Our obsession with selfies has prompted many leading smartphone brands to improve the front camera, which they claim will help us capture our very best looks. But what else can we do with our selfies? We may post it to our Facebook or Instagram accounts, make it our profile picture, and get some ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. Can our selfie do something more constructive to improve our lives, or earn some rewards/cash-backs at the very least?

Here is a social discovery startup that may help us earn our next meal just by clicking our selfie and posting it to the app. magicpin, as the name goes, is the new “selfie expert” in town.

“The way the access economy is shaping up in India is that consumers value experiences more than ownership. They are increasingly spending time and energy on living rather than having,” said magicpin Co-founder and CEO Anshoo Sharma. 

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“This is the exactly the concept we are working on. magicpin is basically a social network for local experiences that acts as extended senses for consumers to experience the best out of a locale. It is also new-age guide that lets consumers find the best places around an area for food, fashion and beauty,” Sharma adds.

magicpin Co-founder and CEO Anshoo Sharma

The startup was launched in 2015 by venture capital experts Sharma and Brij Bhushan. 

Sharma has over 13 years of professional experience in investing, consulting, and tech roles across India and the US. Before magicpin, he worked at VC firm Lightspeed India. He is a graduate from IIM Ahmedabad.

Bhushan has spent  a large part of his professional life closely involved in the startup ecosystem with Nexus Venture Partners as an investor. An IIM Bangalore alumnus, he has earlier worked at Bain & Co. in India. 

How magicpin works

magicpin calls itself the foursquare of India for its similarity to the US-based local discovery app’s business model. In fact, magicpin has added the selfie element to the business model to make it more appealing to selfie-obsessed Indian consumers.

Pin a location on the map, and magicpin will show you the best local experiences that people in the neighbourhood are having — from the hippest cafés to the yummiest dimsums, the trendiest fashion boutique, or luxurious spas.

“Our user community, known as magicians, is up and about in their city’s neighbourhoods sharing their experiences across food, beauty and fashion categories in picture stories that inspire other users to have the same experiences,” Sharma said. “As soon as the customer leaves the shop, he/she gets an instant message to come back to the place, creating more awareness about the upcoming offers and discounts at the merchant. For their each spending, they get rewarded in ‘magicpin points’ that can be used to buy more services and experiences at our partner merchants,” Sharma elaborates.

For the consumer, magicpin is a destination to share visual stories of their local experiences, find out the buzz in their vicinity, and discover interesting, like-minded people to connect with and events and merchants to go to. Whereas, for partner brands and merchants, magicpin is a place to engage, drive discovery, reward loyal customers, and share updates about new events or services. On the app, a partner’s customers create content that goes on to social media to more relevant users, increasing new and repeat business to the partner.

Gurgaon-headquartered magicpin is operational across Delhi-NCR, Bangalore, Mumbai and is planning to expand to other cities as well.

How the idea took birth

Over the past decade, China has taken a giant leap in technological and infrastructural development. The Asian giant’s tremendous growth has inspired many an entrepreneur. Sharma also struck magicpin’s idea during one of his visits to China.

“During my visit, we happened to see a novel business model, wherein if anyone is drunk at a restaurant or street market, the management or the association will make sure the person gets a cab and it drops him/her safely at his/her destination. In the process, the person gets some cash-backs/rewards, prompting him to come back. Keeping that in mind, we though of combining both online and offline retail services through an app, where people can get the best discounts by posting their selfies,” Sharma elaborated.

magicpin Co-founder and COO Brij Bhushan

magicpin Co-founder and COO Brij Bhushan

According to Sharma, magicpin is at the centre of both user and merchant. In most cases, the merchant doesn’t have access to customers. Once the customer leaves his shop there is very little chance for him/her to come back. “Our aim is to fill this gap. We give better access to the merchants using magicpin. We created this hyper market app where we make sure merchants and customers do come together,” he said.

Unlike many other startups that use digital media and other modes of marketing platform to reach out to the masses, magicpin relies purely on its referral network. The moment a customer tries the app, it will show his/her who are on the app. He will also find the call-to-action as soon as a friend comes on board.

The company charges the merchants a commission on each sale based on the size of the business.

Sharma claims magicpin’s revenues are growing fast and is currently driving INR 30 crore (US$5 million) business monthly. The tremendous growth has landed the startup a couple of funding rounds. The latest investment of US$7 million came in May this from Lightspeed India PartnersWaterbridge Ventures and two unnamed global family offices. Bain & Co Indian Chairman Srivatsan Rajan and Delhivery CEO Sahil Barua also contributed to the round.

As of now, imagicpin is employing 190-odd people.

The startup was part of Google Launchpad program 2015.

In India, offline retail is estimated to be a US$1 trillion market by 2020. This is 100x the size of e-commerce and constitutes many large brands and millions of merchants across categories like restaurants, fashion, spa, beauty, yoga, sports, gym, and more. With the penetration of smartphones, the way we discover and transact these local experiences is changing, and magicpin aims to be a catalyst of this change.


Featured image credit: ryanking999 / 123RF Stock Photo