Target India announced the fifth batch and the largest cohort yet for the Target Accelerator Program. Eight startups were selected to develop innovative technology solutions with the potential to enhance guest experiences at Target and in the wider retail industry. These startups will work in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, analytics and digital experiences.
Rakesh Mishra, Vice President of Marketing for Target and the accelerator program’s executive sponsor said
The Target accelerator’s largest batch yet holds diverse capabilities that can add value to our business and the entire retail sector through cutting-edge technologies such as AI and machine learning. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to tap into the immense innovation potential that exists in India through the Target Accelerator Program.
The startups selected for the accelerator will go through a rigorous four-month program, wherein they will get to refine their technology offerings and pilot solutions at Target stores or headquarter locations. In addition, during their stint with the accelerator, they will have access to Target business leaders as mentors. The startups will also be provided with legal, financial and talent consulting services based on the need of the startup. At the end of the program, startups will have the opportunity to pitch their products and capabilities to investors and others in Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem, and possibly continue their engagement with Target.
The eight selected for the fifth batch of the accelerator program are:
Cogknithas a solution that extracts context from videos and is able to generate a textual play-by-play of the video content.
Hyperworkshas developed software that integrates with hardware to scan fresh produce using a simple camera.
Moonraft is a design consultant with an artificial intelligence-powered shopping assistant in the trial room.
Cognitifaiis able to perform video analytics on video footage (both live and offline).
vPhrasecan generate insights in natural language from structured data.
Streamoidenables personalized product recommendations and natural language search.
Jumper.aienables shopping on social media through hashtags.
Along with external startups, Target also encourages participation from internal teams in the accelerator program. Pal’s Prompt,an affiliate marketing solution for Facebook, was developed by one of our Target India team members and has been selected to be a part of this cohort.
The Target Accelerator Program [TAP] was launched in December 2013. Till date, 22 startups have graduated from the program. The startups work with various internal Target teams including marketing, finance, stores, legal, search engine, merchandising, mobile and digital. For more information about the program, please visit Target Accelerator Program [TAP] page
As per a report released by Economic Times, the unused goods market is likely to cross Rs. 115,000 crores. As per Assocham, whether consumer goods like electronics, durables or automobiles – used cars, or the industrial machinery in the capital goods sector the options of re-usage are being considered more actively than ever before. Also, it was indicated that Stocking items is very prominent among Indian households [Source].
Along with Tier-1 cities, e-commerce growth has also been observed in Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities mainly due to growing aspirations & limited access to brands. When it comes to used goods marketplace, the biggest testimony of the market was when Amazon forayed into the used-goods market [via Junglee] thereby allowing individuals to sell their used stuff on Amazon. Though there are couple of players in the used-goods marketplace, there is not a single marketplace for selling Industrial goods, Jewelry & gems, furniture, electronics, musical instruments, etc.
This is the opportunity that the founders of Refabd, a recommerce startup seized when they moved to Delhi for a short period of one year to train for the Civil Services. The glaring lacuna became evident to them when they tried to either hire or purchase used home appliances. Realization then dawned that this must be the experience of short term residents as well as newcomers to a city who are looking at a similar market. The trio was then quick to spot a business opportunity waiting to be tapped in this domain and that’s how Refabdwas born!
Today we have a chat with Vineeth Kumar, Co Founder of Refabd. So lets get started with the Q&A…
How did you come up with the idea of venturing into used goods How did you come up with the idea of venturing into used goods marketplace ?
When we, the founders of Refabd, moved to Delhi for chasing our dreams on Civil Service, we personally wanted to setup our home with appliances and furniture. It was difficult for us to resort on the classified platforms, as that lacked transparency, simplicity and trust. Our search to find out a single platform for buying used products was not successful and found a business opportunity and thus Refabd was born.
Can you share some details about the team behind Refabd ?
The founders of Refabd are
Vineeth Kumar T – Post Graduate from IISc, 6+ years of experience in IT Field
Rahul Varma K – Post Graduate from Manipal Institute, 5+ Years in Chip Design, QC and Testing
Durai Gowardhan S – Graduate from PSG Tech, 4+ years of IT experience
We are a team of 20 members including the founders.
