Espark Viridian Accelerator [earlier covered here and here], a startup accelerator for early and growth seeking startups in-association with Headstart Network Foundation, brings a unique opportunity for all the aspiring entrepreneurs- SmartUp 2017. SmartUp is a Pan India Business Plan Competition that could help win a cash prize worth Rs 1.75 lakh, entry to Espark-Viridian’s accelerator program, live one-to-one mentoring, potential to raise seed investment, network with all the who’s who of the business world.

Image Source – ESpark Viridian

Espark-Viridian in association with Headstart Network are committed to promote entrepreneurship in India. Early stage startups having original idea and clear business model with significant market research are eligible to apply. Top 25 startups will be shortlisted by selected jury members. The event would culminate with two full days dedicated to one to one mentoring from national level mentors followed by a pitching session to top rated investors wherein one could get a chance to raise a seed investment. The deadline application submission is 25th September 2017.

Vibhuti Channa, Director, Espark Viridian Accelerator, said

We, at Espark-Viridan Accelerator believe that India has tremendous potential and startups are the future of business ecosystem. This is a one-of a–kind business plan competition for budding entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality. Besides a potential to raising seed investment, the startups will get the opportunity for one-to one mentorship.

Amit Singh, Co-founder & MD, Headstart Network, said

SmartUp 2017 is Espark-Viridian and Headstart’s endeavor to identify and nurture India’s young entrepreneurs who have the aspiration and ability to solve big problems through their ventures. With Espark-Viridian’s enablement led program and Headstart’s country wide network -we seek to make mentoring and funding accessible to the early stage startups.

Individuals with an idea and passion for entrepreneurship need to register at SmartUp 2017  for participation.

About Espark-Viridian

Espark-Viridian is a startup accelerator for early and growth seeking startups. We offer an up-to 18-month multi-center, multi-sector accelerator programme through 5 centres spread across Bangalore, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR. To know more, please visit Espark-Viridian

The Indian School of Business [ISB] and SAP Labs India have entered into a collaboration to nurture technology-based start-ups in the social space, focusing on ventures which are working in areas that have relevance to national priorities.

Image Source – Jumpstart Social Enterprise Accelerator

Titled Jumpstart Social Enterprise Accelerator, the programme aims to identify and support 10 early stage and 5 growth stage promising ventures by providing guidance, mentorship and scaling up their technology solutions that can bring about a large scale impact in the lives of common people. Start-ups targeting sectors such as education, healthcare, water & sanitation, energy, agriculture, financial technology, infrastructure, livelihoods and others are eligible to apply for the programme.

Sharing ISB’s objective in promoting the initiative, Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB said

ISB is committed to its goal of taking on a larger role of incubating and supporting entrepreneurial ideas as well as scaling up ventures that will potentially generate employment, foster economic and social progress and create significant social value for the country.

The ISB SAP Jumpstart accelerator programme is one such initiative to support promising entrepreneurs in thinking big and help scale their businesses to create impact in areas of national priority and help build a better tomorrow.

Dilipkumar Khandelwal, Managing Director of SAP Labs India & Executive Vice President, Enterprise Cloud Services, SAP SE said

We are pleased that the SAP ISB Social Enterprise Jumpstart program is growing to accommodate more social enterprises.  Through this initiative, we are supporting in creating investible and growth oriented social enterprises which can contribute to the economic development of our country.

The first cohort of this accelerator programme was launched in  July 2016 where ISB and SAP received 400+ applications from diverse sectors. Five early stage start-ups in the areas of financial technology, sustainable development & livelihood, agriculture and skill development were shortlisted and mentored. As a result, all the 5 ventures from the first cohort have scaled up their business operations, received funding or have been taken over.

How to apply for the Jumpstart Social Enterprise Accelerator

Start-ups will be short-listed through a nation-wide selection process based on their innovation, social impact and scalability. Shortlisted finalists would be invited for a business plan pitch and interview by a panel consisting of business experts, investors, faculty & members of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ISB, & SAP. To know more about the application process and criteria, click here

Conquest [earlier coverage here], India’s biggest student-run startup challenge has been centred over the years to provide a perfect platform for startups to prosper. With DCB Bank as the title sponsor, Conquest has become a paradise for startups, providing them with a chance to voice their ideas, network with industry leaders, and obtain incubation and funding opportunities.

