Aafter the advent of the Digital Economy, ‘Data’ has become more important than ever before. There is a common saying – Data is the new Oil and a very valuable asset and hence it becomes primarily important for enterprises to ensure that customers’ data is safe and is periodically backed up. From an end consumer’s point of view, utmost care has to be taken to ensure that the data on their laptops, mobiles, etc. is safe so that chances of compromising data are very slim! Quantum, a US-based storage company is a leading expert in scale-out tiered storage, archive, and data protection, providing solutions for capturing, sharing and preserving digital assets over the entire data life-cycle have come.
From small businesses to major enterprises, more than 100,000 customers have trusted Quantum to address their most demanding data workflow challenges. Quantum’s end-to-end, tiered storage foundation enables customers to maximize the value of their data by making it accessible whenever and wherever needed, retaining it indefinitely and reducing total cost and complexity. We had a detailed interaction with Mr. Jim Simon, Senior Director of Asia-Pacific Marketing at Quantum Corporation where we discussed about the storage solutions from Quantum, their offerings for SME’s, best practices w.r.t data security, Quantum in India, etc.
Off late there has been a lot of ransomware attacks, can you please stress upon on how solutions from Quantum can help companies facing such outages and how safe is it for a company which is into Fintech, e-commerce, etc. to move to the cloud only approach?
Quantum recommends a ‘3-2-1 backup best practice‘: 3 copies of your data, 2 different types of media & 1 copy offline/offsite.
Offsite could include cloud. However, for maximum protection, having an offsite copy in a non-connected location will ensure that if a virus infects a network, the offline copy will be immune.
Quantum’s solutions include one or more media such as flash, disk, object storage, and tape. Tape is particularly suited for keeping an offsite copy of one’s data, out of reach of ransomware viruses.
Which are some of the industries/verticals that currently use Quantum Storage solutions, please give some insights into Indian customers?
Quantum’s solutions are used by all types of customers since these customers have IT departments who rely on Quantum for backup, recovery, and archive.
In addition, Quantum’s workflow storage solutions are especially well-known in vertical markets such as media/entertainment, surveillance/security, oil/gas, high-performance computing, etc. Each of these markets has a common workflow such as ingest, edit/use, share, and preserve. Each has large streams of data that require high performance ingest and data access while needing sharing [such as via cloud] and low-cost preservation.
How can SME’s and startups leverage the capabilities of solutions from Quantum, Q-Cloud in order to scale their operations and reduce the overall Time to market
For SMEs, Quantum’s DXi family has built-in replication to Q-Cloud which is built on Amazon Web Services. In other words, we take care of all the hard work so our customers just need to select Q-Cloud as a secondary offsite copy for their data and we bill them on a consumption basis. In the meantime, for day to day recovery, it is fast and simple as local copies of backup data reside on the local DXi appliance(s) or on a customer’s own server employing our DXi software-only approach.
Many Indian corporations and growth stage companies are setting up their own Data Center [citing security and scalability reasons], can you share some thoughts on the same and how overall solutions from Quantum can help the Indian unicorns/growth stage companies
Most of our customers have their own data centers. The key questions to ask include:
How is their primary data backed up for quick, local restores?
How is their primary data backed up offsite for recovery in case of a disaster?
Is there less valuable primary data residing on expensive primary storage?
Quantum and DataFrameworks can highlight data that would be better suited for storage on low-cost disk, object storage, or file-based tape thereby saving IT organizations tremendous investment in unnecessary excess primary storage, not to mention power and cooling.
Please share some details about the Indian subsidiary of Quantum [employee size, innovation, market it addresses, etc.]
Quantum has been operating in India for nearly two decades. We have pre-sales, sales, and post-sales team members in our offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
What are the next big innovations which we can expect in the near future from Quantum or something which is happening in the area of Storage, Security, Connected computing, etc.?
Quantum is working on a software designed storage initiative known as Castle. We aim for storage to be agile and able to evolve while managing it should be ‘a piece of cake’
There is a huge amount of thrust about Digital Media [epecially after the advent of 4G in India], which means more content creation companies. How can Digital Content/Digital broadcast companies leverage the strength of suite of solutions from Quantum
Both agencies and clients understand the importance of video and digital media to a standout content plan. They know it’s difficult to create, distribute, and repurpose digital content effectively, especially when dealing with large, rich media files. The demand for content from their growing base of clients can quickly outpace their ability to manage it on the back end.
An Effective Content Plan Requires an End-to-end Approach. We help agencies and clients from concept to creation to distribution to repurposing and remonetizing their media.
Can you share some insights into the storage scenario in Asia and globally
Data is an ever-increasingly valuable asset to organizations both big and small. Recent ransomware attacks have demonstrated how the loss of data [or data access] can cripple an organization. The value of data is expected to continue to grow as digital overtakes physical. This, in turn, will drive demand for high-performance primary storage as well as always-accessible low-cost storage.