How much is the overall market size of used goods market place ?
As per the recent study OLX Crust 2016, Rs. 780 Billion is the Second Hand House Hold market in India in which Rs. 33 Billion is the Used Home Appliances and Furniture serviceable market in India.
What are some of the items that can be sold on Refabd ?
All kinds of large appliances, Furniture and Laptops can be sold on Refabd.
What according to you are some of the USP’s of Refabd from other such sites like Greendust, OLX, etc. [Specifically GreenDust since they also sell refurbished electronic items]
Classified sites like OLX, Quikr and even Shopo are Consumer to Consumer models. C2C model does not work very well with Used goods market as that lacks transparency in pricing, quality and service. Consumers all around the world prefers hassle free experience while shopping online and hence any model around used goods has to be curated.
Curated model will solve issues like pricing around used goods has to be curated. Curated model will solve issues like pricing and quality but still can’t gain the trust of buyers as the curator can’t guarantee post sale care. The model that works very well is a curated inventory based model where in products are sourced from different sources, performs rigorous QC and sell with Warranty. This model can give transparency in pricing, quality as well as post sale care.
Refabd follows this model in which all products undergo thorough quality inspection and given an QC SCORE and then images of the products are taken showing the defects and damages very clearly if any and uploaded with transparency in pricing. Refabd takes this experience to the next level by giving free delivery, easy return, warranty and Buy Back options. When it comes to GreenDust, they mainly focus on electronic goods, especially mobiles. They are not transparent in terms of quality, images and pricing.
Can you let us know about some of the steps taken by the back-end team to to ensure that high quality products are sold on Refabd ?
Refabd quality measures starts from procurement [sourcing] phase itself. Our in house technician/carpenter inspects the products and approves only if the product is sellable after minor repair/refurbishment. Once the products come to the warehouse, it undergoes following phases:
QC Stage – In this stage, the quality in terms of appearance and working is QC Stage – In this stage, the quality in terms of appearance and working is verified and the condition spec of the product along with QC report is generated
Cleaning/Refurbishment – Product is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly and minor refurbishment like polishing, change of plastic parts etc., are performed
Full Cycle Testing [FCT] – Full cycle functionality of the product is tested in this stage by simulating various scenarios. For example, the washing machines undergo a full spin test with clothes in it. All the aspects like noise, water leakage, vibration, power consumption etc., are checked in this phase and added to the QC report
Photography – In this stage, details images of the product is taken. The images show the defects very clearly if at all any.
Packaging – The products are packed carefully after the photography and moved to the delivery section
Product Upload – The product is uploaded to Refabd website. Complete Quality details of the product is shown in the website and what the customer sees in website is what he gets!
Who are the logistics partners of Refabd and how do you ensure that the ROR [Rate of Return] is kept to the minimum in order to maximize revenues.
Refabd manages the logistics on its own to provide quality service to its customers. We are very much flexible in terms of return and provides On the Spot Return if the appearance of the product does not match to customer expectation however is expected to go through the images and product description before purchase and also our customer care personnel explains about the condition of the product to the customer before delivery.
As Refabd is transparent on the product condition, returns are very less. Also inspite of carrying on all the expenses to ensure quality control, the sale price of Refabd goods is marked to, direct sellers of used goods online or offline, keeping the ROR balanced and providing value for money to buyers, ensuring higher sale values to provide return to Refabd investors.
Please walk us through funding of Refabd [Self/Angel/VC] and are you looking for external funding ?
Athamus Venture team invested to unlock the potential of Refabd Platform, it being attractive, unorthodox, and stressed on buy back and warranty issuance to be hallmark of the business. We are raising expansion capital now, to spread to at least 4 more cities like NCR, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai in next 6 months and 20 more cities by another 12 months.
Many e-commerce companies are now pushing for omni-channel Many e-commerce companies are now pushing for omni-channel presence, does Refabd also have plans to enter into offline as well [especially for big ticket items like Fridge, Washing Machine, Laptops,etc. or other items that require touch & fell] ?