Raising the standards set by previous editions, Conquest 2017, in association with Zoho, Accel, WNS and PayU, witnessed a participation of more than 1000 startups from across the nation. Startups from various sectors ranging from education, manufacturing, engineering to even virtual reality competed for a spot in the top 50. These applications were scrutinised based on 36 extensive parameters to shortlist the top 50 startups for personalised mentoring sessions.

Conquest provided these startups with an insightful experience and a networking opportunity by organising mentorship sessions in the 3 major cities of the country – Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

File Photo : Conquest

Mentors from various sectors provided their insights on various aspects of entrepreneurship: Fundraising, Product Management, Customer Acquisition, Tech, and Operations. Meera Iyer, CMO – Big Basket, Ashish Goel, Head of Product – Zomato and Suvonil Chatterjee, former CDO, Housing and Flipkart are some of the many esteemed mentors that provided guidance to participants on a one on one basis. The jury then selected the top 10 startups for the Grand Finale.

Here is a look at the top 10 startups that made the cut.

  • Incredible Devices Pvt. Ltd – Incredible Devices provides affordable treatment techniques for CVD, a disease with a fatality rate of 80%.
  • Recopro – Recopro’s recyclable paper pallets are cheaper, stronger and greener than the traditional wood counterparts.
  • Drone Nation – Drone Nation is an aerial data solutions company providing end to end solutions using custom-built drone hardware and software technologies.
  • Dcoder – Dcoder lets you code anywhere, anytime through its mobile coding platform.
  • JuiceWorx – JuiceWorx is working on an IoT led beverage dispensing technology that gives enhanced experience and greater health benefits to users.
  • Adloid – Adloid is a trail AR platform where you can try a product before buying- just by using your phone.
  • Trell – Trell has built a 170K strong community for millennials to discover and share local explorations.
  • Be-Hold – Be-Hold is a glove designed to function as a phone for the visually impaired.
  • Clodura – Clodura uses technology to help you find high value leads which are more likely to close!
  • Aquivio – Aquvio has revolutionised Reverse Osmosis based water purifiers by minimising the
    waste-water generated.

The top 10 will take the stage in the Grand Finale, to be held on 3rd September at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. The finalists will pitch their ideas in front of of the panel of investors and VCs, as they try to captivate the imagination of potential investors.

The Finale is going to a ensemble of the some the the biggest names in the startup industry, along with some future greats to watch out for. The Grand Finale of Conquest has the reputation of being a star studded networking event, with attendance from numerous industry stalwarts.

Previous editions have witnessed attendance from the likes of R. Chandrashekhar, President – NASSCOM, Padmaja Ruparel, President – Indian Angel Network, Sanjay Nath, Managing Partner – Blume Ventures and Nilesh Kothari, Managing Partner – Trifecta Capital Registrations for attending the Grand Finale are now open. Register on Conquest for a chance to network with the best names in the industry.

Techstars announced the launch of Techstars India as a joint venture company in partnership with ANSR. Headquartered in Bengaluru, ANSR builds and operates GICs and captive centres for some of the leading global companies from the retail, fintech, healthcare and media domains.

Image Source – Techstars

The ANSR partnership will provide Techstars with a very strong foundation to launch its Indian operations. Having partnered with 27 leading global enterprises, ANSR is the world’s largest company for establishing and operating captive center service delivery capabilities for global enterprises in support of their growth, transformation and innovation agenda. ANSR, through its innovation arm, Kyron, also operates startup led innovation programs for its corporate partners including Target, L-Brands, Lowes and Swiss Re.

