Hello there, today in our Startup Interview series, we are publishing an interview with Mr. Sukhendra Reddy Rompally, CEO/Founder/Director of Chezuba.
Let’s get into it!
At a glance
- Startup Name: Chezuba
- Sector: Social Impact
- Launch date: 19th October 2017
- Location: Hyderabad, India
- Funding: In the middle of Pre-Series A
- Problem solves: Skilled professionals are failing to find impact in their work and NGOs lack professional skills to work efficiently.
Hi, Explain briefly about your startup and how did you come up with this idea?
Hi! Chezuba is a web-based platform that helps skilled professionals to find online volunteering projects to make an impact and ease the work of the NGOs across the globe. Currently, we are catering to the needs of NGOs from 23 countries and have registered volunteers from almost 100 countries.
I was a part of AIESEC – a volunteering organization while at the university. The 2 biggest challenges we faced convincing people to take up volunteering opportunities were “time” and “location” constraints. Upon graduating and working in several countries, I have realized the problem aggravates when you are a working professional. Time and location continue to be the constraints for people to volunteer inspite of them wanting to use their skill
Could you briefly tell us about the Founders?
I have graduated from IIT (ISM) Dhanbad. Prior to Chezuba, I have worked for a tourism app company in Russia, game developer firm in Taiwan and an HR tech company in Mumbai.
Jagan was my batchmate at the IIT and has worked in the field of Business Development in Food and Education sectors.
Adela is a Slovakian having extensive experience working in high commissions in Slovakia, China, and Taiwan.
Who is your Targeted audience?
We are currently targeting NGOs in India, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, and Peru. Our volunteers are primarily 18-30-year-old skilled professionals from India, Kenya, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Eastern Europe in the areas of IT, Content writing, Social media, and Digital Marketing.
What type of strategies do you think is valuable to take the company to the next level?
We have used digital marketing strategies to identify our markets and measure CAC in different geographies.
Engaging our users in building the company and have already leveraged our volunteers in Product Development and entering new markets.
We have started something called a “Regional Ambassador Program” where we engage our volunteers for a 3-month period to understand their country as a market and reduce the CAC in that region by at least 10%.
Tell us about your amazing team members?
In addition to the core team, we have a developer from IIT, Indian BD team headed by a former entrepreneur, International BD looked after by someone who has 16 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies as well as NGOs.
Our Customer support executive has previously worked with Bank of America and Google. We have regional ambassadors in France, Nicaragua, and Australia and are on the lookout for more in the following months. We are in the middle of some aggressive tech hiring as well.
What is the big picture of your company?
We envision to organize the unorganized sector of volunteering. Our short term goals include partnering with 11,200 NGOs and having 800,000+ volunteers in the next 18 months. In the longer run, we aim to be a one-stop destination for every NGO in the world to find what they need – fundraising, skills or expertise.
What is your best motivation line that inspires you?
“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do” – Steve Jobs.
What challenges do you face in the market currently?
Online volunteering is a fairly new concept that most people are aware of. Most NGOs need to be trained on how this works and it takes an effort to win their trust given most aren’t tech-savvy. On the volunteers’ side, the challenge has been in ensuring that the volunteers take this seriously and complete the projects they enroll in.
Could you share some statistics so far?
We raised a meager 22,000 USD at the beginning of the year from my previous colleagues and bosses. One of them went on to re-invest another 16,000 USD last week for a 6-times higher valuation. We are in the middle of our Pre-Series A round of 500,000-600,000 USD and are closing down 50% of it from Indian investors by the end of September. We are expecting to close down the remaining from Taiwan and Turkey, where we are headed to in October as a part of Startup Istanbul -2018.
Our revenue model includes an annual subscription fee of 50 USD from the NGOs and a small admin fee of 5 USD from volunteers per project.
We have so far partnered with 200+ NGOs from about 23 countries and have had more than 2,000 volunteers from close to 100 countries registered on our platform.
What advice would you like to give the upcoming entrepreneurs?
Startups aren’t science that work on defined rules with defined frameworks. Books, Mentors, and experts can only help you get theoretical knowledge. Entrepreneurs need to be curious enough to challenge norms and brave enough to accept you are wrong when you end up being that.