Profile: Harneet Singh Rajpal: Tech-Enthusiast

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | October 05, 2015
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The newly appointed chief business officer of Zopper shares his experience of working with an e-commerce start-up and more.

When Harneet Singh Rajpal ended his nine-year-long stint with Domino's as senior vice president - marketing, speculation was rife about his next assignment. It would have come as no surprise had he chosen to join a food tech company, after serving the food category for almost a decade. Rajpal, however, chose to join Zopper, an electronics and consumer durables platform. Why?

Harneet Singh Rajpal

The differentiating factor for Rajpal was the "bigness of the idea" of Zopper. "From an e-commerce perspective, the bigger idea is the one which can cause some disruption in the space," he says, adding that the way e-commerce is functioning today is neither profitable nor sustainable. Currently, e-commerce companies are mired in losses and they depend heavily on investor funding. "My mandate is to do business profitably, and the only way to profitability in e-commerce is to go 'hyper-local', particularly in the consumer durables and electronics segment," states Rajpal.

Zopper is a hyper-local marketplace for discovery, delivery and ownership of consumer durables and electronics. At Jubilant FoodWorks, Rajpal closely worked with Domino's Pizza, helping the brand establish its footprint across India and Sri Lanka. He was instrumental in building the brand as a hyper-local, on-demand food delivery e-commerce and m-commerce platform, at the same time establishing Domino's as one of India's most successful digital food ordering and technology platform.

"Unlike Zopper, Domino's is not a tech company and for it to create a name for itself in the e-commerce and m-commerce space was a significant achievement. One of the reasons why I chose Zopper was because I could apply this learning here as well," explains Rajpal.

The advantage is that Zopper, being a tech company, has all technical capabilities available in-house and this will help bring scale and efficiency. "We want to create a streamlined and lean tech-driven organisation - which is again one of the routes to profitability in e-commerce," he opines.

Food to electronics and services to tech is not the only change this career move brings for Rajpal. With Zopper, he also moves into the start-up world. Joining the fairly young company was "no cultural shock" for Rajpal. "When I joined Domino's 10 years ago, it was also a new-age company. We were a small team of 120 people trying to build the pizza category in India. I can see the same freshness, passion and positivity in Zopper today," he shares.

The average age of employees at Zopper is 23 years. Because the organisation is still growing and there are no rigid hierarchies, it allows people to connect with each other like friends. "Everyone here has a sense of ownership towards the company. There are no fixed timings or extraordinary pressures, but people feel the urge to deliver. That's what makes the place energising," he exclaims.

Although Rajpal acknowledges the chaos and madness in a start-up, he is cautious in dismissing these as negative traits. "Every industry, whether it is telecom or insurance, took time to establish itself, and it's the same with e-commerce. The cumulative learning from this phase will eventually bring stability, though in India it will happen with some country specific nuances," he says. Rajpal adds that people and small businesses play a significant role in Indian e-commerce and, therefore, he proposes a participative and inclusive hyper-local approach towards it.

An inveterate technology enthusiast, Rajpal constantly looks for newer ways to innovate. He likes to read in his free time to understand new technologies that can influence consumer behaviour and tracks global financial markets. The challenge of bringing some structure to the currently unstructured space keeps him going.

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