How has the year 2017 been so far for Quantum, can you summarize the technical developments that your company has achieved in this year.
Earlier this month, Quantum announced the general availability of StorNext 6, a major new release of the company’s scale-out storage technology. StorNext 6 delivers a unique combination of new advanced data management features for on-premise, hybrid cloud & public cloud environments and industry-leading streaming performance. StorNext 6 is now shipping with the company’s Xcellis® workflow storage solutions, enabling users to overcome the limitations of traditional NAS systems in keeping up with the demands of large, rapidly growing data-intensive workloads and driving business value from that data.
This latest StorNext release provides more efficient and cost-effective ways to share and access files across geographically distributed teams, to manage and protect archived data, and to audit changes to data throughout its lifecycle.
Some of the competitors of Quantum and how offerings from Quantum stand vis-a-vis its nearest competitors [pricing, core offerings, SAN, etc.]
Quantum has a long history of competing against the likes of Dell/EMC, HP, IBM, and NetApp. Unlike those generalists, Quantum is a data workflow specialist. Therefore, those with the most challenging data workflow needs to rely on Quantum to achieve their mission whether it is a government space agency, a film production company, a university bio-research team, an airport, or IT data centers.
We thank Jim for his time and sharing his valuable insights with our readers. If you have any questions about Quantum, their solutions and how it can help accelerate your business, etc. do email them to email@example.com or leave them in the comments section…
Fintech is having a huge impact on the financial services in India. It has been largely dominated by the lending and payments companies in India. Initiatives like the India Stack [UPI, e-KYC, Aadhar] by National Payments Corporation Of India [NPCI] have been instrumental in leading the Fintech revolution.
Many of the fintech companies are leveraging Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Social Data Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. in order to solve critical business problems. For example, with the help of AI, contextual data and transaction data, your wealth managers can come up with a ‘more relevant’ financial plan that suits your requirements.
When we talk about Money, the immediate thought that comes to our minds is ‘How to I multiply wealth via good investments‘. There are significant number of investment options available in the market but the option that you choose depends on factors like your age, dependencies, exisiting investment portfolio, risk apetite, etc. One good investment option is ‘Mutual Funds‘ but as per a report, India’s Assets under management (AUM) to GDP ratio is only 9 percent which is significantly lower as compared to other developed/developing contries. The bright side about this report is that there are rising number of people interested to invest in Mutual Funds given that they get proper hand-holding and guidance.
This is the problem that founders of WealthApp, a Fintech startup aim to solve by amalgamating their vast knowledge in personal finance with technologies like AI, Machine Learning, etc. Today we have a chat with Gaurav Dhawan, Co-founder & Director of WealthApp about WealthApp, Fintech, Personal Finance, etc.
How did you come up with the idea of WealthApp ?
We are ex-bankers from Citi who have decades of experience in personal financial management of individuals across net-worth segments. We understand that while people with higher net-worth have access to good quality financial advice, the middle-income groups in India experience an acute shortage of the same. There are various estimates to suggest that about 30 crore people in India have an ability to invest, a majority of which form the entire middle-income group of the pyramid. Given this huge need gap, we wanted to put in place a solution to reach sound financial advice to the market at large. The next question on our minds was to figure a solution to bridge this gap ? One thing that we realised very soon was that we needed to use technology to reach out to a larger audience.
However, using technology is one thing – but to marry that with quality advice is a totally different ball game. We then studied the entire advisor-client interaction cycle, right from the time of first interaction to the evolution of the relationship over a long term, and broke it down into steps that we could automate. We realised that most of this engagement can be automated using algorithms. Then we started picking elements of this interaction cycle to build algorithms to automate the process – that’s how WealthApp was born. We formally launched the platform in October 2016 for public at large.
Can you please give a background about the team behind WealthApp ?
The founders consist of myself, Subba Rao Telidevara, Sanjay HB and Mitesh Shah. We have a cumulative experience of 50+ years across various forms of money management. This makes us aware that the long winding process, paper work and lack of proper guidance in investment methods puts off people as prospective investors. The team is hard at work to ensure that our platform at WealthApp overcomes all of these barriers and adds value across the personal financial life of our customers.
As per a report, there is very small percentage of investors/would be investors who plan to invest in the Equity market [or MF], how does WealthApp plan to change this ‘resistant’ behaviour from investors ?
India’s AUM to GDP ratio stands at about 9 percent. In comparison, US markets boast of an AUM to GDP ratio of 70 percent. Even if we consider the global averages, 37% is the AUM to GDP ratio. While this clearly indicates the huge potential that our country has to channelize a significantly higher proportion of an individual’s savings into efficient financial products, India has been catching up very quickly.
