When you startup, you are the first salesperson of the company. Meet Swati Bhargava. Swati co-founded CashKaro with her husband in 2013 and it’s now backed by Ratan Tata and Kalaari Capital. CashKaro provides customers with cash-backs over and above existing coupons & discounts. Hailing from a modest family in Ambala, Swati is a rare combination of beauty and brains. Her undeniable mathematical abilities, sword sharp wit and exemplary foresight are just some of her many alluring traits. She charmed us with her warm and friendly personality and we bet she will charm you too!
This is a part of our special blog series Sales SuperHeroes. The series showcases the very best of sales & marketing leaders in the world, business heads, CXOs – giving us an insight of what it takes to be them and to learn more about their journey. The idea is to offer valuable sales and marketing knowledge, future industry predictions, strategies and career advice to professionals in the industry.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where do you come from and what did you study?
My journey began from Ambala; a small town north of Delhi where I studied at the Convent of Jesus & Mary school till the age of 16; I then got offered a scholarship to study in Singapore in 1999 to complete my high school. Although I was nervous about applying for the scholarship because nobody in Ambala had ever gone abroad to study, my father insisted on me applying. I got selected for the programme, but it was a tough decision for my family to send me abroad at such a young age. In the end, they thought it’s a good opportunity knocking our door and I am glad I went with my family’s decision of studying in Singapore. In 2002, I was again fortunate to get a scholarship to study at the prestigious London School of Economics. I graduated from LSE with an Honours in Mathematics & Economics in 2005.
My father runs a manufacturing unit for agricultural implements. Since childhood, I’ve always been inspired by his hard work, composure & business acumen. At the age of 50, my mother started a social enterprise called ‘Akshdha’ where they train underprivileged women to earn a living by crafting beautiful necklaces and wedding accessories. My brother Siddharth is the National Sales Manager for National Instruments. He is extremely intelligent, super popular and the best brother one could have! After getting married to Rohan, I am lucky to be a part of a family that is equally loving, caring and encouraging.
From being an associate at Goldman Sachs to CashKaro, tell us a bit about your journey
After graduating in 2005, I applied for a summer internship at Goldman Sachs, UK. At the end of the internship, I joined the Investment Banking team at Goldman Sachs. After my stint at Goldman for 5 years, Rohan (my husband and co-founder of CashKaro) and I stumbled upon the concept of ‘cashback’ which was creating a huge buzz in the UK at the time. We quit our jobs, delved deeper into the cash-back market and did our research. The idea seemed like it would be a good venture.
In 2011, we started our first cashback venture PouringPounds.com, in London. In April 2013, with principally the same model that had been tried and tested in Pouring Pounds, we launched our brain child in India, CashKaro.com. CashKaro is now India’s Largest cashback & coupons site. CashKaro is funded by Kalaari Capital and Mr. Ratan Tata himself. We have partnered with 1500+ sites and offer cashback on sites such as Amazon.in, Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Makemytrip and more.
CashKaro is now India’s Largest cashback & coupons website
What does a typical day at CashKaro look like for you?
So when in office, my first half is divided between sitting with different teams, strategizing and analyzing to executing my own long checklist of things to do. Post lunch I usually have my meetings/calls scheduled or I am speaking at events and conferences. The day is packed and I get drawn into everything from emails to meetings to Facebook posts. Every day ends with me feeling that 24 hours is not enough.
How do you motivate your team at Cashkaro?
I have tried a variety of things to motivate my teams over the years, and different teams need different things. I have found, however, that working with the team to set transparent and attainable goals, and empowering your team to identify and solve the problems that prevent them from hitting those goals, is the best motivation as a whole. Also, it’s important to always tell people why their work matters. That is how we build the emotional equity of each employee.
What do you think is the most important trait in a sales person?
I would say – conscientiousness! You can also refer to it as “work hard until you get it done”. I think when you find a candidate who fits this description, you can count on them to not only set the right goals, but also to set a high bar for themselves and make a great effort to reach that bar. The right candidate will be able to work autonomously. A sales person with conscientiousness will do really well with data transparency too.
The right sales guy not only sets a high bar for himself but also makes a great effort to reach that bar
Name a few companies and people that you look up to
I admire Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. For women, the digital and online sector is easy to penetrate. However, doing something like Kiran, building an entire industry in India in an offline sphere such as manufacturing is commendable. She has tactfully dealt with the Government and challenges such as constant labour strikes. You need to be a strong woman to manage all this.
Where do you see the gig economy headed?
The Gig Economy is on the path to a rapid explosion, echoing the desire of a large part of the population for independence and the ability to work on their own terms. We can expect more and more people to start working independently – starting beauty parlours, driving cars, etc. Going by recent reports, India is expected to become one of the leading gig economies soon, while the global market is expected to be valued at $335 billion by 2025. Of course, with this new opportunity come a host of problems including payments, regulations, and taxation. As we move forward, the industry, the freelancing community and the regulators will need to work together to ensure a global, successful future for all.
Gig Economy is on the path to a rapid explosion. We can expect more and more people to start working independently
When you are not working, how do you like to spend your time?
Well, Rohan (My husband) and I love travelling. We both enjoy exploring new places whenever possible and love to take short weekend breaks from our busy work schedule. We have travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and parts of America. Relaxing by the beach and having a cocktail by the pool is our idea of just savouring the moment! If not a travel plan, then a simple workout at the gym, morning yoga or even a run for an hour gets us going and fills us with great positive energy.
What is your favourite quote?
Since I don’t like to do anything half-heartedly, my favourite quote is, “Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.” – By Philip Stanhope.
OK, last question: tell us a few fun facts about yourself?
- I love shopping. My husband believes that if given a chance, I can probably shop the world off. (laughs) My favourite clothing brands include Karen Millen, Coast, Reiss and River Island.
- When I am not busy working, I make awesome Italian and Mexican food! I cooked a lot more in London but in India, we get spoilt by caring family members who are happy to treat us to lovely homemade food every day!