With this launch, Techstars is adding India to its international roster, bolstering India’s position as a leading global startup ecosystem. India, known for its dominant role in the IT industry and home to captive centers for over 1,000 global enterprises, is rapidly gaining traction as an entrepreneurial hub. Techstars operates worldwide and across the US, including Adelaide, Austin, Berlin, Boston, Boulder, Cape Town, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York City, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Seattle, Tel Aviv, and Toronto, and has accepted over 1000 companies globally into its programs. Collectively, these companies have raised over USD 3.8B USD and have a market cap of over USD 9.9B. The launch of Techstars India will provide Techstars access to India’s rapidly growing startup and entrepreneur network as well as global enterprises that have established captive centers and startup led corporate innovation programs with ANSR and its innovation arm, Kyron Global.

[L-R] David Cohen Co-CEO – Techstars, Lalit Ahuja, CEO – ANSR, David Brown, Co-CEO – Techstars

David Brown, Co-CEO of Techstars, said

We have been watching India’s growth very closely and its emergence as the third largest global startup ecosystem in less than a decade. There’s so much great activity here and the potential for growth is huge, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. I think in addition to that, India’s prime minister underlining the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in giving productive outlets to the country’s talent is very positive. It’s heartening to see tech evangelists work closely with the government to lay out a digital infrastructure for the country which startups then can leverage. India is on a tech, digital and startup mission of sorts.

This has been a big year for Techstars. We’re 10 years old and have now seen over 1,000 companies in Techstars’ mentorship-driven accelerator programs worldwide. We are excited to announce the addition of Techstars India to the Techstars Worldwide Network.

Lalit Ahuja, CEO, ANSR said

ANSR is very excited to partner with Techstars to launch Techstars India. We believe that this is an event of national importance and a huge validation of India’s position as a leading global hub for entrepreneurial activity. The launch of Techstars India will provide an impetus to the rapidly growing startup ecosystem and the emergence of India as a dominant entrepreneurial network. This launch brings to fruition ANSR and Kyron’s pioneering efforts to successfully create a startup corporate engagement corridor towards the emergence of India’s largest startup led corporate innovation platform.

Speaking at the event, Priyank Kharge, Minister of IT, BT & Tourism said

The Government of Karnataka is focused on building a bolder and structured ecosystem and the collaboration with Techstars is exactly what the Government requires and is the right step forward. Karnataka is India’s second largest technology hub and this is validated by the fact that we have all the Fortune 500 companies. Propelled by government policies in the last 3 months, more than 3200 startups have registered with the government. We are also coming up with numerous Centres of Excellence and by the end of August we will have India’s first Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence. Karnataka today has reached its maturity as a services industry and now moving forward to R&D and innovation.

About Techstars

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners who will help their companies grow. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund. Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Program supercharges success and Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit Techstars

About ANSR

Backed by Accel Partners and Infosys and headquartered in Dallas, TX, ANSR is a global leader in establishing, operating and optimizing Global In-House Centers ‘GICs’ and provides end-to-end solutions to enterprises across the GIC life-cycle. Through Kyron, its innovation arm, ANSR also operates Innovation/Corporate Accelerator Programs. For more information, please visit ANSR

Conquest, BITS Pilani’s International Startup Challenge, hosted its first networking session in the city at the Accel Office in Koramangala. Conquest, backed by DCB Bank, serves as a brilliant launchpad for emerging startups across the country.

Source – LetsVenture

As part of the mentoring sessions, the participants were provided with expert guidance from industry leaders. Some noteworthy mentors include Brijesh Bhardwaj, Product Manager at Hike, Suvonil Chatterjee, ex-CDO Housing and Flipkart and current advisor at Unacademy, Abhishek Nayak, CEO, Bicycle AI and Rishabh Kaul, CEO, Belong.

Expressing her views on the Networking Sessions, Meera Iyer, CMO at BigBasket and one of the mentors, said

For an economy to be sustainable, it needs to nurture the culture of new setups and new constructs surfacing constantly, and I feel that these mentoring sessions wherein such ideas and the youths behind them are groomed, is a really strong medium to connect to. This sharing of ideas also has mutual benefits, helping me in ideate on similar lines and implement them in my daily life.

Conquest, through its tie-ups with incubators and investment firms across the country, offers funding and incubation opportunities for participating startups. The top startups at Conquest receive, in addition to USD 1M worth resources, Rs 3 lakh worth of equity-less funding.