This is due to a variety of reasons such as increase in financial awareness of the customers, efficient evolution of the regulatory framework and technology percolation across the country. WealthApp plans to use these broader trends to reach out to people and help them join the investment bandwagon. To keep the entry barriers low for our customers, we offer investment plans with as low as Rs. 100 investment minimums. We will also add more investment products in the future that we believe our customers will be able to benefit from.
Can you please talk about the funding of WealthApp ?
WealthApp raised about USD 440,000 in seed funding in December 2016. The startup’s investors include some very marque names such as NuVentures managing partner Venk Krishnan, Daksh eServices co-founder MJ Aravind, Vikram Kotak, Managing Partner at Crest Capital and Investment, Jayant Davar, Co-chairman & MD at Sandhar Group, Ramkumar Nishtala, MD & CEO at Vistaar Finance, and Arjun Sharma, chairman of the Select Group.
Can you share some insights into the customer demographics of WealthApp ?
An extremely large part of the unexposed population resides in the tier II and III towns where people have no access to professional financial advisory. WealthApp came up with the concept of Online Robo Financial Advisor for all kinds of investors ranging from youngsters or first time investors to a family man and seasoned investor. Moreover, WealthApp’s internal survey of a few remote towns in Karnataka revealed that about 80 percent of the population there spend at least 20 percent of their income on smartphones and data usage. Rest is reserved for household expenses and cash savings.
People there are actually very tech savvy, largely on mobile phones. And contrary to our belief they have a decent appetite for investment. But most invest in chit funds and other inefficient instruments since they have no one to guide them.
Once user has created an account on WealthApp [and all his investments from various AMCs are under one window], what other services does your team provide to the investors so that they can get more returns from their investments ?
WealthApp analyses an individual’s risk appetite, need to take risk and tolerance for risk based on factors such as income, assets, savings and financial goals that one may have. After an investment is made, the app tracks and monitors the complete cycle, alerting and suggesting investors on due payment, or any change in rules. The app also updates users over the need for liquid cash and provides options to obtain it. The platform is being enhanced further to accommodate more such situations that a customer may face over an investment lifecycle.
Can you give a small glimpse about the tech behind WealthApp ?
WealthApp has developed sophisticated iOS and android mobile apps to help the middle-income groups and retail investors in India simplify their financial planning and wealth management process. Sophisticated algorithms automate the entire advisory process thus ensuring top notch and timely advise for the investor. That the smaller cities and towns face data connectivity issues doesn’t deter WealthApp.
The app is built to use data efficiently. It is a light app that works on 2G bandwidth also. Currently, WealthApp’s user interface is English. There are plans to go vernacular, primarily to target the smaller towns and cities in future.
Are there any competitors of WealthApp, if so what are some of the USP’s of WealthApp vis-a-vis the competitors ?
The segment is growing as more people start lookingfor financial investment products to broaden their portfolio beyond traditional products such as gold and real estate. Some of the USP’s of WealthApp vis-a-vis the competitors are below:
Prospective Clients made investment ready via KYC in a thoroughly paperless manner with a very simple and streamlined on-boarding process
Sophisticated algorithms automate the entire advisory process thus ensuring top notch and timely advice for the investor
Knowledge and experience of the founding team work to provide customized portfolio most suited for investors and their goals based on thorough research and strategy
Ongoing monitoring 24/7/365
Supported with convenience of doorstep service offered via web and mobile apps
Equipped with a team of seasoned professionals for those that require the age old personal human touch
WealthApp is currently limited to MF’s, are there any plans/timeline on whether it would be expanded to cover other financial instruments ?
WealthApp Financial Advisors is an automated investment service, conceived over a year back. It makes use of its user friendly online platform to offer best in class investment portfolio to its clients. This is based on their financial goals and ability to take risk, and mutual funds offer various advantages to build customized investment portfolios. Having said that, the company plans to add more investment options in the near future.
What are some of the methodologies that your team plans in order to keep the investors hooked on to the platform [primary reason being investments are mostly planned by investors and most cases, they would not invest more unless required, unlike shopping which is more adhoc and also more repetitive and hence more stickiness.] ?
It’s our endeavour to engage our customers meaningfully while adding value to them. A slick and customized dashboard makes it convenient for them to see their investment status on the go and they keep coming back to it often to review their portfolios. They like the fact that we don’t use jargon and provide them all the information that they need in an easy to understand manner.
We also write articles and blogs frequently on topics that are of high relevance to our customers. Again, simplicity of conveying the messafge is the key so they keep coming back to read up and make themselves more knowledgeable on areas of personal finance. Our customers also appreciate the value in our periodic automated reports that reach their mailboxes.
There are various investor initiatives like #MFDayon7th by Reliance MF and CNBC TV18, does WealthApp have plans of starting an investor education initiative [or something else] in order to widen the horizon of passive investors [that could be an integral part of the investors eco-system, but dont know where to get started] ?
