April 11, 2019
Celebrating 7 years of growth of Xoxoday
Xoxoday is celebrating the 7th anniversary of our founding, and this time, it is unique for more than one reason.
Most importantly, we have now grown to become a more extensive and more dynamic team of over 150 people, capable of treading many more of the future milestones. This past year, the company also took strong stands on our people-centricity by introducing an intuitive and expansive employee benefits package. From Insurance benefits to health plans to free breakfast and lunches, these benefit lists are top-notch and profoundly impact the employee experience.
Xoxoday also achieved an extraordinary financial milestone of 100 crore revenue growing by over 100% during the past year. This achievement has been a great reason to relish for all the stakeholders.
To top it all, we also launched the new version of ‘Xoxoday for Rewards’ platform, and this comes with several new inclusions. The UI has been redesigned to become more intuitive and robust with high usability and a visually interesting narrative. The global catalogue now spreads over 60+ countries. Experiences include curated activities that are exclusive to Xoxoday and Gift vouchers now include in numerous new categories like, financial vouchers, health & wellness vouchers, petrol cards, learning vouchers, mobile recharges, personal loan, daycare, etc. Xoxoday is also in the process of exploring more sectors and API driven solutions to provide even more choices for the employees.
A few of our oldest employees have great things to say on this occasion.:
Gurumurthy, who has worked with Xoxoday for over six years, told, "I joined Xoxoday in September 2012, within six months of its inception. Seeing it grow from a small team of 5 to this huge family of 150, fill me with immense pride. The last seven years have been a roller coaster ride, and I have grown not only as a professional but as an individual too. I remember my interview at Manoj's home, my first day at our tiny office and meeting the other four guys. I remember the long hours and the shared laughter (which continues) while trying our best to push against the odds. There have been several 'epic' work moments with Xoxoday. The most memorable is the Flipkart assignment, the first big assignment we got as Giftxoxo. For three days and two nights, all of us worked tirelessly. None of us went home. Looking back, it amazes me, the things we were able to pull off and the efforts we put. My journey is full of amazing memories, and I would not trade it for anything. "
Pallavi joined Xoxoday in late 2012, and she was thrilled that we achieved this landmark of 7 years.
"My journey with Xoxoday was like riding a roller coaster. Everyday life here used to prop up new challenges and learning. I learnt many aspects here - and grew emotionally, mentally and professionally which helped me in nurturing my attitude, work & decision making. There could be phases where you could become demotivated. Again, it will be you who will motivate yourself and win the battle. People who criticise you, also are the first ones to praise you when you get it right. This is what Xoxoday teaches you. To start believing yourself. It teaches you how you can positively take criticism and work hard to prove them wrong. The company has grown a lot and my hearty wishes for it to reach to millions... billions.. trillions.. Happy Birthday, Xoxoday!!"
Manoj Gupta also joined Xoxoday in late 2012, and he passionately explains his journey with Xoxoday. "It's been 6+ years with Xoxoday now. Completing such a long journey with Xoxoday has been one of the memorable moments. It’s been filled with learning and growing. Starting from a table with seven people to reach at this stage of having 150+employees and multiple offices globally - along with entering the 100Cr league - gives a crazy feeling of achievement. The sky is not the limit though, there is more way to go. I nurtured the operations department to excellence and I learnt what a real business is. I learned to think independently, be creative and to push myself out of my comfort zone. Xoxoday adds significant value to each employee, and it helps each reach her or his highest potential. At Xoxoday, I have learned so much – I laughed, I cried, I faced challenges and I also experienced wonderful moments that will stay forever in my memory. Along with operations, now I have also taken another challenge to grow myself in sales and business expansion. I’m glad to be a part of this splendid group. Xoxoday always rocks. :)"
We also caught up with the four founders in search of insights into their journey of creating Xoxoday. We struck gold. Inspirational for all aspiring entrepreneurs, their stories tell a tale of consistency, trust and unfailing determination. Read on to find splendid snippets of the conversation.:
The first person to enter the office, Sumit is also many a time the last to leave. Conspicuous as a leader and ardently conscientious, Sumit is the engine to Xoxoday’s growth and expansion. Even with his overflowing calendar appointments, he is omnipresent for a discussion. Right at the planned minute, our discussion started, and he sprung right into this narration of the bygone and wonderful seven years.
