Manoj Agarwal, Co-Founder, | NASSCOM
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Manoj Agarwal, Co-Founder,

Manoj comes with over 10 years of work experience in varied functions like Marketing, Technology, Products and Strategy. He holds B.Tech in Computer Science Engineer from PEC Chandigarh and MBA from IIM Kozhikode. He has worked in senior leadership positions in diverse fields like Education, IT and e-Commerce with companies like Yahoo, Manipal Education and Flipkart.

“Our aim going forward is to grow organically to a USD 20 million organization serving to 500,000 guests globally”.

His strength lies in his ability to conceive and implement the strategic plans to identify new market opportunities, initiate product and service introductions, and negotiate strategic partnerships to drive market expansion and revenue growth. He also has proven track record of taking projects from the phase of ideation to launch in national and international markets. His experience has been very instrumental in bringing business and operational efficiencies in Manipal Education and Flipkart. He has also mentored some early stage start-ups to give them direction on sustaining and growing their business.

Manoj has been an active contributor to entrepreneurial eco-system during his MBA. He has been nominated for various national and international awards and has been an invitee in some key international conferences. Manoj is an active speaker in various prominent conferences. When he gets some time off from work Manoj likes to indulge in various sports and travel to new places.

Q: How has the concept of employee engagement evolved over the years. What are today’s employees, channel and customers looking for in the companies they are involved with?

A: The redefinition of employee appreciation was a result of the various challenges that arose in the pre-existing scheme of rewards and recognitions, and the lack of enthusiasm in employees receiving awards such as trophies and mementos. Companies have started rewarding employees with experiences for various reasons such as personal occasions—birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and professional achievements. There are rewards like Employee Referrals, SPOT Awards, Team Awards and Long Service Awards. Similar reward programs have been initiated for clients and channel partners.
Today, corporates are utilizing experiences in the form of Rewards and Recognitions (RnR). Companies have begun to realize the value of their human resources and are rewarding them in the right way to build a strong organizational culture, improve performance and productivity and drive ownership. Most organizations now have a well-defined HR policy framework for the entire employee lifecycle that enables them to decide the size of rewards and the nature of recognitions that they give.

Q: How important are rewards and recognitions to attracting and retaining good talent? Why do companies need to build these into their HR strategies?

A: Every organization strives to build a high performance workforce by engaging its employees. Retention, motivation and engagement are the buzzwords as organizations strive to maximize and leverage their human capital. In India, the situation of talent draws attention. According to a recent research on talent management, the IT and the ITeS sectors witness annual attrition rates of 30-45 percent. The scenario is not very different in other industries. Thus, the imperative to develop, nurture, engage and retain talent has gained prominence.
Rewards and Recognitions (RnR) form a significant component of any organization’s strategy. As the right kind of RnR help in keeping employees motivated and committed to their jobs, organizations are looking towards adopting a fresh and innovative approach to appreciate and applaud their employees.
According to a 2013 research, 73 percent of organizations that were rated as great places to work by employees had a daily frequency of recognition programs. In contrast, only 18 percent of other organizations did so. Likewise, 60 percent of organizations rated as great places also had a weekly frequency of recognition while only 12 percent of other organizations did so. In fact, it won’t be an over-statement to say that the corporate concept of rewards and recognitions is changing fast. Employees are welcoming new approaches to RnR, such as peer-to-peer rewards and gifting of experiences, vouchers and activities. They are also engaging more with the newer rewards technologies that are being adopted by their organizations.

Q: Why must organizations automate their rewards programs and how does xoxoday help them in this task?

A: When RnR meets streamlining and automation, organizations benefit not just by rewarding unique gifts to employees, but also by ensuring that their RnR systems are well managed and executed. A good RnR platform provides a reward points system for organizations and employees. These points can be redeemed against rewards such as experiences, vouchers and activities. Such a modern platform is scalable, flexible and localizable and in accordance with a company’s strategy, presence and the mindset of its employees.
Organizations endorsing Enterprise, the RnR technology of Xoxoday, see their employees interact socially and appreciate the gestures and efforts of their peers. They showcase their top performers on the leader board on a live and updated basis. Employees get to enjoy unique experiences and activities and imbibe learnings from them. Organizations get to monitor their reward spends and deploy people analytics to ensure that their employees stay happy and productive. Last but not the least, these organizations save taxes with their innovatively designed rewards programs and are able to integrate the tool with their existing HR systems, including fresh aspects such as employee fitness modules and wellness programs. They are also equipped to scale their tool across geographies and functions.

Q: Why and how did xoxoday decide to enter this domain considering there are not too many players addressing this market? How is the company different from others who are also targeting this area?

A: Xoxoday was started as a group gifting company in 2012. The “Gift” word in the erstwhile company name ‘Giftxoxo’ suggested that we were in the space of providing gift items for people. The statement is true and we were a gifting company in the beginning. Our business model however, has transformed over a period of time and we have taken pivots interim.
We observed new gifting trends evolving in the world, key among them ‘Experiences as Gifts’. Gifting experiences was quite a new concept in India in 2013 and we were able to become an early mover in this field. This concept was quite popular in the American and European markets but the same had been barely tried in India. We decided that the experiences here could be Skydiving, related to Wellness such as an Egyptian Spa or a Farming experience in a Village, etc. We started curating many such beautiful experiences and began making them available to people for gifting. We used the existing corporate gifting channel to sell these experiences as gifts for employees and clients. It gave a tangible feel to experiences—where they compiled similarly priced experiences in a box and let the person choose one from the set. This product was very well appreciated in the market as it gave the flexibility and the freedom to choose the desired experience.
Eventually, there was a demand in the market to automate and digitize the overall employee rewards programs in the corporate. Hence, we built an enterprise SaaS based platform, Enterprise, for corporates through which they could digitize their total rewards program for employees.