WealthApp has been at the forefront of customer education right from the start. We have conducted more than 50 roadshows [in metro cities and beyond] till date to spread awareness and provide simple solutions to people’s money problems.
Our platform is coded with complex algorithms by our engineering team and they have kept it up to date with the ongoing developments in the policies and reforms in our economy. The idea is to reduce the human intervention while we interact with our customers and be fully transparent.
With growing investor and entrepreneur interest in Fintech, many wallet companies like Paytm, FreeCharge, MobiKwik, etc. are plannig to have a boutique of finance products on their platform, does this growing competition have an impact on a startup like WealthApp and how it could result in expansion of the fintech ecosystem ?
Since the evolution of technology and start-up boom, Indian economy has been a huge market place for various types of businesses. Every entrant in the start-up space has been looking at diversifications based on their growth and funding options available around them. Also with the growing economy and huge population, fintech ecosystem has so much potential yet to be unlocked.
At WealthApp, the team comes with a tremendous domain knowledge and experience in the financial sector. We are glued on to the ongoing actions and want to be the best in the market with providing right products and offerings with a remarkable customer service. The market looks extremely responsive for WealthApp at the moment and we would like to be focused on our current service offerings instead of diversifying into many portfolios at this point of time. Currently, WealthApp deals only with mutual fund portfolios because MFs are very well regulated, are very difficult to understand, and the seed money requirement is very less.
You mentioned earlier that there is a growing demand of products like WealthApp in tier-2, tier-3 cities [and beyond], what are some of the marketing initiatives that your team has taken in order to penetrate into that particular market ?
The tier 2 towns and beyond is where the potential lies untapped. The revolution in technology and touch of power has reduced the distance between both the worlds. It has digitally enabled the end customer to gain access to the knowledge and information today. This has opened up new dimensions for them to look into new avenues of investment options.
It has created inroads for WealthApp to proceed further and we are equipped with sound knowledge on the subject. We have created a team of experts who reach out to the end customers in these markets, helping them in communicating the knowledge on investments, building portfolios and managing them. We have been working with the target audience in various parts of the country.
Along with the integrated AMC approach, building investor porfolio as per his requirements, etc. your team also provides advisory services to your customers. Are these services charged and how has been the customer response to these services [since none of the finance platform provides such tailor-made services] ?
At WealthApp, the platform is equipped to build a persona of the customer on its platform and provide advisory recommendations for investments. The automated investment service has been kept free of cost while some specific value added serives are being developed that may be on a chargeable basis. Market response to our platform has been terrific so far and we are extremely encouraged to serve our customers in the best possible manner.
What is the revenue model of WealthApp and does it follow the Freemium model ?
WealthApp does not charge its customers for the automated investment service platform. It charges the fund houses a small fee. There are a number of tools and products in various stages of development and testing that may be used by the customer for a fee.
Are there are any RBI guidelines regulating the app based businesses [P2P, Line Of Credit, etc] in India or to put it the other way round, is there a requirement to regulate them ?
The app is a channel to reach out to people conveniently. The entire advisory on our platform are fully regulated by SEBI while the payments are governed with the rules laid out by the RBI.
2016 was a tough year for startups [especially from funding point of view], how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations ?
Having recognized a real need gap in the market and put in place a solution that adds real value to the customer, what remains critical for an entrepreneur to tide over such times is an ability to evolve as they learn alongside persevering.
After demonetization, there has been a huge demand for payment apps [including UPI], wallet providers providing investment options like Digital Gold, etc. do you see that trend working in favour of apps like WealthApp [that makes an investor’s life smoother] ?
Absolutely. As more and more people become aware of digital platforms and become comfortable using them, it helps us explain the delivery mechanism of our service to our customers in a more contextual fashion.
As per your entrepreneurial experience, when should an entrepreneur look out for external funding ?
A couple of common circumstances when one should seek external funding could include situations when you either need funds to build/improvise your product/service or when your own revenues are not sufficient to sustain growth.
Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs
Some of my recent reads that I recommend for entrepreneurs are Shoe dog by Phil Knight, Predictably irrational by Dan Ariely and The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly.
Some closing thoughts for our readers!
Effective financial management is key to meeting various life goals. This could include various aspects of our lives such as savings, expenses, investments, budgeting et al. To do any or all of this, one should seek the help of qualified financial experts to guide them through the process.
Choosing the right financial advisor is key and you must ask all questions that you need answered to make a well-informed decision. Keep in mind that the amount of wealth that we build is less a function of our income and more a function of our savings rate. And while they say money can’t buy happiness, I beg you to reconsider.
We thank Gaurav Dhawan for sharing his insights with our readers. If you are planning to put your money to work via smart investments, then you should download WealthApp. If you have any questions for Gaurav or the WealthApp Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.
