. With solutions such as digital gift cards and Facebook gift cards, customers can send out gifts to friends and family instantaneously,” said TP Pratap, chief marketing officer at QwikCilver Solutions. The venture set up in 2008 by engineers from the Birla Institute of Technology including Pratap, Bhaskar Vasudevan and Kumar Sudarsan began with a seed investment of Rs 30 lakh. “We sell about 19,000 gift cards a year, which contribute to about 4 per cent of our overall revenue. The gift card business for us has been growing at a rate of up to 40 per cent every year,” said Sanjay Bhattacharjee, retail head at Titan IndustriesBSE -1.53 %. QwikCilver, backed by venture funds Helion Ventures and Accel Partners supplied gift cards worth over Rs 100 crore in fiscal 2013 and expects the number to go upto Rs 500 crore this year. The company receives a commission of anywhere between 1 to 2 per cent of the total gift card value.
While market estimates place the value of the Indian gift card industry at Rs 9,000 crore, investors said it still has to grow much larger to reach a global level. “Global gift card companies such as BlackHawk Network Holdings are already billion dollar plus companies. We expect similar growth in Indian gift card segment as well,” said Kanwal Singh, senior MD, Helion Ventures whose fund has invested in Qwikcilver.
The rise in organised retail and e-commerce is also contributing to demand for these cards. For the Facebook generation, QwikCilver has launched a Facebook app that lets people buy and send digital gift cards, without even knowing their Facebook friend’s email address.”The receiver receives a notification about the gift. Once the person accepts the gift, he is taken to our portal where he receives the details about the digital gift card,” said Pratap. It also offers digital gift ca .. For example, Titan, one of the clients for QwikCilver lets customers purchase digital gift cards from giftbig.com, the gift card portal for the company. The card then can be presented at a Titan outlet by showing the mail on the mobile or by presenting a print out of the digital voucher.”Gift cards make things transparent. Tracking customer purchases has been made easy and we can develop marketing campaigns around it,” Titan’s Bhattacharjee said.
Source: The Economics Times
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2014
The art of Gift giving has been a tradition across cultures. Confusions, doubts, uncertainties often cloud minds while purchasing gifts. To make the process simpler, QwikCilver Solutions has pioneered a unique Gift card technology for smart Indian customers. With Gift cards of fixed price value issued by a retailer, buyers can easily present them to their friends , families or even clients in place of a physical product or cold cash. One can say, it is replacing gift vouchers of last decade. To delve a little deeper into their partners and programs, Pratap TP, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, QwikCilver Solutions helped gain insight. Founded in 2008-09, the company has grown significantly to command a 90% market share in the Gift card category. It is growing at the rate of 120% year on year. The B2B corporates across large enterprises and SMEs have been the largest adopters of the service and solutions, with over 70% of consumption in these segments. Trying to be Popular “Subsequent to the successful deployments of the QwikCilver Gift Card Technology Product Suite by the direct Go To Market strategy, the channel partner network has been re-branded and enhanced with the GiftBig Gift Card channel network to include SMEs, large corporate enterprises, social media Facebook Gifting platform and ecommerce portals, resellers, rewards Partners, HR Consultancies,” adds Pratap TP. The Southern region has performed quickest in adopting the channel partner network till date. On the enterprise network, the NCR & Mumbai regions have been quick to adopt the product platform. The network currently has seen the adoption of over 4 million cards across 10,000 points of sale for more than 100 leading brand partners. Gift Now! GiftBig Insta-Gift is the revolutionary Instant gifting solution pioneered by QwikCilver with numerous advantages to both the retailers and the end-consumers. It is the e-tailing brand portal also known as India’s first fully integrated online gift card mall. GiftBig Insta-Gift Cards can be ordered online and can be redeemed immediately by the recipient at the nearest brand outlet or online website. It allows the consumer to add a personal text message and a photo to the E-gift card. These are perfect for last minute gifting. E-Gift Cards are virtual gifts, so much faster than the actual Gifts that involve courier and handling logistics. Lastly, E-Gift Cards are an environmentally friendly gift choice. “Our study shows that 65% of E-gift cards are redeemed within a month of purchase,” says Pratap TP. The GiftBig InstaGifts Program is a unique differentiator that has been launched exclusively by QwikCilver. Insta-Gifts are E-Gift cards that are delivered to the recipient instantaneously via e-mail. Source: DQ Channels