Today, stress is to provide hassle free service though centralized warehouses, with doorstep pickup and delivery services to delight our customers on quality of product and services. We have innovative plans to fulfil the needs to give satisfaction of physical shopping experience going forward and shall be announced in 3 months time.
We would like to understand the customer [i.e. age, cities Tier-1,Tier-2, etc.] as well item demographics on Refabd ?
Refabd is operational only in Bengaluru as of now. Refabd caters to all income group customers with its used and unboxed products. Furniture is sold around the year and appliances demand varies based on season. In summer season refrigerator and ACs are sold more and in rainy season washing machines and ovens are sold more.
Does Refabd also provide ‘Try & Buy’ facility for its customers, especially items like clothing, shoes, etc.
We introduced On the Spot return in case of appearance mismatch and 7 days return in case of quality issue which is as good as Try and Buy.
Is Refabd a pure B2C marketplace for used goods or you also cater to the B2B segment ?
We are into B2B as well catering the needs of builders, rental companies & Startup Companies.
There is growing competition in used-goods marketplace where there are vertical marketplaces like Droom [Automobiles], GreenDust [electronics], GoZefo [Furniture], etc. and horizontal marketplaces like OLX, Quikr, Kraftly, etc. how does Refabd ensure that it stays ahead of the growing competition in providing excellent service [goods] at competitive pricing ?
We intend to keep our margins balanced, to reach out masses not only in Tier-1 but Tier-2 & 3 cities, coupled with fact that, Refabd has direct accountability to customer on each product sold makes us very different from our peers.
Do you have any tie-ups with e-commerce companies so that goods returned by the customer [reverse logistics] can be sold on your platform at a lesser price/as a used-item ?
We have tie up with e-commerce companies for sourcing used and unboxed products.
There is a section where ‘Unused Products’ [particularly electronics are sold], don’t you think that it would dilute the core offerings of Refabd which is into selling ‘Quality Refurbished Items’ ?
As said earlier, Refabd wants to cater all income group customers and also help the customer to upgrade their product as and when their income increases. The unboxed products help for this.
Customers who are planning to buy unused products can buy unboxed products from Refabd at around 70% of their budget. We ensure that unboxed products are in excellent condition w.r.t appearance and quality.
2017 so far has not been good for e-commerce companies – funds drying up, huge cash-burn; how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations ?
Lot of action is happening in e-commerce space, the business segment is evolving from its early days and maturing into set formats, players that provide quality service with the goods will evolve to fulfill the demands. It is difficult to comment on business model of larger formats right now, as they too are in a flux to compete even bigger challenges out.
Online commerce has been so far about discounting, customer acquisition, etc. how do you see 2017 panning out for the online commerce, hyper-local & used goods marketplace sector ?
e-commerce is here to stay and satisfy daily requirements of Indian population, the process business discrepancies have been rooted out to make businesses efficient, as long as e-commerce platforms sell ‘value for money’ goods and services they will find buyers and expand.
Initial customer acquisition is mostly built on discounting, any other methods that entrepreneurs can follow to gain more customers keeping the burn-rate to the minimum [ensuring that transactions are repetitive instead of one-time] ?
In addition to providing best value for money, quality of service, delivery and follow up maintenance will be the differentiators.
As per your entrepreneurial experience, when should an entrepreneur look out for external funding ?
When your idea starts generating cash flows to sustain itself organically and scaling/expansion can only be through external capitalization, to capture greater market share.
Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs you highly admire and some traits of theirs that you would like to imbibe.
Elon Musk – Determination, Dream Big and Curiosity to implement
Closing thoughts for our readers.
Chase your dreams and always remember that a very minute detail addition can bring so much of positive difference. Try to find out this small detail which is missing and add it to your solution and you will find growth.
We thank Rahul Kumar for sharing his insights with our readers. Do give Refabd a spin and share your experience in the comments section. If you have any questions for Rahul or the Refabd Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.