India is a very diversified country with different cultures and traditions. Every city in India has something unique experience to offer, including the food that each city is known for! However, today’s modern lifestyles and hectic work-life schedules; makes traditional necessities difficult to find. For example, being in Bengaluru it is very difficult to find Misal Pav, the popular Maharashtrian dish. Modern life and its fast pace has taken a toll on our social life that has estranged various communities, scattering them to various distant lands in the search of a better livelihood. But it has left the hearts with a sense of nostalgia, around their socio cultural habits and preferences, longing to belong again to their roots and culture.
This is where Promita Sengupta, an ex-banker & social entrepreneur siezed an opportunity and that is how Cre8comm was born. Cre8comm is India’s first community driven hyperlocal e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India.
It is a marketplace where one can find the most authentic and indigenous products from the varied and diverse communities of India. It provides every community with almost every product – apparel, food from their hometown irrespective of where you live.
Today we have a chat with Promita Sengupta, Founder & Director, Cre8comm. We discuss about Cre8comm, the hyper-local market, opportunities in e-commerce, team building & much more. So let’s get started with the Q&A….
Tell us about Cre8comm, how was the start-up conceptualized and what was the idea behind Cre8comm ?
Cre8comm is India’s first community driven e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials & products to all the diverse communities. The company aims to deliver authentic & special foods, especially those that you are craving for, and we go an extra step by bringing sumptuous traditional dishes and our chefs are locals of the same community.
Considering the popularity of Bengali products, I have noticed people used to travel all across the city and be stuck in traffic for hours to reach CR Park in Delhi, to get authentic Bengali food. This prompted me to start revolutionary service which will address to all communities of India with the plethora of indigenous products.
How does platform work ? How is that you reach your partners and they serve from their own kitchens ?
The entire platform is technology based and all orders are placed online. Cre8comm home delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India. We partner with the best local talent bridging avenues to build relationships in their culturally enriching journeys in delivering to India’s first community services based platform.
This is a service which allows all our partners to serve from their own kitchens. We strongly believe in bringing people together through our socially responsible segment to a socio-cultural platform.
Each of the partners is carefully chosen after having carefully looked at the hygiene and capability to server Cre8comm. We have a product replacement model in the case of customer complaints which keeps the vendors on their toes. We cater to customer needs, by delivering food items in fresh, raw or cooked categories, traditional apparel, items for a puja samagri for any occasion – be it a marriage or a simply Griha Pravesh, and sweets [Misti]. Our aim is to deliver fresh foods, preserve its freshness, making life convenient and hassle free.
How do you ensure/maintain the quality of the products being sold on Cre8comm [since it is eatables and in this category extra care needs to be taken] ?
Each of the partners is carefully chosen after having carefully looked at the hygiene and capability to serve Cre8comm. We have a product replacement model in the case of customer complaints which keeps the vendors on their toes.
Our hygiene team visits the kitchen [in the case of Cooked food] and shops for raw fresh food. Since we do not have too many vendors, we have been able to fix responsibilities on each to ensure an extra regulatory check.
The challenge is definitely there but we have ensured the quality by keeping lesser number of Vendors. Though it is not be competitive, but it helps keep the quality in check as the vendors do not want to lose lucrative sustainable business.
How did you zero-in on the name Cre8Comm and what were some of the other options that were being explored while naming your startup ?
Considering our vision we were very clear while naming our start-up, as the name itself says Cre8-comm i.e. creating communities.
How does Cre8comm delivering traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India ?
Cre8comm , based on the community they are catering to, works at the background to do a detailed research on the community, including food habits, culture, music, etc. and then identifies the right kind of vendor for the same.
Contrary to the normal belief of a market place wherein you connect with large number of vendors, we keep our number restricted in order to ensure that we have good response from a quality perspective. Once we are ready with our back ground work including finalising vendors, we go live through social media.
Can you share details about the competitors of Cre8comm ?
Currently, we don’t have any direct competition. There is no online e-commerce company which does the kind of products we manage. Some online portals are there, but they only handle Raw and Fresh food.
We continue to benchmark ourselves against our own potential and targets. We need to invest in our capabilities to ensure we keep pace with the changing demographic, technology and evolving needs of our customer base.
What are your expansion plans? Please share more about the new initiatives of Cre8comm ?
We are currently focusing on expanding other communities likeOriya, Malayali, and Bihari coming soon. Cre8comm is a diversified community portal, like no other marketplaces in the world. It’s fresh and easily accessible. In the long run, Cre8comm is planning to launch Culture Kitchen which would revolutionize the way meal services are being handled today in the country.
What are your marketing channels & how do you select the next logical place for expansion ?
