We are focusing on improving our stand in the industry: Puneet Gupta, Founder and CEO, AstroTalk
In an exclusive interview with BW Disrupt, the founder and CEO of AstroTalk, Puneet Gupta talks about inception of the company, astrology as a business, future plans and more.
After working with an investment bank for 4 years & running an IT services company for 3 years, Puneet, who never believed in Astrology all his life, started Astrotalk when an Astrologer predicted his life events for the next 2 years in 2015 and it all came out to be true later.
1. Brief us about your business model like how did the idea came to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
It all started in 2015 when I was first introduced to the authentic side of astrology as before that I had only experienced bogus astrologers who’d take money and con innocent people. It was my colleague from my current organization who suggested that she could help me in taking one of the crucial decisions of my life, resigning from my job. She then gave a detailed analysis of my following years saying I could resign now, and the next 2 years will be fulfilling. However, she also mentioned that my business partner might leave post that and I would have to face bankruptcy. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the prophecy and went on with my life anyway.
Post two years, what happened was exactly what was predicted. This was one of the many turning points in my life which gave me an idea to do something for this industry. Three weeks from that realization, I started AstroTalk.
We are a go-to website for a wide range of occult sciences such as Vedic astrology, Nadi Astrology, Numerology, Prashna Astrology, Palmistry, Tarot Reading, Gemology Vasthu and KP Astrology. Currently, we have more than 1000 astrologers onboard who help millions of clients with online consultation through calls and chatbot. For every new customer, AstroTalk offers first free consultation, post which the sessions are chargeable on a per-minute basis.
2. What are the unique key points of your company?
Astrology is a customer-oriented industry and yet not many astrologers or service providers care about their customers’ future. Its very easy to dupe people here and pretend to forecast about their future. With AstroTalk, I wanted to negate the situation and introduce genuine astrologers to the business. We are proud to call ourselves a customer-obsessed company as we care more about our customers’ future and safety than our profits. In fact, we have a very high repeat customer rate of 13 on annual basis, which is the highest amongst any industry.
3. How are you different from the existing competitors?
As I already mentioned from the end-user point of view we are very concerned about our customers. Our customer support team is on their feet 24x7 and ensure all queries are resolved within the given TAT period. Apart from that, we also give a lot of emphasis on hiring the best Astrologers from the lot. There is a 4-level check before we finalize any Astrologer and then once they are selected, our in-house team monitor their performance for the first 30 days. If there is a lack of skill set, we make them sit through another round of training with our Quality team. Our backend tools observe their performance for a month and with our specialized software checks, rank their profile among 1000 other astrologers.
4.What is the funding status and monetization model?
Initially, we built AstroTalk from whatever we had earned from our previous company, without taking any external support. The monetization model is also very simple, as we charge our customers for connecting with an Astrologer online, post their one complementary session and every chat or call is charged on a per-minute basis.
5. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
There are many challenges in our industry. Starting from difficulty in gaining people’s trust to ensuring the Astrologers we hire are authentic and do not participate in any malpractices. Then, we people who yet not have a clear understanding of what power do our occult sciences hold. I was one of them so that gives me an edge in making AstroTalk more relatable to the non-believers.
6. How has been the people`s response so far?
For those who believe in the real power of Astrology, they have very kind to AstroTalk. We are not only running a business where we connect the customer to an Astrologer, but, we also strive hard to solve their life problems on a daily basis. We have established an emotional connect with our customers and they have been kind enough to reciprocate it.
7. What are the traction details (like users, app downloads & other achievements of the company)?
Post the COVID-19 crisis, our daily revenue has increased to INR 23 lacs as people are concerned about their job security, relationship status, and the mental conflicts are also on the rise. The total mobile application installs so far are 4.1 Mn and our repeat customer rate is 13 per annum, the highest among any industry.
8. How do you look at expansion?
We are currently focusing on improving our stand in the industry. There is so much to do here and we have barely scratched the surface up until now. Our focus is on making AstroTalk better everyday and we are doing this by regularly taking feedback about the product from our customers and then, spending the profit on our marketing activities so that we can reach more people and help even more.
9. What are your marketing plans?
Our marketing strategy is simple, we offer one free consultation session with our Astrologers so that our brand-new customers gain confidence in our services. Once, they are fully satisfied and if they like to continue using our services, we have a very reasonable fee structure. The free offering is our way of reaching out to more people and informing them about our products and services. With the kind of quality checks and legitimacy we have at AtsroTralk, we feel confident that those one-time users would keep using our services.
10. What has been the biggest learning’s so far?
It will be the fact that Astrology is a business of trust and to build a brand which can be trusted by the customer, is the most important thing.
11. What is the market size and opportunity?
The Indian spiritual and religious market is assessed at $40 billion (Rs 2.97 lakh crore), as per media reports. Out of this, the astrology sector in India alone is at $10 billion (Rs 74,500 crore), with around 2 million astrologers currently practicing. There is a huge opportunity that lies in this sector as not many individuals have courage to provide genuine products and services at reasonable rates.
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