Exclusive: FreeCharge Co-founder Kunal Shah on the Biggest Takeover in Indian e-Commerce History

Exclusive: FreeCharge Co-founder Kunal Shah on the Biggest Takeover in Indian e-Commerce History
He built a company in 5 years, and sold it off for over $400 million to Snapdeal. His brainchild FreeCharge today has over 20 million users, and is the biggest rival to Vijay Shekhar Sharma's Paytm.

This Snapdeal-owned online recharge portal started off as recent as August 2010 and went on to be the biggest takeover in Indian e-commerce history and the biggest Venture Capital exit in India to date. Not too shabby, eh?

Business Insider India sat down with Kunal Shah, Co-founder, FreeCharge to discuss the three biggies in life – the big exit, big cheque and big plan.

On ‘Usko Paisa Mila, Usne Patli Gali Le Li’ (he got the cash, he left)

Easier said than done. I don't think people sell companies for money alone. They want their brand to exist and grow.

You want people to proudly carry your company’s title on their resume. That’s a bigger thing to achieve than ‘paisa mila’ (got the money).

How do you decide on the best time to sell a company?

You look at the market situation. You have to decide if you’re better off joining forces or fighting alone.

It’s very egoistic to think of yourself as the warrior, unicorn, or whatever. You got to realize this is business, not war. This business should give returns to your stakeholders and the people who’ve believed and invested in you.

Without returns, investors will not repeat themselves in the country. Ego often makes us forget most of these obligations.

How does it feel - a bitter breakup, or a mutual divorce?

Neither. We often put human emotions into some of these things. That’s not fair.

Is it something I’m proud of? The answer is yes.

How do you move on? Do you get post sell-off blues?

It’s hard. I don’t think there are enough people here who’ve done big exits. They don’t know what’s it’s like to live a life post a big exit.

You don’t have the same pressure, but you’ve got to be the daredevil every day. It’s like you can do the stunts, but you’re not going to die. You feel you’re not the daredevil anymore.

It feels differently. You may be doing the same stuff, but it doesn’t have the same feel to it.

Does growth hacking have to be jugaad?

Jugaad results in no growth hacking.

Jugaad can give you initial sparks but if your product doesn’t act as an absorbent and retain these, the jugaads disappear.