The Key Marketing channels are:
Social Media [Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn]
Reaching out to Condos and Large Offices
Connecting with Restaurants
Connecting with Community based Association
What have been the learnings so far and what were some of the biggest challenges in scaling up Cre8comm ?
The key learnings are:
Do not compromise on quality, if needed keep cost higher for better quality.
Stay very close to the customers. Understand the small needs.
Believe your customers. They actually know what they want.
The key challenges are:
Logistics. No one does the distance that we cover. So a separate logisitics team was required
The right kind of packaging
Maintaining the quality of the food
Training the Delivery team
Keeping system dynamic as per the demands of the situation
Being sensitive to people requests
Please share the funding status of Cre8comm & are you looking out for institutional funding ?
We are currently boot strapped and yes looking for Institutional Funding who share our vision.
E-commerce & food-tech as a sector is seeing consolidation [especially vertical e-commerce] and things in horizontal e-commerce are no different, how according to you are things in e-commerce different as compared to what was couple of years back [when e-commerce companies were getting funded based on GMV] ?
e-commerce cannot survive without technology . However the concept of GMV is now gone. It is more on Unit Margins and EBITDA. The investor is keen to see your margins and bottomline. This will continue for years to come when Investors will likely be more interested where companies can improve shareholder value.
What are some of the parameters your team looks into while selecting vendors for a particular community [Oriya, Bengali, etc.] before onboarding them ?
The Key parameters for checking the vendors are:
Time in Business and customer review
If cooked food, we check the Kitchen and see how hygienic they are
Able to manage credits in the short term
Able to cope with the growth of Cre8comm
Sustain good quality
Before Cre8comm, you had a social venture [building portable toilets], can you share some of the learnings from that venture since it might be helpful for aspiring social entrepreneurs ?
People may talk a lot, but finally not too many wants to put the money in these ventures.
Being non-glamourous, the effort is lot more to reach to people.
There is a lot of personal satisfaction when small successes show up.
Never take people on face value, even if they are very highly placed.Work closely with them and show how your ventures solves a key problem of the society
Be ready to face failures as they really are the pillars of success.
You were earlier a banker, social entrepreneur and now e-commerce/food-tech entrepreneur, how do you manage to don so many hats and where do you draw courage from ?
I always wanted my epitaph to read as someone who has tried and not given up on anything. Besides, the zeal to make a difference in the lives of people in whatever capacity has always been a driving force. I always believe that There’s miles to go before I sleep
A quick piece of advice for all the women entrepreneurs
Starting an entrepreneurial venture is exciting but is not a bed of roses. It is full of challenges. And, being a female entrepreneur it is imperative to develop/nurture the following attributes – Communication, Networking, Ability to delegate, Sales skills and Openness to learn.
Follow your heart. It will always take you in the right direction and never be afraid to take risks in life.
Closing comments for community start-ups ? Please share more about how community driven start-ups are gaining popularity across the country ?
Not many organised community based start-ups are there in the country today. Definitely a void that Cre8comm is trying to fill in. We have just scratched the surface for now. The potential and need is extremely high given the fact that people are moving more & more away from their culture/food, etc. and so is the expertise and knowledge around it.
Our experience shows that if community based products and services are made available in abundance, then the impact can be significant. A study has reported that even Amazon has not been able to break the close relationship that people have with the existing unorganised community based services. This could be true for most countries in the world and hence it is an enormous opportunity.
We thank Promita Sengupta for her time and sharing valuable insights with our readers! If you have any questions for her about Cre8Comm, Food Tech, Hyer-local, scaling up, etc., please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your question in the comments section.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
How many times have you been in a situation where you run out of cash and need some loan on an urgent basis. Personal loans, Education loans, Housing loans or any such loans [where the amount is huge] are mostly planned but there are cases where you might need an ‘unplanned’ loan. The loan amount in such scenarios might be such that banking institutions might not be able to offer that much loan. This is where ‘Alternate Lending’ can be of huge help where you can either take a loan from P2P platform in which case there is no intermediary financial institution [Both Borrowers & Lenders are individuals].
The other case is where you opt for a loan via a NBFC which acts as an ‘Enabler’ and bridges tha gap between the Borrower & the Bank. 2017 has so far been a very eventful year for Fintech Startups and Alternate Lending is being touted as one of the hottest sectors in 2017. There are couple of fintech startups addressing this problem where their major target customers are ‘Salaried Professionals’.
One such startup is Creditexchange that provides salaried personal loans of between 50,000 and 5,00,000 INR through Qbera Loans. Qbera provides borrowers a seamless, convenient experience with an unparalleled turn-around time of 12-30 hours [to loan disbursal]. Creditexchange is being developed in partnership with LendFoundry, a market-leader in the development of technology stacks for alternative lending companies in the US.