Conquest 2017, in association with Zoho, Accel, WNS and PayU, witnessed a participation of more than 1000 startups from across the nation. These applications were scrutinized based on their models, sustainability, user traction and a number of other parameters, after which, the top 50 were shortlisted for the Networking Sessions held in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Fundraising, Product Management, Customer Acquisition, Tech, and Scaling up & Operations comprise the five categories in which the startups received expert guidance from the mentors.

Two more mentoring sessions were organised by the Conquest team, in New Delhi and Mumbai. Now the participants await the announcement of the coveted spot in the top 10 startups of Conquest 2017. The finalists will then present their ideas before the jury at the Grand Finale to be held on 27 August at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi.

Talking about the mentoring sessions, one of the mentee start-ups said

I was pleasantly surprised by the paramount expertise and brilliant insights offered by the mentors. Not only were the mentors willing to hear us out, but also agreed to keep in touch after the sessions. I look forward to setting up a meeting with them.

The Grand Finale of Conquest has the reputation of being a star studded networking event, with attendance from numerous industry stalwarts. Previous editions have witnessed attendance from the likes of R. Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network, Sanjay Nath, Managing Partner, Blume Ventures and Nilesh Kothari, Managing Partner, Trifecta Capital. With two insightful panel discussions, fishbowl sessions open to the audience and a networking lunch with industry leaders, the finale fulfills any startup enthusiast’s dream.

For more details on the process of Conquest and the Grand Finale, visit Conquest official website.

Owning a home is everyone’s dream but choosing the right builder, right locality is a herculean task. Not to mention that ‘Budget’ also takes a higher priority since even if you like a particular flat, it may/may not fall into your budget. On one hand there are some builders who charge ‘Premium’ for their flat since they are well-known brands and have a massive brand recall, on the other hand there are ‘Aspiring’ companies/builders that offer the best quality homes at reasonable price so that ‘Benefits’ are passed on the customer!

Image Source – Builders

It is also a known fact that most of the construction projects get delayed due to rising cost of raw materials, approvals, etc. hence a builder that aims to deliver ‘Quality’ projects on-time would always have an upper-hand over its competitors. One such company is Kumari Builders and Developers that has successfully completed couple of residential projects in Bengaluru.

Today we have a chat with Ashok Naidu, Director, Kumari Builders and Developers about brand Kumari, his journey, learnings in scaling Kumari, Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, etc.  So let’s get started with the Q&A…

Let’s rewind the clock, can you take us through the notable experiences of your professional journey [so far with Kumari Builders].

There is a lot that I learnt from my father when I joined. I enjoyed every phase when he handed over more responsibilities to me. During the initial stages of my career, I reduced the procurement time of cement materials from 15 days to 5 days by streamlining the entire process by directly dealing with manufacturers than dealers. I received special appreciation from my father and was handed over responsibilities of purchase department too. This was an important milestone for me.

Planning and designing Kumari Amaranthine is another noteworthy experience. This project is designed to obtain platinum certification under Indian Green Building Council’s Green Homes Rating System and is environmentally responsive. Projects such as these require more initial investment and may not necessarily bring in more profits. So when my brother and I proposed this project to my father, we were worried that he may not give the go-ahead as he is a no non-sense person when it comes to finances. Not only did he agree to the proposal, but he asked my brother not to over price it like projects of similar nature.

Considering your experience [with Kumari combined with your father’s exp in same business], how has the construction business evolved over the last couple of years.

The real estate segment is getting more regularized every year. We could practically start construction and finish it with just 15~25% of initial investment up to the late 2000’s. It is not so any more. You can only sustain if you have adequate primary funds. The power is gradually shifting from developers to consumers.

You have been an integral part of the journey at Kumari Builders which was started by your father, can you please highlight key pillars of the group.

We deliver whatever we promise without any compromise, we also make sure that we deliver on time. My father places a lot of emphasis on quality irrespective of the pricing of the apartment.

Since primary foothold of Kumari Builders is in Bengaluru [which is known for its tech], what are some of the technological advancements used by your group in order to cater to this ‘tech obsessed audience’ ?