Seven years and counting
‘Our first office was a rented single room in Jeevan Bhima Nagar, and I still remember our first bulk order. It was teacher’s day, and a nearby school required 10 -12 pens to gift their teachers - that was the beginning of this all. The first festive bulk order was cracked during Diwali that year – I remember how the entire team toiled overnight and how we got it delivered. The focus for us was that we kept building the existing customer base and in the process, we kept reaching out to our old connects and created new connects. We were extensively travelling to Mumbai and Delhi in search of more. It was in 2015 that we cracked our first corporate account and they used us for consumer rewards. It was during the same time, an IT multinational and an Indian consumer electronics giant came in for experience rewards for their employees. Our first one crore order happened with a yet another IT multinational corporation during the end of 2015, and they were in for the requirement of long service awards. We further achieved momentum when our first platform client and our first international client joined the league.
Our strategy remained the same throughout – to get growingly ambitious with the size of the accounts and vigorously search for levers of growth. That is how we cracked our first channel product, with a British-Dutch oil and gas company.
This search for growth and its scalability made us test and experiment markets and offerings. This financial year’s 100 crore achievement is a result of this constant pursuit. This milestone is highly significant, but still a fraction of what we envision ourselves to become.’
“Supply-side vendor partnerships were pivotal for our business, but we tactically managed to optimise these. Our strategy was to onboard the top 3 to 5 brands, create the user dynamics and await the rest of the players to contend for enlistment. "
Our growth strategy
“We always believed in growth through fundamentals. Kshatriya and Mahindra group- our current investors - closely observed our sustainable growth pattern to decide to invest in us. Acquisitions were, again, made of like-minded companies who synergised with our operations.
We also work closely with industry committees and panels and have over 20 memberships in elite associations.
Whether it is was the client, vendor, investor or business acquisitions, the core to our pace and success was consistency. Whether it took a year or 3 for closure, we made sure we saw it through.’
“Our product has very high opportunities in the international market, and we are in the process of look-out for an Investor who would help us achieve global scale. It will also be of great synergy if they are a technology expert, themselves.”
For the very first time in the conversation, Sumit paused to think as if contemplating on how to round up a vastness.
“Internal will, I believe – because we need to stand sturdy against the most appalling of situations. We [the founders] reached here through infinitely trusting each other and the team. I should also talk about how my family and especially my wife, supported me through this wonderful process, this rollercoaster ride. Every day to wake up and get ready for this skirmish - of successes or disownment and joy or discontent - but to keep fearlessly moving forward.”
CPO & COO
Time seems to travel differently for Manoj - the only possible explanation of how he expedites ten times the work that is humanly plausible. Eternally calm and pleasant, Manoj can stare right into people’s unique strengths and always help them push their boundaries. He frequently ventures into redefining possibilities and never, ever, blurs out on his vision for Xoxoday and its people.
Our conversation started with Manoj sharing deep insights from his entrepreneurial journey, and he went into discussing the larger picture that he has all figured out for Xoxoday.
“The journey over the last seven years has been full of new learnings every day. When we started this company, I just had a professional work experience of 6 years. Before Xoxoday, the work was confined to my specific role, and I did not understand how to prospect at the bigger picture of a company. Xoxoday experience has taught me how to think, execute, lead and manage.”
“As a team, we have faced many lows and highs. The best thing has been our resolution to stay together and overcome any obstacles. We always knew that starting up is easy but sustaining it is the toughest part. It was inevitable that this sustenance had also to be profitable and one that creates value for all stakeholders. I learnt that transforming from ‘good’ to ‘great’ was not a cakewalk. To actually live this, one had to improve and learn continually.
When we started, I wanted to build a good company. However, today, I aspire to make a great institution out of Xoxoday. I want Xoxoday to be an institution that stands firm on its values, relentlessly delivering its promises and continuously creating value for all its stakeholders.”
“Over this journey, I understood that the biggest asset to our company is our people. Before Xoxoday, I may have only sparingly understood the gravity of how people become a stark differentiator to the success or failure of an organisation. We have learnt with time that our biggest investment and strength today, is our team. This team has helped us sail through the challenges of the past and helped us build a robust company. I want to use this 7th anniversary to send out a hearty thank you to all the people who have been part of the Xoxoday journey and have helped us in various ways.”
There is a high probability of finding Abhishek engrossed in a discussion at one of the many work aisles, during any typical hour of the day. The technology floor is a bustling arena of such high spirited conversations and jostling discussions. Abhishek leads this dynamic team of technologists into creating Xoxoday’s vision of the future.
Abhishek took a long minute to disconnect from this to start our discussion.
From the Beginning
‘We, Manoj, Sumit and I, met almost 30 times at a Costa Coffee in Koramangala, before we started with our partnership,’ reminiscences Abhishek, ‘Manoj was so very clear about the business idea and Sumit came with deep experience.’