Today we have a chat with Aditya Kumar, Founder & CEO of Qbera, an alternate lending startup. We discuss about Qbera, the P2P lending market, opportunities in Fintech, impact of Digital India & much more. So let’s get started with the Q&A….
How has the online lending industry changed, or you foresee any changes after UPI was introduced ?
It’s been a year since Unified Payments Interface [UPI] was launched and has had a positive impact on the payments & collections space, in general. As a result of UPI, small ticket loans can be made, and repayments collected seamlessly, around the clock.
There is a general question with lenders, what happens if borrower is not able to return the money. How is the lingering question of Credit Risk taken care of ?
There can be multiple repercussions of a borrower not being able to repay their loans. The defaulter will be reported to CIBIL [and the other credit bureaus] which will have a negative effect on a person’s credit score and significantly impact their ability to borrow in the future. In scenarios of repeated/willful defaulter, banks could also initiate legal action against the borrower.
Credit risk is mitigated by lenders in a multitude of ways. First, a person’s credit history is always checked to see if they have any history of default, or whether they have availed of credit responsibly in the past. Second, most financial institutions and online lenders alike ask for bank statements of prospective borrower to analyse income and expense patterns. Online and other alternative lenders also look at social data, mobile data, georisk, and other more ‘non-traditional’ sources of data to make a more comprehensive credit decision.
According to your data, which is the biggest category [buying house, repairs, wedding etc.] & customer segmentation [i.e. Age, City etc.] where borrowers require money ?
Salaried individuals typically borrow money primarily for : Personal exingencies, Refinancing credit card [or other] debt, or home improvement. Borrowers in the salaried segment typically reside in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities in India, and many are aged between 25 & 40.
There are growing number of Fintech startups into online lending, P2P lending, credit lines, etc. [eg. Capital Float, Lendingkart, Rubique, Faircent, MoneyTap, etc.]. What are some of the USP’s of Qbera via-a-vis other Fintech startups or what are some of the differentiating factors of Qbera ?
Qbera focuses on offering personal loans to salaried individuals working at over 700,000 employers. In addition to this, Qbera offers loans to individuals with incomes starting at 20,000 per month [net] and those who have never availed of any loan produt before.
Qbera also strives to approve loan applications which are filled through its portal, Qbera.com, in 15 minutes~4 working hours, and disburse loans within 24 hours thereof.
What is the TAM of the consumer debt market that Qbera is trying to address ?
Qbera is addressing a market of salaried individuals in the top 13 markets in India – with incomes of between 20,000 and 75,000 per month. The size of this market is likely more than 10 million individuals, with the current personal loan balances in these markets at 200,000 crores.
Apart from CIBIL score, Social score; are there other data points that Qbera has to evaluate members [borrowers] on Qbera ?
Other credit parameters, bank statements, demographic information, information about a borrower’s employer – 33 of these parameters go into making a credit decision on an application.
Few years back, there was a huge wave about MFI’s [like SKS Microfinance], in 2017 the wave is around Fintech sector [NBFC’s], what are your thoughts about the Fintech space in the coming years ?
The fintech space in India is still at a very nascent stage, compared to what it is elsewhere in the world [e.g. the US, UK and China]. Billions of dollars of disbursements have happened across unsecured and secured products in these markets through fintech companies, and, as such, Indian players have a long way to go.
What’s unique about the Indian ecosystem is how open Banks & NBFCs are to working with Fintech companies, which should help them evolve at a great pace. In the next few years, Fintech players in India will see tremendous growth, some degree of consolidation, as they play a larger role – especially in providing the underbanked and new-to-credit populations with access to credit.
Does Qbera only offer loans to salaried professionals [as mentioned it is minimum 20K/month] or is it open to entrepreneurs, freelancers [If not, any reason for the same and any tentative timeline when it might be open to non-salaried professionals]
Qbera has laid out its plan of action in a way that it is currently focused on the salaried segment and would use the learnings from the same to expand to self-employed professions, leading to self-employed non-professionals and businesses in future. Idea is to ensure operational efficiency in one segment and use this in the other.
Does Qbera have any e-commerce partners where customer on that platform can get short term loan from Qbera [for buying big ticket items, instead of opting for EMI or other payment mechanism] ?
No, we don’t.
Can you share some tips for building an effective team for startups [especially the initial core team] ?
Strike a balance between domain expertise, experience, passion and intellect and street smartness.
Take your time in putting the founding team together – they will become the bedrock of your organisation.
Work with people you get along with – you will be spending significant amounts of time with them.
Bootstrapping vis-a-vis Institutional Funding, your views on the same ?
Both comes with their own set of benefits and perils. An entrepreneurial thought is often followed by a decision/desire to ‘bootstrap’ it before giving nod to institutional funding. It is natural to be possessive of one’s product/project and want to nurture their business idea on their own without taking investment from venture capitalists. Bootstrapping can put you in a straitjacket as far as fund for marketing and PR is concerned. External investments give you flexibility – but come with their own set of expectations.