A recent technology that we have implemented in our all projects is MSDD connection. It integrates FTTH [internet], CCTV and DTH in to one single circuit. The advantages are multi-fold – we can use multi DTH’s connection without extra wiring; no separate antenna is required and you can access CCTV footage at the entrance – you can watch your kids activities in the play area through your television. It offers faster internet as well. This is going to be a mandatory element in all of our future projects. In fact, in one of our projects in Whitefield that has a day care facility, we have installed CCTV and the parents can check on the children from their offices on their mobile phones.

Ashok Naidu, Director – Kumari Builders And Developers

Can you please list some of the noted projects of Kumari Builders and some of the USP’s of these projects ?

Kumari Woods and Winds and Kumari Amaranthine. Kumari Amaranthine is designed to obtain platinum certification under Indian Green Building Council’s Green Homes Rating System and is environmentally responsive with many sustainable features. At the same time it is not overpriced like projects of similar nature.

Kumari Woods and Winds is designed as a home for all age groups. It is located in Whitefield. The project includes a day care for working parents, amenities that keep the children busy during weekends and numerous features for the elderly as well.

Most of your residential projects are close to tech parks, hospitals, etc. where land rates will be high, but Kumari Builders offers flats at the best rates, how does Kumari Builders ensure that you deliver the best quality at much lesser rate ?

We follow a philosophy of ‘higher turnover and lower profit margins’ unlike the norm which is ‘lower turnover and higher profit margins’. That’s how we are about to launch our 13th project in just about 4 years.

How important is Post-Sales Support and what are Kumari’s methodologies to provide best Buying Experience to its customers ?

Most of our customers are from IT who are pressed for time. For them time is equivalent to money. Customer care is directly operated under the Director, which translates to quicker and better response.

Kumari Builders’s journey started with Anantapur district, how different is real estate business in smaller cities vis-a-vis bigger cities like Bengaluru ?

The basics are always same.  Customer trust is much easily obtained in towns and smaller cities than in metropolitan cities.

With good success ratio in residential projects, what is the next growth plan for Kumari [Villa, expansion to newer cities in South India, etc.] ?  

We will be entering the villa and plot segment, but our target audience will remain the same – young working professionals.

What are some of the marketing strategies used by Kumari Builders in order to market its projects ?

We do not believe in mere marketing strategies. We always strive to provide a great product at a competitive price. That’s what sells our projects despite not going in for a huge marketing spend.

Your thoughts on the Real Estate Regulatory Act Bill [RERA], benefits for customers and how it might have an effect on the Real Estate Projects ?

We have noticed a number of reforms and policies lately that are trying to regularize the real estate sector in India. RERA is a real game changer. Implementation of RERA offers protection and faith to home-buyers and investors. From an industry point of view, it can have some implications on completed yet unsold, ongoing and new projects.

The frequency of new project launches might lessen for a year. A decrease in supply may lead to increase in prices and also result in unsold inventory moving faster. Hence the sales of existing inventory may go up, but eventually it will reduce.

The latest regulations that call for firmer compliance and transparency may push real estate prices up. Some of the other reasons for the price rise include increase in construction costs due to the pressure to deliver projects on time irrespective of delayed material supply by vendors, contractor delays, natural disturbances, low sales or any other factors. 

It is well-known that projects in prime areas generates faster sales than projects elsewhere. In fact, sales pick up mostly during the ready-to-move-in phase. It is not uncommon for developers to divert some of the fund flows from prime location projects to non-prime ones until the sales pick up. This would not be possible now due to restriction of fund flows up to 70% through maintenance of separate accounts.

An artist’s impression of Kumari Amaranthine in Bellandur

Can you comment on the PM’s mission of Housing for All and how builders [both big, mid and small builders] can turn this dream into reality ?

Building 2 crore homes is a herculean task and hence government has preferred a public-private partnership for these massive undertakings. This is a welcome move.

Most of the real-estate companies have Celebrity Brand Ambassadors, how much does it help companies [builders] to build a vibrant brand with celebrities on board ?

It’s just one of marketing strategies. Customers are better educated now. They can go beyond fancy marketing campaigns and look at the product itself. Customers would prefer a competitively priced better product than a normal product fancily marketed.

