How CashKaro got its payback from cashbacks (and some cash burn)

A business model built around online product and price discovery with the user promise of hard cash in the bank has helped CashKaro step on the gas in the pandemic year—and, in the bargain, build some serious street cred


Swati and Rohan Bhargava, co-founders of CashKaro

It sounds ridiculous. Well, that’s how the TV commercial of a credit card payment platform starts. When you pay your credit card bills on Cred, proclaims the protagonist in the advertisement aired recently that featured former cricketer Rahul Dravid, you earn Cred coins, which can be used to claim cashbacks and rewards. “I know this sounds ridiculous,” he exclaimed.

He wasn’t alone. Elsewhere, a startup founded five years before Cred also found the promise outlandish, but for a different reason: The cashback it offers is not in the form of ‘points’ or ‘wallet cash’ or ‘coins’. It’s hard cash that can be transferred to users’ bank accounts or redeemed as Amazon or Flipkart gift vouchers.

That’s the unique selling proposition of CashKaro, which claims to be India’s biggest cashback and coupons player. And to drive it home, the venture created an ad film called The Magic of #CashOverCoins, a not-too-subtle dig at Cred, the three-year-old startup that turned unicorn in April, with a series D funding round of $215 million; in fiscal year 2020, the startup that is now valued at $2.2 billion racked up a loss of Rs 360 crore on revenue of Rs 52 lakh.

CashKaro has few illusions of joining that league (in terms of valuation as well as red ink). Raising $10 million at a modest valuation after its last round in September 2020, it showed losses of Rs 7 crore on a top line of Rs 57 crore in FY20. And the founders claim to be back on track, after hitting a speed bump a couple of years ago. “Over 1 crore members have saved Rs 500 crore using CashKaro,” co-founder Swati Bhargava wrote in an email celebrating eight years of CashKaro last month.

© Forbes India

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