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2014
Qwikcilver, India’s pioneering & leading Gift Card Technology company is set to take the next big leap this festive season. Qwikcilver who currently enjoys 90% market share in the Gift Card processing technology segment is projecting this segment to sell 30 lakh Gift Cards this coming festive season. The last fiscal year, the company reported a category sales of 25 lakh Gift Cards and this year it is projecting to further leverage this growing trend and driving sales of over 30 lakh gift cards. Despite the slowdown in the economy and the falling rupee, Qwikcilver and its other initiatives continue to aim high. The company is certain about achieving their aims owing to the trusted retailers an brands adopting this category; various denominations and the extensive variety of brands available under Qwikcilver that are custom made to suit every pocket size. Gift cards are available from Rs 200 going up to Rs 50,000 depending on the retail category. Qwikcilver is funded by well-established Venture-Capitalist firms, Helion Venture Partners and Accel Partner. Founded in 2008 by Indian Retail and IT Industry professionals from BITS-PIlani-IIM, the robust Qwikcilver Gift Card Platform manages more than 100 India’s leading brands and corporates. The bourgeoning Gift card market has shown a 300 percent growth over the last fiscal. The Qwikcilver gift card programs have been deployed across more than 300 Indian cities in over 6,000 premium brand outlets and portals and are growing constantly. The company has launched all variants of gift cards in India – plastic physical gift cards, virtual gift cards, mobile-based gift cards. In terms of the target market, psycho graphically the core consumers are urban-city dwellers who love gifting the freedom of choice to their near and dear ones. Mr. Pratap TP, Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Qwikcilver Solutions adds, “Over the last three years, the festive season off-take of gift cards has seen a spike ranging from 150 to 200 percent across retail categories. Brands and retailers have also driven the off-take by making their gift cards increasingly available with better merchandising, visibility, and packaging with gifting themes to suit the festive occasions. The uplift witnessed by retailers through their respective gift card programs range from 150 percent to as high as uplift of 400 percent. This makes the gift card a key driver and strategic part of the product portfolio.” Commented Kumar Sudarsan, Co-Founder & Director, “Qwikcilver has established trust & credibility with long-term strategic partnerships with India’s leading brands and retailers such as Tata – Trent, Titan, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Reliance Brands, Cafe Coffee Day, Shoppers Stop, HUL-Bru Cafe, Landmark, Lifestyle, Starbazaar, Westside, Flipkart, Makemytrip, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel, Satya Paul, Peter England, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Louis Philippe, Arvind Brands, TTK Prestige, Raymond, Celio, Hidesign, Holii, Puma, Calvin Klein, French Connection, Arrow, William Penn, Pavers England, Sapna Book House, Fastrack, PVR Cinemas, Helios, Starmark, Titan Eye Plus, Viveks, YLG, O2Spa, Mast Kalandar, Babyoye, Yepme, and Printo among others”. The company also runs an online gift card portal GiftBig.com, the e-tailing brand portal also known as “India’s first fully integrated online gift card mall” It has also grown to become India’s most preferred destination for gift card fans of over100 trusted brands. The portal has now launched “Instagifts”, an instant gifting innovation for anywhere in the country Source: The Techpanda
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This Company offers gift card solutions to retailers, unlike gift vouchers, gift cards can be both partly spent by the receiver & regifted by topping it up. Already, retailers such as World of Titan & Landmark book stores have rolled it out nationally.