Q: What are some of the ways in which organizations are rewarding and recognizing employees and what are the innovative offerings from xoxoday that create a wow experience?

A: RnR includes end-to-end rewards and recognitions program management across the employeeclient lifecycle. For any organization, these RnR instances include, but are not limited to Employee Referral Rewards, SPOT Awards, Team Awards, Joining Delights, Festival Rewards, Rewards for Personal Occasions, Peer-to-peer Rewards, Long Service Awards and Employee Farewell Rewards.
The salient features of Xoxoday’s RnR solutions are:

  • End-to-end RnR program management across organizations
  • Unprecedented RnR customization, flexibility and scalability
  • International consulting approach with localized RnR strategy
  • Multi-cultural RnR with unique rewards according to employee preferences
  • Global Communication and RnR Logistics setup
  • People Analytics and Data Systems
  • Global Integration and Implementation
  • Exhaustive Rewards Catalog comprising Experiences, Activities and Vouchers
  • Full compatibility with Mobile, PC and other devices
  • Highly secure infrastructure and frameworks
  • Cloud-based hosting and SaaS platform capabilities
  • Fast and easy implementation of platform
  • Right from requirement gathering to rewards redemption, Xoxoday stays by the sides of its clients, ensuring that the RnR systems work seamlessly and effectively. We at Xoxoday are committed to smoothly transitioning our clients from other RnR endorsing entities to highly effective RnR system-based organization.

Q:What do you have in terms of products and services for smaller companies/start-ups? How are you helping them engage better with the employees?

A:  We have customized modules for every bit of RnR requirements including employee RnR, client RnR, RnR systems and programs and other requirements which may be ad hoc in nature and may arise from time to time. Our RnR solutions are truly global in nature and ensure that an organization’s RnR programs have the same reach as its business.
Through our exhaustive rewards catalog which includes unique experiences, activities and vouchers, we ensure the client’s employees and customers gather life-long memories instead of perishable possessions. Our experiences are offered across categories such as Adventure, Gourmet, Tours, Getaways, Wellness, Hobbies and Social Impact. Owing to their personalized and human touch, these activities help establish a strong connect of emotions between the client and its employees or customers.
Our Cloud based SaaS RnR platform, Enterprise, is designed to take care of all RnR program management needs. Together with experiences, Enteprise ensures that our clients’ RnR programs stands effectively managed as well as executed, in turn engaging their employees on a long-term basis.

Q:How are employees responding to your unique offering of gifting experiences, alongside traditional products and services? What is the feedback?

A:  The feedback has been highly positive. Employees of the millennial generation want to invest their time doing activities that cater to their passions, interests, adventure and romance. Experiences fit naturally into their scheme of things as they want to make every moment count and render every memory of their past cherishable and worth sharing like a story. They want to look back at their past with pride, enjoy every moment in the present and leave the future full of adventure and uncertainty. They love to be open to life, meet new people, have lots of fun and regret nothing at the end of the day.
Today, the concept of experiences has spread much beyond theaters and theme parks. Employees want real life thrill and won’t settle for anything less. They prefer experiences over assets, freedom over stereotypes and memories over boredom. Employees are welcoming the new approaches to RnR offered by us, such as peer-to-peer rewards and gifting of experiences, vouchers and activities. They are also engaging themselves more with the rewards technologies offered by us.

Q:How big would you say is this niche space where xoxoday has made a mark and how do you see it growing in the years forward?

A:  People in the current world are bored and want to venture out to do something new. Xoxoday provides those options. These options are experiences that a person remembers for a longer period. These include experiences in India and abroad.
Xoxoday currently has over 700 enterprises which include many corporate giants across industries. It has served over 200,000 guests till last year through around 5,000 registered partners across the country. Xoxoday also helps enterprises make their employee reward programs much more interesting. These experiences can bring excitement in their existing programs and employees would love this fresh outlook.
Xoxoday has built a platform that enables hosting of authentic experiences and makes them available for guests to explore and book on the go! Xoxoday has been able to build a community of over 5000 hosts globally. We invite various brands, venture owners and passionate professionals to host their experiences and earn an extra Mile. It’s free to host an experience with Xoxoday!

Q:Who are your customers and how have their benefited from your solutions?

A: Some companies that have started using our experiences are Accenture, Infosys, Adobe, and Microsoft, and start-ups such as Ola, Furlenco and Snapdeal.

Q:What is the way forward for xoxoday? What are your future plans?

A: Our aim going forward is to grow organically to a USD 20 million organization serving to 500,000 guests globally. Additionally, we will:

  • Continue to grow inorganically through strategic alliances and acquisitions
  • Strengthen the technology serving to Hosts, Guests and Enterprise Services
  • Reposition the Xoxoday Brand and market disruption as a result of re-branding activity
  • Enter new markets and penetrate existing markets better through brand and product re-definition
  • Seek fresh funding to take the next leap in growth