A few months back, I wrote a post on how a location-based search engine can make smaller stores relevant. For those who don't know about this product startup, PriceBaba is a location-based search engine which aims to help shoppers search prices of mobile phones in their vicinity.
It certainly helps a lot of folks find the right phones from the right sellers within their cities. Solving real-world problems like this was one that founder Annkur P. Agarwal was faced with when his friends kept asking him similar questions as he was the resident expert on mobile phones and gadgets. That's when PriceBaba was conceptualized.
It now has gone one step above to achieve its goal of solving real-world problems of customers across various cities in India. Earlier this week, the company announced it has raised an investment from 500 Startups and will be joining the next batch of the U.S.-based accelerator in Mountain View, California.
As a shopping intelligence engine. PriceBaba.com currently lists over 400 retail stores across Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, and Pune, focusing on the mobile phone market. The platform provides research data for purchasing a mobile phone and helps shoppers connect with local retailers to complete their purchase.
Earlier this year, the company announced it was backed by a group of angel investors, Karamveer Singh (from Ayush Software), Dinesh Tejwani (Fast Fact Computer Systems), Aditya Mishra (Switchme.in), Ashutosh Rathi (Basil Partners), and Ranjeet Walunj (TheService Solutions). PriceBaba is on track to provide its offering across 10 Indian cities by end-2013.
Annkur was in California this week, but took some time out to chat with me over e-mail and gave me some more insights on what PriceBaba hopes to achieve with the newly added investments. "The fresh injection of funds doesn't change our trajectory much. We are still solving the same and a very tough problem. However, the awesome mentors affiliated with 500 Startups have already added so much to our thought process, the product would evolve rapidly in coming months," he said.
When asked about expanding to various other categories besides mobile phones, Annkus said India's mobile market is huge, with over 240 million mobile phones sold every month. If the company see an opportunity to value-add with other categories, it would do so, he said. "However, we would want to do one thing at a time and do it well," he noted, adding that the startup's goal for now is to reach 10 Indian cities by 2013.
Certainly it looks like this investment from 500 Startups will help PriceBaba.com achieve its primary goal of moving faster toward expanding their product across India. But it would also provide a lot of mentoring from the 500 Startups team to flesh out the product to be better and able to do its job fast enough to help users in the 10 Indian cities PriceBaba.com is targeting to be in by year-end.
Essentially, investment aside, now that it is part of 500 Startups' fall Batch 6, this would mean a lot of value in terms of mentoring and more inputs from the U.S. seed accelerator. Of course the investment would mean expansion of the PriceBaba team and putting in the funds to reach out to retailers in various Indian cities, investing time and money, and investing in a robust system to ensure all this happens within 2013.
Pankaj Jain, a mentor of 500 Startups, was also gungho about the way Pricebaba has shaped up and had this to say about the Indian startup: "PriceBaba is an awesome team and they're solving a real need in India. Most people search online and do their purchases offline. PriceBaba is making this easier for Indian customers, and is also giving local merchants the much needed exposure they are looking for."
So far PriceBaba's drive has been pretty successful with a good amount of traction in the cities it's in--Mumbai, Pune, and Gurgaon. If you're keen to join the team, Annkur tells me the company is always hiring so check out the company's careers page.