There has been lot of advancements in real estate like Precast, etc. how according to you can builders make best use of them in order to reduce TAT and deliver quality projects [at best prices] ?

I am happy to see that many builders are using advancements such as Precast and Mivan in construction technologies in recent years to reduce delivery time and improve standards in quality.  However, not every advancement is suitable for every project. For example, precast is only affordable for bigger projects.

T. Ashok Naidu, you joined your family business at a very young age [and most of your staff is below 35 years of age], how do you keep your young team motivated and how much does having younger team members help in building a vibrant company ?

We do have a few experienced employees at higher levels. However, 90% of our team including my brother and I are below 35.  Since most of the target customers we work for are below 35, we feel that employees of the same age group can understand and communicate with our customers better.

We hire staff who hold the same kind of ethos. It’s easy to be motivated when you work for what you believe in.

With GST implementation just around the corner, what is the impact that GST would have on property rates and the overall real estate sector.

Unlike the previous tax regime, GST allows input for tax credits on construction materials which is a boon for developers.  Apart from simplifying the whole mechanism of taxation, it also brings the much-needed transparency into the sector. GST will not have a significant bearing on the pricing for property buyers.

How different is managing family business [since you are not a founder but have to think & act in an Entrepreneurial manner] and can you share some tips for entrepreneurs who are managing family businesses ?

Youngsters are fresh with new ideas and can quickly embrace changes unlike the founders or the elders in a family business. It is essential to learn from the experiences of the founders, while at the same changing with the times. It’s important to introduce changes gradually so it doesn’t upset the structure of the organisation.

Educability is a common trait among youngsters. Patience is an important value that the young generation needs to practice to manage a business successfully.

Family businesses need to embrace change (especially when baton is handed over to the next gen), how do you inculcate such values in Kumari and at the same time ensure to learn from the experience of your father [who founded the company] ?

Any business needs to embrace change and keep up with times to stay relevant. Embracing change is easier in family businesses. We make sure the change is gradual and streamlined rather than abrupt and radical and also in conjunction to the values of the founder.

Some books that you read and recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs ?

I have a lot of favourites but the one that I would really recommend is Purple Cow. It is an eye-opener on how to create something noticeable in everything you do.

We thank T. Ashok Naidu for sharing his valuable insights with our readers. If you have any questions for him or the Kumari Builders team or you are an existing customer of Kumari Builders, please leave your feedback/question in the comments section or share them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com

The famous lines by Henry Ford – Founder of Ford Motors ‘Failure is simply the opportunity to being again, this time more intelligently’ helps us inculcate a sense of positivity beneath us. Failure acts as a teacher in life which helps us determine the mistakes and move on. I always get inspired by the success stories of peoples who wrote their own fortune and proved themselves to the world with their achievements. Some of the examples of such entrepreneurs that must be revised are of Jack Ma [founder of Alibaba], Steve Jobs, J.K Rowling and Henry Ford who pulled out their success from failures.

Total Processing has done a great job by creating an infographic of quotes said by Successful entrepreneurs and I am delighted to bring this infographic to my readers which will play an important role in motivating the startups to stand out from their failures. Do check out the infographic 45 Legendary Quotes from Successful Entrepreneurs for your before starting your MSME business.

Note : The content has been reproduced on the blog with consent from Total Processing

Source – Total Processing

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]. With the increased penetration of 4G, falling rates of smartphone [at least before GST goes live], increase in disposable income, etc. more & more Indians prefer the online medium for shopping. This is mainly due to the hefty discounts offered by online retailers, ease, convenience and experience associated with online shopping

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, musical instruments, etc.

Currently sellers don’t get enough Ad displays despite paying for Premium ads due to very high volume in paid category as well. These are some of the lingering problems that Zamroo, a startup in the C2C segment aims to solve. Zamroo is to a one stop shop for buying and selling used products where practically anyone can trade anything, anytime, anywhere in India.

Today we have a chat with Rakesh Kapoor, Founder & CEO of Zamroo. So lets get started with the Q&A…

How did you come up with the idea of venturing into used goods marketplace ?

