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Live with Passion - an interview with Yosha Gupta, Founder of LafaLafa

LafaLafa, an online coupons and cashbacks aggregator allows customers to save on shopping and travel bookings across 500+ stores in Hong Kong, including Zalora; Asos; Macy’s; Bloomingdales; Expedia and Hotels.com. LafaLafa has recently launched in Hong Kong a year after launching its website in India in January 2015. 

Startup life in India

Yosha has been associated with startups in India for over 9 years and describes it as "pulsating and chaotic at the same time." The Indian startup scene is now beginning to focus on efficiency and unit metrics, which are suggestions that she offers to Hong Kong startup co-founders. There is still progress to be made says Yosha, from "improving basic infrastructure issues such as Internet access; making commuting safe and easy and education more relevant". However, the Indian government is focusing more on startups and changes are starting to happen. "Now there are a lot of startup success stories and excitement around starting and launching businesses, which is a welcoming change."

Batch 15 of 500 Startups

LafaLafa is part of the 500Startups accelerator. “Learning from many of the best mentors was an invaluable experience in Silicon Valley,” says Yosha Gupta, Founder and CEO of LafafLafa. She explains that the accelerator is not just providing her startup with a strong network, but effective growth hacking tactics as well. Yosha has had the opportunity to meet with other coupons and cashback players in the Valley, and they shared their thoughts about how they evolved their businesses. "A combination of a good team, a good product and traction is the key to getting into 500Startups," says Yosha. She advises startup founders considering 500Startups to check out the Quora articles by Elizabeth Yin, who heads the accelerator program to learn more about the criteria.

                                        

Pitching Seed round – Key to success

Yosha has also recently raised a seed round funding. "A lot of people told me that being a solo female founder, I will face a lot of challenges in raising money," she says. "But ultimately I believe that traction trumps everything else." Vectr Ventures and 500Startups were both the first investors Yosha connected with and who she raised from. “Both have a very strong focus on promoting diversities in their portfolios and they really value strong female founders – they think of us as underutilized assets!”

Idea Implementation in Hong Kong – the rewards and the challenges

Yosha believes that Hong Kong is a great place for startups. The startup ecosystem has been maturing and there are connections to China and the wider APAC region. Therefore, Yosha considers Hong Kong to be the new startup hub of Asia. With the connectivity that Hong Kong offers, LafaLafa hopes to leverage their experience across markets like Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar where the scope for their proposition is also huge

The LafaLafa team recognizes that ecommerce is just taking off in Hong Kong, so there are advantages of being an early player in the market. "There are so many websites and delivery apps launching in Hong Kong so the scope is immense,” Yosha acknowledges. However, pioneer startups also face the disadvantage of having to educate merchants and customers about the benefits of the cashback concept, and how it works. Yosha remains confident, having managed to get to 800,000+ downloads within the first 12 months of launching in India. "It’s a pretty simple and effective model where we share most of the commissions we get from ecommerce partners with our customers as extra cashback," says Yosha. "We are pretty sure that this model will be a big success in Hong Kong too."

Yosha’s #StartupPassion: Live with Passion

Bringing a product to life, and seeing that LafaLafa is used by consumers and making their lives more convenient is definitely Yosha’s startup passion. With big expansion plans for Asia, she hopes to live her passion for entire life!

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