Sudhir Ahluwalia

Sandeep Sangli was fond of his beer. He went to a local pub in Bengaluru, India. He liked the beer and its flavor. He liked it so much that he wanted to gift it to his friend. The option available to him was to buy a pint and personally take it to his friend’s home. But his friend is located out of Bengaluru.

The other option was to send his friend a note recommending the pub. He did not like that idea too. He wanted his friend to enjoy the drink and he wanted to pay for it. There was no mechanism for him to do that.

Akshay Ananth was a friend who worked in the same advertisement and marketing firm as Sandeep did. Both wanted to start something on their own. They wanted to be their own bosses. Their innovation and can do spirit was not getting the space they wanted as an employee. They were bubbling with energy. They had also saved a bit of cash over the past six or seven years. They were both fond of food, beer and the start up city of Bengaluru, India.

They discussed the beer pint dilemma over a pint or two. Finally they concluded they will build a voucher gifting app which will help them gift to their friends food, drink and even a spa experience.

Easteregg Team

This was a couple of years back. The idea of Easteregg was thus then born. Akshay Ananth the CEO of Easteregg startup narrated this story to me when we met in Bangalore last month. As Akshay spoke, I observed that how simple was the idea. It addresses a simple need.

The need for good food is universal. Not all can afford to go to a Michelin star establishment. And we do want to share good things with friends, lovers, family, bosses or for fun.

Having spent now over decades in the technology industry, I notice so many people wanting to break out of day in day out of coding, travelling on planes, spending weeks, months and sometimes years far away from home in alien cities doing the same job over and over again. Many want to start something on their own. They want their creative juices to flow freely. They want to be free to create, build something new and enjoy the success, failures and pitfalls.

There were close to 500 such entrepreneurs of all ages from students still at university to others who have spent a decade and sometimes more in the tech industry.  There were a few things common amongst this group of unique people – zest, drive, innovation and never say die spirit. They were all bubbling with new ideas.

Not all of them will succeed though. It is not just a good idea, or funds, or great technical skills or even great book keeping capability that make a business succeed. Business has to be customer centric, the leader should have management skills, has the ability of selecting the right people, surrounds himself with people smarter than him and with different skills and capabilities. Above all knows leader should know how to lead and get the best out of the team.

Ananth and Sandeep probably fall in this category. They have collected a team of hackers, web experts and have created an app. I met the team in their office in Bangalore. The atmosphere appeared relaxed, people were working on their own. The overall environment was busy but not oppressive. This team appeared to have a good chance of succeeding.

Ananth has incorporated his startup in Singapore. He found incorporation of his company in  India too bureaucratic. I was told that things are improving now with the increased emphasis on startups from the Narendra Modi Government of India. Ananth was hopeful of getting the India company incorporation concluded shortly.

Entire development of the app has been done in India. While the business climate in Singapore is superior, the availability of quality tech manpower at reasonable prices is much better in India. Easter egg  is a 17 people strong company and that includes the founders.

The app development has taken 6 months. It has been built on an open source platform. The core development team is 8 people strong. Two of the developers are working for the venture pro bono. They too find the Easteregg business model exciting. These two have been given a stake in the company.

The app will be available on Android, IOS and web platforms. The launch of the app will be done in Singapore in April. Payment gateway Stripe has been signed on in Singapore. For India, multiple payment gateways will be incorporated on the app. This will be done as soon as India incorporation challenges are sorted.

Forty six quality establishments in food, drink and spa segments in Bangalore have signed onto the platform. Vendor partners have been selected on their customer rating and personal recommendations of friends. Twenty six vendors have joined in Singapore too.

In order to maintain exclusivity and ensure only quality vendors join, Ananth and team have decided to limit the number of vendors that can sign in a city to 100.

The revenue model is commission from sale. The company is looking to expand the service to Dublin and London by end of 2016. The founders have currently invested into the venture from their own funds. They are scouting for funding. The ingredients for success are all there. I would love to stay in touch with this team and see how far they go.

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