QwikSpec, an end-to-end real-estate site operations platform startup, which has consistently delivered significant time & money savings to its customers in the construction industry, has raised Rs. 3.5 crores in funding from a consortium of investors led by Brigade Innovations LLP. Other investors in the consortium include Mohandas Pai, Suhail Rahman, Director Asset Builders, Bobby Reddy of Indus Group, and UAE based private investor M George Oommen.
QwikSpec was one of the 5 companies that was part of the first batch of Brigade’s Real Estate Accelerator Program [REAP]. They are solving on-site challenges faced by project teams and are able to deliver tangible savings in time, money and improvements in quality. QwikSpec’s platform brings in transparency and accountability across all stakeholders in the construction process including contractors, sub-contractors and even customers.
With Brigade REAP’s domain knowledge and experience in real estate QwikSpec’s value proposition was sharpened significantly helping them improve their conversion rate from 30% to 70% in the fourth month of the program. We believe QwikSpec’s platform will become an imperative for the Real estate fraternity in the new regulatory environment of RERA.
The QwikSpec team has utilized their core domain expertise and strategic insights to develop a full-stack toolset for builders to optimize their operations from the bottoms-up. The workforce on-site constitutes nearly 95% of the total employee base in a construction company, while all existing enterprise applications cater to the 5% of the workforce that is off-site. This is the main reason why technology penetration in construction has been historically very low, and workforce productivity in the sector has remained stagnant over the last two decades.
With the sector seeing accelerated demand and the need for quality deliverables only increasing, such technology will offer real operational differentiation to its users, reduce costs, improve productivity and reduce time to market. QwikSpec will aim to work with lateral tools to become the center of this exciting universe of technology, and I am looking forward to the possibilities ahead.
QwikSpec was founded by Ajith Alexander and Roby Kurien in January 2015. Ajith worked with Cisco Systems, McKinsey & Co. and Nakheel Group in the past while Roby was associated with Motorola, Kyocera Wireless and Sirf Technologies.
On the company’s growth and expansion plans; Ajith Alexander, Co-Founder and Managing Director said
With over 120 projects across the entire lifecycle of construction right from excavation to handover and more than 10 million data-points, we have seen rapid adoption-QwikSpec doubled its monthly revenues in the last 6 months.
Our current clients include Tata Housing, Mahindra Lifespaces, Brigade Group, Mantri Developers, Prestige Group, Omkar Developers, Vaswani Group, etc. We will use the investment to significantly ramp up our technology capabilities as also invest in business development and customer acquisition. QwikSpec, being the leader in India, will continue to penetrate in the Indian market before looking at expanding to Middle East and South East Asian markets in the near future.
For more information about the startup, please visit QwikSpec
ICRIER, one of India’s leading think tanks, along with Broadband India Forumhave released findings of its study on ‘Estimating the Value of New Generation Internet based Application Services in India’.
As per the study, a 17% increase in the total internet traffic in India in 2015~16, contributed to an increase of Rs. 7 lakh crore in Gross Domestic Product [GDP], of which at least INR 1.4 lakh crores [US$ 20.4 billion] was due to Internet based app services.
This puts the Internet’s contribution to India’s GDP at about 5.6% in 2015~16. The contribution is estimated to grow to nearly 16% of the country’s GDP by 2020 or INR 36 lakh crores [USD 534 billion], of which apps will contribute about half.
The study was unveiled by Hon’ble Minister of Communications, Govt. of India, Shri Manoj Sinha in the presence of senior Government dignitaries from MeiTY, TRAI, Niti Aayog and champions of the broadband industry.
With internet penetration and the start-up ecosystem achieving critical mass, we felt the time was right to study the micro level impact of the internet services and apps on the country and define interventions needed for long term growth. Interestingly, we found that the ecosystem’s contribution went beyond just economic into social areas such as mainstreaming the differently abled and enabling women safety among others.
The study, beyond econometric estimations, also captures in-depth case studies of 16 service/app companies capturing impact generation at a micro level in key sectors of travel, healthcare, education, entertainment, utilities, digital payments, social, navigation and Government services. Companies covered include Makemytrip, Practo, PayTM, Urbanclap, Netflix, Wynk, Byju’s, Truecaller, farMart and MP Mobile.