I came up with this idea while I was working in Australia, for example if you wish to change a car, or replace your existing furniture in Australia, it just takes less than 24 hours to sell yours and buy new one by using similar platform like Gumtree and it was unbelievable simple and straight forward. We had huge number of professionals which were on the move, for them buying new products was not making sense, hence they can buy everything which a typical household needs in fraction of the original cost and they resell it again when they are leaving. Another fact of C2C space is in the western world 60% of the population uses these platforms on the monthly basis, that shows the importance of these platforms.

That’s where we got the idea and felt that it is a necessity of having similar platform in India and we started working on the same and build Zamroo ground up taking into account Indian behavioral eco system. Indian C2C market is still at nascent stage as even today we have less than 4-5% of population using such systems due to limited number of platforms and the awareness of such platforms especially in Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities

Can you share some details about the team behind Zamroo ?

Zamroo team are a tight knit group of business leaders, techies with average experience of 20+ years globally.

How much is the overall market size of used goods marketplace ?

USD 75 billion as per KPMG report.

What are some of the items that can be sold on Zamroo ?

‘One can sell from needle to aeroplane on Zamroo’…thats you can find in our tagline “Everything Sells”. You can download the Zamroo app from Google Playstore or Apple store here and here

 

Zamroo is a very different name, can you let us know how did you come up with that name and what are some of the options that were considered in naming the startup.

Finalizing a name took us more than 2 months of extensive research as we wanted a name which is short, distinctive, easy to pronounce, easy to memorize & should be easily convertible into foreign languages. Lastly it should be capable of legal protection and registration.

On all these parameters set by us….Zamroo name fits perfectly.

Snapdeal acquired used goods marketplace Shopo couple of years back, but the idea did not take off. What according to you are some of the USP’s of Zamroo from other such sites like Ebay, Greendust, OLX, etc.

There are couple of unique buying and selling patterns of Indians, for e.g. They want to sell 4 Lac rupees item [eg. Car, etc.] but do not want to spend 2 minutes in Ad listing which is very unique to Indian consumers. To address these concerns we have build our mobile apps uniquely i.e. They can Post Ad in just less than 30 seconds while we capture all the possible information from the seller which are likely help buyers to make a deal. Additionally we are working on few unique features for safe buying and selling and to build trust in Zamroo community.

What are some of the mediums i.e. WhatsApp, Twitter, etc. via where sellers can sell/post goods [for sale] on Zamroo ?

Currently sellers can post their listings via Web, iOS app and Android app….that too in less than 30 seconds however they can share their listings via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Whatsapp in one single click.

Rakesh Kapoor, Founder & CEO – Zamroo.com

Can you stress on some of the steps taken by the back-end team to ensure that high quality products are sold on Zamroo ?

Zamroo has built the automation system which ensures that unauthorized listings are not published, we have a quality control team which reviews these listings and based on its credentials either it is rejected or approved. All these listings are reviewed individually.

Who are the logistics partners of Zamroo and how do you ensure that the ROR [Rate Of Return] is kept to the minimum in order to maximize revenues ?

Zamroo is online marketplace for used goods, if buyer is interested they can connect with sellers directly over phone, email, SMS and decide the next course of action i.e. They can have the negotiations among them and Zamroo is not involved in that discussion. Zamroo does not charge any fees either from the buyers or the sellers.

Please walk us through funding of Zamroo [Self/Angel/VC] and are you looking out for external funding ?

Currently Zamroo is self funded by the promoters as we believe that India has huge market for such product, hence promoters not only infused the funds but also invested three years of their time to build the world class product.

As Zamroo is now expanding, we are seeking Series-A funding from Investors.

Many e-commerce companies are now pushing for omni-channel presence, does Zamroo 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 & feel] ?

Yes, Zamroo also has plan where sellers can leave their product and buyers can view that item in that shop/warehouse and if they liked the product they can buy the product then and their itself. With this approach sellers and buyers are safe and it will be hassle free for both the parties.

We would like to understand the customer [i.e. Age, Cities Tier-I,Tier-II, etc.] as well item demographics on Zamroo i.e. Which items sell the most on Zamroo and where does the major chunk of active customers come from on Zamroo.

