The classifieds revenue share of media went down from 70 per cent in 2000 to 10 per cent in 2004. Quikr was the answer to this gap.
Quikr’s new office at Rachenahalli in Bengaluru is truly unconventional. After all, breaking convention has been the mantra of the consumer technology startup. The building was a garment factory earlier, and the basic structure with large steel pipes, high ceiling and big windows has been kept untouched. The wooden stairs remind one of heritage buildings.
Pranay Chulet’s cabin is not yet done; so he meets visitors in the glass-panelled conference room. Dressed in a casual T-shirt and jeans, like most technology entrepreneurs, the bespectacled founder of the classifieds portal describes himself as simple, straightforward and fun-loving.
Chulet studied in the small-town of Dariba, Rajasthan, where his father worked in the mining industry. But he got an A-class education—degrees from IIT Delhi and IIM Calcutta—and top-notch jobs at P&G and Booz Allen Hamilton. It was during a management consultancy stint in the US that he found his calling. A fan of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, he wanted to make a movie and a video game. He wrote the script for it, on the theme of a hostage crisis in New York. Casting, however, turned out to be a challenge. He posted ads on Craigslist, a classified advertisement website in the US, and auditioned 200 actors in a week. That was when he realised the scope of a similar platform in India.
The classifieds revenue share of traditional media went down from 70 per cent in 2000 to 10 per cent in 2004. Quikr was the answer to this gap. The company is reportedly worth $1.5 billion now and has multiple businesses within it. The five key areas it focuses on are—automobiles, real estate, jobs, services and customer-to-customer sales.
Chulet talks about the various offbeat stuff trading on Quikr. “In Rajasthan, there will be listings for how to tie the safa (turban), in Punjab for the [Enfield] Bullet engine used as ploughs. People have started trading cows and buffaloes on our platform,” he says.
Chulet's first name used to be Pranaya. “Americans could never get the pronunciation right,” he says. “I wasn't comfortable with the idea of changing to a western name. But I was tired after six years of explaining it. So I changed it to Pranay.”
Chulet has a taste for architecture and designing, and that is reflected in his office. Though Quikr hired a designer for doing up the new office, Chulet was thoroughly involved. Many striking design elements in the office are his ideas, like a deck on the top floor which resembles a DJ’s prime spot.
A creative person, Chulet was into painting and drama during school days. He can play a fair bit of guitar as well. However, nurturing a company with billion-dollar dreams means that he is left with little time to pursue such interests. Movies are still a regular feature on Sunday mornings, enjoyed with a tub of popcorn and cola. Music is another of his passions and his taste keeps changing—the current favourite is ghazals.
Though he swears by Diesel jeans and Thomas Pink shirts, he does not believe in paying a premium for the brand value. “I try not to buy designer or branded stuff on actual price. Sale seasons are the best for these,” he says.
He looks like a fitness freak, and his latest obsession is an exercise called burpees. In this full-body strength training, one has to squat and jump at short intervals. The ideal count is 210 burpees in 40 minutes. Chulet does 210 in 47 minutes.
Chulet’s wife, Tina, also is an entrepreneur, who runs Waltzz, a mobile first dating company. They met through mutual friends and decided to tie the knot after a year of courtship. They had a dream wedding in Bordeaux, at Chateau de la Bourlie, last year.
Trained in filmmaking at New York Film Academy, Chulet wants to direct a movie some day. The script and actors are all in his mind. But he is not willing to reveal much, other than that it would be a “classic rom-com.”
PRANAY CHULET, 42
Company: Quikr (started in 2008)
Valuation: Rs.9,900 crore
Hobbies: Filmmaking, architecture and design
Quote to note: People have started trading cows and buffaloes on our platform.