The case studies bring alive different aspects of impact created, such as potential for increased income and job creation, easy access to credible information and Government services, lowering costs for buyers & sellers, creating a platform for smaller businesses and individuals to market their products and services, popularizing the use of vernacular language and enabling women safety among others.
Internet apps and services are disrupting traditional industries. Regulation, globally, is evolving to strike the right balance between protecting consumer/business interests and encouraging the ecosystem to innovate further. India needs to chart its own course from a policy/regulation perspective considering the significant higher impact on its economy. It needs to resist the temptation to follow global precedence or come up with defining laws without active stakeholder discussion.
The study also makes 10 recommendations on the demand and supply side to ensure long-term growth of the internet services and apps economy and its sustained contribution to India’s GDP.
ICRIER is an autonomous, policy-oriented, not-for-profit, economic policy think tank. ICRIER’s main focus is to enhance the knowledge content of policy making by undertaking analytical research that is targeted at informing India’s policy makers and also at improving the interface with the global economy. It has been ranked amongst the top 3 Indian Think Tanks World Wide by the 2016 Global Think Tank Index Report, University of Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit ICRIER
Be it movies or books, crime, detective and suspense category can give anyone goosebumps and an edge of the seat experience. How many of you got glued to the suspense portrayed in the 1990’s TV series Byomkesh Bakshi or have been on the edge of the seat while watching the Bollywood movie Bhoot. Like me, if you are also in awe with movies or books that fall into that category, then the book Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti by Nisha Singh might be of interest to you.
Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti is the second book by the author featuring the detective Bhrigu Mahesh and his friend Mahesh Sutte. Though it is the second book featuring the same characters, a good amount of detailing has been done in order to make the readers well-versed with them. The publisher is Partridge Publishing.
About the Author
Nisha Singh is the author of two books, namely ‘Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD- The Witch Of Sendukar’ and ‘Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti’. She is a crime fiction enthusiast who has written short stories for National Print Magazine and has contributed to a variety of online publications. Nisha is a prolific reader and writer and her stories have surprising endings. Nisha resides in Uttar Pradesh, India. You can read more about Nisha Singh here
Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti : Trailer
The central character of the book Bhrigu Mahesh is a private detective and a retired policeman. On this second adventure, he is called to help by a hapless, retired clerk named Nataraj Bhakti. Nataraj Bhakti approaches the detective because he thinks that he is being haunted by the spirit of his dead wife, Damayanti. He along with Sutte, his friend and trusted lieutenant travel to the village in order to solve this mystery. There are series of twists and turns, including the murder of a lady that keeps the suspense alive and manages to treat the readers with an edge of a seat experience.
So, would the detective be able to crack the case? What would be main motive behind the murder and all such lingering questions form the crux of the story. Mystery, Murder, and Religion are three keywords that make Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti an intriguing read !!
Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti : Detailed Review
As mentioned earlier, the central character of the novel is Bhrigu Mahesh, an ex-policeman turned detective. On the request of Nataraj Bhakti, Bhrigu and Sutte travel to his village Krishna Dwar to investigate the case. Nataraj stays in a village that is very popular for its temples and owns a large ancestral home. Both Brigu and Sutte take accommodation at his place and witness the unusual/haunting activity themselves.
As expected there is a new twist in the story when a member from Bhakti’s family is murdered and at this juncture, Brigu & his team needs to take a vital decision on whether they should catch the killer or risk the destruction of many innocent lives. Who is the killer of that woman, what about the haunting of Damayanti and all such questions are answered over the course of time.
Being a thriller, it is very important that the story is told at the right pace, characters are introduced at the right time and suspense is unfolded in pieces so that it provides an edge of the seat experience! Though sometimes the story becomes a bit slow, especially in the first half of the book, it does catch up in the latter half. Detailing is given to each and every character in the story. Overall, Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayanti definitely scores high in all the three important categories.