Till recently our majority of the visitors were coming from Tier-1 cities however we are seeing increase in traffic by 30% from Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities since last 2-3 months as acceptance of digital platforms got the boost after demonetization. Most of the customers visiting Zamroo are less than 35 years old.

Does Zamroo also provide ‘Try & Buy’ facility for it’s customers especially items like clothing, shoes, etc.

No, Zamroo doesn’t offer any such service as most of the products sold on Zamroo are used products.

Is Zamroo a pure C2C [Peer-To-Peer] marketplace for used goods or you also stock fast-shipping items in the warehouse ?

Zamroo is pure C2C marketplace for used goods; we do not stock any item in the warehouse whatsoever.

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 Zamroo ensure that it stays ahead of the growing competition in providing excellent service [goods] at competitive pricing ?

Zamroo platform is already ahead of the competition, we are continuously innovating new ideas and our team is working hard to ensure that we stay ahead of the curve in terms of technologies, customer service and innovation.

2017 so far has not been good for e-commerce with Snapdeal laying off employees, funds drying up, huge cash-burn; how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations.

There are serious flaws in various business models especially in eCommerce [B2C] space which looks very attractive on papers but actually they are not; typical examples are Flipkart, Snapdeal. More importantly we feel they have excess manpower, hence you are seeing those corrections at the moment.

Media to some extent has been responsible for rise of entrepreneurs, but they focus on valuations whereas there are many bootstrapped entrepreneurs who are not looked on, any tips on how media can do a better job of focusing on right stuff ?

Yes, we agree. Media plays a big role in the rise of entrepreneurship but they are just focusing on valuations rather than the product or it’s potential. For example, in India in C2C used goods space we only have OLX & Quikr and India needs at least 6~7 more credible players to address the market requirements as on every 20 million population one such platform is needed.

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 ?

Let us give you our view point on each of these sub-verticals individually

Online Commerce – We need more online commerce players as we still have less than 10% online users visiting these platforms. If they promote their products in Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities their volumes can grow by 25-30% YOY.

Hyper-local – It’s not taking off as most of these companies are engaging the local service guys to provide service, they need to change the strategy for e.g. They should provide training to these service providers on regular basis, get the security checks done for them and also provide them the training to enhance the skills, than only they can maintain the quality.

Used goods marketplace – There is huge potential in this space as we still have less than 5% Internet users using these platforms, despite we have only 5% users using these platforms they are oversubscribed. For example, If you post your Ad on top two platforms, your Ad will be on 4th or 5th page in less than 15 minutes, which reduces your chances of selling. This even applies to Paid Listings, so the sellers are looking for more alternatives to list their products that’s where Zamroo perfectly fits in.

Initial customer acquisition is mostly built on discounting model, 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].

As Zamroo is an online marketplace for used goods and transaction is happening between buyers and sellers directly, hence discounting doesn’t apply to us. Zamroo has more than 38,000 sellers signed up on the platform, primarily by social media and SEO only and we haven’t burnt huge cash as competitors did to attract customers as we believe in quality of our product and need of the market.

There has been lot of hue & cry about capital dumping, can you share your views on the same [and how fierce competition is necessary for the upliftment of the online sector] ?

We don’t think Indian companies are used for capital dumping, in our view investments by foreign investors should be used for building world class product and taking it to global level. We can also build another Microsoft & Google if investors are little visionary.

As per your entrepreneurial experience, when should an entrepreneur look out for external funding ?

The right stage for external funding is when the company is in early stages of revenue growth.

Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs

I would like to recommend Zero to One by Peter Thiel & The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

Entrepreneurs you highly admire and some traits of their’s that you would like to imbibe.

John Gabbert of Pitchbook and I admire him greatly for his perseverance, persistence.

Any closing thoughts for our readers ?

For Entrepreneurs, no matter what how difficult is the economy or getting the investors in the difficult times, at the end of the day good product, good management team, right product will always get funded.

We thank Rakesh Kapoor for sharing his insights with our readers. You can access Zamroo via Web, Zamroo iOS App and Zamroo Android App. Do give Zamroo a spin and share your experience in the comments section. If you have any questions for Rakesh & Zamroo Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.