Planning to start a business can be a tough idea especially at times when there are economic slowdown and financial crunches. It is the time when several businesses have either shut their operations or operating with less turnover. But even during this tough time, there are businesses that are doing well, thanks to Sponsa, a social referral and collaboration platform. It works towards helping individuals and businesses grow with social referrals, consumer endorsements and more recently connecting them with live webinar courses from industry experts. In simple terms, the platform allows small businesses to collaborate with their consumers by facilitating cash incentives for consumer referrals and eventually getting the top referrers to become their brand endorsers.
Launched in March 2020, Sponsa is the brainchild of Suravi Patnaik. The two other co-founders are Abinash Sahoo and Swati Mehrotra. Suravi has started her career as a researcher at the University of Otago where she developed an AI model that identified normative intelligence from social interactions, trends and practices. Along with her continual research, she has also been working as a data analyst over the last three years, wherein she was exposed to data-backed insights of processes marred with inefficiencies when it came to customer connectivity and business referrals for small business organisations. She decided to consolidate her research and experience towards a tech-powered social collaboration and referral product Sponsa — thus allowing small businesses to grow by collaborating with their consumers and networks.
Sponsa aims to help sellers promote their products and services through consumer endorsements and offer incentives to consumers who refer the product or service to their family and friends. Talking about Sponsa's business model Suravi says, “Our goal is towards becoming a growth powerhouse for entrepreneurs by democratising consumer endorsements and referrals with smart-contracts and blockchain technology. We want to be the one-stop collaboration platform for consumers to collaborate with all types of businesses across the country, including service businesses such as consultants, salons etc., while at the same time be entrepreneur-friendly.” The platform is currently benefiting around 300 sellers and 12,000 users across India and New Zealand.
While the pandemic has affected business globally, Sponsa took a tough decision to begin its operations during the pandemic. And it looks like the decision has paid off. Even before the full product was launched, the start-up received numerous enquiries and sign-ups. “Starting alongside an emerging global pandemic toughened us up from the start but also accelerated our growth as an increasing number of small businesses are being pushed online while consumers are getting more digitally social being cooped up at home. At a time marked by significant economic uncertainty, revenues affected by containment measures and the significant drop in demand, it helps for tech start-ups like us to be on a lean model - be financially vigilant by cost-cutting such as not investing in office spaces and focussing on a profitable model from day one to have a runway to survive in the worst.”
When asked about Sponsa's future plans, Suravi says, “We have plans to get a vernacular version platform so that it can cater to non-English speaking client base too and more extensively to tier III cities. Shortly, the team is looking to widen the sales funnels for small businesses, build smart collaboration options between businesses and consumers, and get international brand collaborations. The team is also exploring to introduce delivery options for product businesses and is looking at B2B referral and endorsement collaborations.”Make way for Macadamia nuts, the next go-to superfood