‘Our one-room office was a microcosm of the Xoxoday’s work floors of today. Four of us worked hand-in-hand - Manoj planned the execution, Sumit planned the customer acquisition, and I was fervently coding. Kushal also joined us shortly by helping us create vendor pools efficiently.’
A short, fulfilled, smile streaked through his face as he continued, ‘I coded the first software prototype from the very scratch,’ affectionately spoke the coder in him.
‘I remember even the first order through the software. It was a Birthday cake, and it had to be delivered at midnight. We were so thrilled that Sumit and I took off ourselves in a scooty to hand deliver it. It was shortly after this event we had our first hire – Ayub Khan who helped us with the deliveries.’
‘In a span of 4 months, we started selling to corporates and shortly, we realised that product selling was resource intensive and highly vendor dependent. We reconfirmed to sell Gift Cards. The technology required much revamping to shift from products to gift cards. The good thing is that we kept testing POCs in the market.’
‘We could not have stopped there,’ told Abhishek after a brief pause. ’We studied the US market to understand the newer trends in gifting, and that’s when experiences stumbled upon us. We instantly adopted experiences into our portfolio and retargeted our captive audience of corporates using a ‘point based’ redemption system. We wanted to solve their problem of iterative searches for corporate rewarding using technology – also helping us to create account based customers.’
‘We were keen to listen to customers and incorporate each of their requirements into our software. For example, the nomination workflows solved a severe RnR problem of our clients. Initially, we were trying to build a monolithic architecture using SOA. We have now architected our systems based on microservices and micro solutions. Resultantly, each piece of the software becomes easy to develop and scale.’
‘As a product, we would want Strengthening the technology team is my primary focus because we want to be known as the best technology company. Rigorous annual planning, hiring and investments in cutting edge technology will help us achieve this. We have already foraged into AI and ML, and we plan to use technologies like blockchain, poly cloud, distributed architecture and other cluster based technologies to maximise the robustness of our platform. Our platform should end up working as an artificial consultant for employee engagement for the HR personnel – providing deep insights into employee behaviours, attitudes, engagement, accurate fore sights of attrition and loss of productivity. This future is where we are speeding towards.’
‘Truly believe in our people; trust them on getting things done. Lead through example -and intently practice this day in day out.’
Abhishek gleamed while this discussion was concluding, perhaps in the brief ordeal of all those extraordinary memories.
An ardent adventurer, Kushal has been faring exceptionally in the quest of building Xoxoday. Kushal has had a keen eye for business expansion and opportunities, and also a genuine people person - constantly nurturing and building meaningful relationships with Xoxoday’s clients and our people.
Conversations happen effortlessly with Kushal and become particularly verbose when he speaks of the two passions of his life - travel and Xoxoday.
“ I was pursuing my MBA when I chanced upon meeting oldies Sumit and Manoj. They were in the ideation stage, and their entrepreneurial mettle truly inspired me. Quite soon, Sumit, Manoj, Abhishek and I found ourselves in the journey of creating the aspirational Xoxoday team.
I still starkly remember the first remote order that we executed - It was a software company from Hyderabad. We were required to deliver wine hampers that were sourced from Bangalore.
I also remember our first corporate order of “Experiences as Rewards” to a large IT company in Bangalore. Our systems were still being built, and I remember how we strived to complete building their requirements two days after we signed an agreement with them.
I feel nostalgic when I look back at the beginning of this fabulous seven-year journey - the one table office, running around for deliveries, out-of-the-world celebrations of sweet successes, passionate client meetings, setting up newer offices and lots more. The Xoxoday team is more themselves than ever since the past seven years - full of energy and enthusiasm to discover opportunities hitherto. With the 100 crore milestone, we have seen the achievement of one of our significant milestones, but there are many more to come.”
“Sustaining company growth with mostly retained earnings for seven years was challenging. We have yet, grown to become self-dependent and self-sustaining. We are growing at a rate of 80-100% year on year. On-boarding awesome people is yet another challenge. We are learning and evolving to make sure our team gets better and better every day.”
Road map ahead
“We have taken a significant shift from service-led model to SaaS model of business. We believe that SaaS is the way forward which gives us a chance to proliferate and serve a vast number of customers.
We firmly believe that the people of Xoxoday have enabled us to reach this fantastic milestone, and we wish to pursue much more in the years to come, together.”
Xoxoday is going to be decked to celebrate the seven years milestone, standing tall on the shoulders of the relentless efforts of all who were once a part of us and who are now a part of us. The people who lead Xoxoday through springs of hope and winters of despair.
This year, we celebrate our People!
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