While reading the story, you can easily visualize the characters and the story is etched in your minds since it is told in a very subtle manner. Though this is the second installment of the Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD series, characters of Sutte and Mahesh Bhrigu are created with the finest detail which was very important for first-time readers. Being a thriller, we cannot be a spoilsport by revealing the ending but one thing which we can expect is a sequel to this story since the ending might surprise some set of readers 🙂
Bhrigu Mahesh, PhD – The Return of Damayantiis a well-etched thriller where each character is crafted to perfection. Being a thriller, it was very important that there are few characters in order to stick to the storyline and Nisha Singh has managed to deliver the same, that too with a punch! As you progress through the story, you might feel an adrenaline rush and anxiety about ‘What next’ 🙂 If you love reading thrillers, you should definitely not miss this one.
Your company has won a new contract and you are gearing to start the project. As a business project manager, before you chalk down the set of activities, tentative deliverables, roles & responsibilities of team members, risks, etc. it is very important to have a Kick-off meeting for the project. Kick-off meeting is an enthusiasm-generator for the customer and the team members involved in the project. As a project manager, you need to pull up your sleeves and plan activities using effective & productive project management tools so that you can focus on planning as well as execution.
One such platform is Wrike, a work management & collaboration platform used by high-performance teams. It is ideal for managing localized project teams as well as distritubuted teams. So, before you start working on your project planning, let’s have a look at some interesting tips for setting up a successful project kick-off!
Infographic brought to you by Wrike business project manager
Spam calls have been on the rise ever since the advent of mobile phones. In its strive towards protecting its users from unwanted calls and potential fraud, Truecaller released a report revealing the top 20 countries that have been most affected by spam calls in 2017.
One of the revelations that came from this report was that an overwhelming majority of spam calls were received by India. According to the report, India’s topped this list because its spam call issue majorly lies with operators and financial services, most of whom are seeking to provide special offers for free data, or unlimited calls.
Tying in for second place amongst top spam-plagued countries are The United States and Brazil. The report also divulges into common categories that tie all these spam calls together. These range over, operator, debt collection, bank, political, health, spam, telemarketing, financial service, scam and insurance.
top 100 spammers in each region for the month of May.
Nuisance: Due to this being a broad spectrum of calls, it is generally calls that is unwanted, disturbance for users, harassment, pranks.
Telemarketing: Promotional calls from companies, surveys, political/robo calls, new client outreach for services, subscriptions, etc.
Operator: Telecom companies upselling data plans, promotions, etc.
Financial service: Banks, credit unions, credit card companies etc.
Scam: Fraud attempts, money swindling, unknown links, etc.
Insurance: Companies that specialize in selling different types of insurances.
Debt collection: Organizations that specialize in payments of debts owed by individuals or businesses, bounty hunters.
Political: Campaign calls to secure votes for parties, robocalls.
To assist professionals impacted by the recent job cuts in India, professional training company Simplilearn, has announced the launch of Bounce Back Scholarships. The company will offer free access to online self-paced courses in the most sought after domains to help IT professionals build skills in new technologies and prepare for jobs of the future.
These courses are created by industry experts and provide the perfect blend of foundational knowledge and industry experience required to prepare for job roles in the digital economy. The company will offer courses in domains such as cloud computing, big data, analytics, project management, digital marketing, cyber security and more.
Our goal at Simplilearn is to help professionals and enterprises adapt to the changing digital economy through the right delivery of upskilling programs. Automation and newer technologies are forcing enterprises to re-look at their business and hiring strategies. The current environment has also led to enterprises looking for talent skilled in digital technologies. We hope the Bounce Back Scholarships will enable individuals to map their skill sets with these newer jobs and take charge of their careers.
The company is offering merit-based scholarships on all the courses that are delivered via online self-learning modules, excluding masters programs and courses covering examination fees. The last date to apply is August 31, 2017.
Simplilearn is the world’s largest provider of short term certification courses that addresses the unique learning needs of working professionals. Having trained over 4,00,000 professionals worldwide, it provides unmatched customer experience, which handholds a customer-right from enrolling into an online course to getting Industry-recognized certificate in hand. For more information, please visit SimpliLearn