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Qwikcilver Brings India’s First Round Table for Retailer Branded Gift & Prepaid Cards The First Qwikcilver Round Table for Gift Cards & Prepaid cards was held in Bangalore at Hotel Oberoi on 18th August, 2010. The attendees included various CEOs & CXOs from large retail players including Raghu Pillai, Pradipta Mohapatra ( Ex-Chairman RPG Retail), Business Heads from Shoppers Stop, Trent, Titan, Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd, Mantri Square Mall Management team etc. The Round Table had a session by Professor Dan Horne, respected as Gift Card Guru in the US. Prof Horne is the Chief Knowledge Officer of Global Prepaid Exchange, and is based in Boston. Prof Horne was impressed by the spread of categories and brands partnered by Qwikcilver in the short period since inception. He shared his experience of the global markets and the acceptance of the Gift card category by consumers world over. The US, Europe & Australia have increasingly seen the growth of the Gift card category – and consumers prefer branded Gift cards as the single most preferred gifting choice. The key reason for the growth of this category in the western markets – has been for the convenience and freedom given by the Gift giver to the Gift recipient – wherein, the recipient gets to choose the product of his/her choice. Himanshu Chakrawarti, COO Trent-Landmark, shared his experiences on the successful launch of the Landmark Gift Card program by Qwikcilver – across all their stores and online portal.Himanshu shared the positive response from consumers and the unique occasions that the Landmark Gift Cards are being used for. The new Dora brand Landmark Gift Card has been a good draw with children. Ajoy Chawla, Global Business Head, Titan, conveyed that consumers have seen the Titan Gift Card program as an innovative extension of the positive brand experience at their exclusive Showrooms. The Titan franshisees have also seen significant improvement in their operational efficiency and has aided in the speedy settlement of franchisee expenses by the HO. Consumers in the cities of Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad have adopted this Titan Gift card for its good technological innovation. Raghu Pillai, President & CEO, Reliance Retail, expressed that the Gift Card category would have advantages in specific categories. The benefit of distribution through Third party outlets would also be witnessed with appropriate processes for the Indian markets. Pradipta Mohapatra, Former Chairman, RPG Retail, chaired the panel discussion where he highlighted the heterogeneous nature of the Indian market. At the same time, he believes the advantages of the Gift Card category and the robust Qwikcilver technology Platform would significantly benefit the Indian brands too. Source: Qwikcilver
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Taking cognisance of the paradigm shift in the consumer behaviour in the urban landscape of the country with the advent of plastic money, companies across the board have struck upon a novel idea — the ‘Gift cards.’ Gift cards have become part of the customer loyalty programmes where they are induced to buy as loyal customers of brands of their choice. Loyalty programmes enable retailers to sell more and also helps customer to earn points that can be redeemed for a wide variety of rewards. Besides getting points, these cards also provide privileges like an invite for the preview of a sale, getting special entertainment or a cricket match ticket, etc. QwikCilver Bangalore-based firm, which specialises in stored value card solutions, had, about three years ago, developed and launched its flexible technology platform that facilitates retailers to create newer custom gift card products and change the promotional behaviour of the products. QwikCilver has, in the last three years tied-up with varied retailers from different sectors, including Titan (watches), PVR (cinema), Landmark (books & gifts), Peter England (men’s garments), Planet Fashion (clothes), among others. Speaking to Deccan Herald, QwikCilver Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer T P Pratap said: “Unlike gift vouchers, gift cards can be both partly spent by the receiver and re-gifted by topping it up. And many of our partners have already launched this nationally.” The card, he pointed out, can be used physically over the counter as well as electronically, operating through the websites of the various brands that have associated themselves with QwikCilver. India is following the trend in the international market where brands have moved away from paper voucher to electronic real time vouchers in retail sales. Not a fashion yet Country’s largest watch maker Titan is a major user of Gift card to induce loyalty. Commenting on the Gift Card Titan Watches Retail Head Jaikishen Mehta said: “The response has been encouraging for the channel, and it is being promoted as one of the marketing differentiators. Although customers have not yet got into the habit of buying Gift Cards, it is a trend that is picking up fast.” Though the telecom market has almost entirely moved to pre-paid mode, for other products the usage is still low because the market is yet to develop and the ecosystem is inadequate, said Pratap. Agreed, RewardPort India Chief Marketing Officer Girish Khare, “Currently only the airline and retail sectors are enjoying a relatively good showing at the as far as their loyalty programmes are concerned. However, airports as point of activity are waking up to the potential and are in fact having begun launching their programmes.” PAYBACK (earlier known as i-mint) India’s first multi-partner loyalty programme has a member base of over 10 million and over 1,500 partner outlets in India, CEO & MD Vijay Bobba said “The market potential in India is huge and coalition loyalty clearly is the way forward in India. With an estimated size of US$ 350 billion today, India’s retail industry alone has reached critical mass.” With a number of foreign players entering the country, the loyalty market is expected to become very active and is expected to grow at growth rate of 20 per cent. Brands are also using mobile as a medium for loyalty schemes as Accentiv COO Ashok M S said “Mobiles eliminates the need for a card and also brings in greater cleanliness to customer contact data, making communication easy.” Source: Deccan Herald
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