Apart from Fintech, what are the next wave of startups that would excite entrepreneurs’ interest, VC interest ?
I think it would be Artificial Intelligence [AI]. In fact, it has already evolved into a group of inevitable technologies that entail machine learning and natural language processing.
There has been growing discussion about linking Aadhar to PAN number, in which case just providing Aadhar details help Fintech startups to verify customer’s financial credibility, can you share your thoughts on this move and whether it would be a boon for finance related startups [be it services, Fintech, etc.]
I think this is a much-needed positive move by the government as it helps them to monitor all taxable transactions and also prevents people or companies from owning multiple PAN cards. Citizens would be more educated about the benefits of paying taxes. It also saves tax payers the hassle of submitting their IT papers to the concerned departments. As far as alternative lenders are concerned, the most challenging aspect of the business is to assess credit worthiness of applicants accurately and make a fair decision. This will certainly make things easier for us.
Many startups/growth stage companies are now looking at unit-economics, how important is it to look at that factor early on in the startup’s journey ?
Unit economics have a huge role to play in the eventual success of any business, and one which investors are becoming increasingly paranoid about [and rightly so!]. If your business doesn’t have a clear roadmap to positive unit-level economics, you will never make money.
Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs
If you’re involved in the fintech space – I strongly believe you are in the right place, at the right time. Be patient and enjoy the ride!
We thank Aditya Kumar for his time and sharing valuable insights with our readers! If you have any questions for Aditya about Qbera, Alternate lending, Fintech, scaling up, etc., please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your question in the comments section.
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.
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
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.
Few months back, we had written a review of Kushal Tradelink and analyzed the performance since I have myself invested in Kushal Tradelink based on suggestions given by a friend who is very active in the stock market. There were lot comments to the Kushal Tradelink stock review article where many readers also invested in it whereas some had confusion about whether to invest or not.
Earlier this month I had a chance encounter with a heavy-duty investor at the Mumbai Airport and over-heard him giving some insights about Kushal Tradelink over the phone. As you might have guessed, I decided to convert this chance encounter into a learning opportunity. I started discussing with him about Kushal Tradelink, it’s performance, etc. since it is always important to learn from seasoned investors! I am in touch with that investor [not disclosed due to confidentiality reasons] during the time when the lower circuit for Kushal Tradelink had not yet opened and decided to have a Q&A session with him once we shared very good rapport and when lower circuit had opened up Kushal Tradelink.
Below are the edited excerpts from the interview [Note : Due to confidentiality reasons, we are unable to reveal the name of the retail investor and the interview it for the benefit of retail investors who are interested to invest in stock market].
Are you an investor in Kushal Tradelink and can you comment on it’s performance ?
Yes, I am holding more than 100k shares of that company. What should I say about it’s stock performance! Entire Indian stock market has witnessed its strength and performance. I would say it is one of its kind of stock. Kushal Tradelink is an investment that has given 10x returns in 13 months and this is what makes it an excellent stock.
Any particular reason why you did not sell the shares of Kushal Tradelink when it was at its peak at Rs. 600 ?
Well, there are many reasons behind that, first I have invested in Kushal Tradelink from a long term perspective and believe that it will be around Rs. 1200 valuation after couple of years from now, another reason is since there are very few investment options available if I would have sold the shares. One option could be buying a property or investing in some other company. If I invest in another company’s shares there is no guarantee that it would give huge returns like Kushal Tradelink does and same debate holds good for buying a property. I strongly believe that Kushal Tradelink is a long term investment and investors should hold on to it.
There are some speculations in the media that Asia’s best performing stocks have started to nose-dive and investors are not able to sell the stock, your comments on the same and future market trends ?
Look, there is no doubt about that it was Asia’s best performing stock, all the investors that invested in it even for a couple of days were able to sell it with profit. Fall in price depends on supply and demand of the stock and just because authorities don’t want investors to make money they shifted it in Trade-to-Trade (T2T) segment and hence the demand decreased. I am considering Kushal as gold jewellery purchased for my wife neither I would go for selling it if price rises nor I would panic if the price goes down.
It is observed that any stock that has started to fall with lower circuit has never opened it’s lower circuit before it reaches to penny stock, do you think it will be a penny stock or you are still optimistic ?
It is not always not necessary that history repeats, We have observed its strength on the occasion of Brexit and when Demonetization was announced. On 2nd Jan 2017, the media criticized the stock heavily and many investors sold the shares. Hence in normal circumstances more positive buyers are there than the negative ones.
If we talk about lower circuits than I would like to emphasise on government body’s intervention that has created this chaos. SEBI and BSE has jointly taken the decision to shift it to the T2T segment for the welfare of the retail investors. This step has turned out to be a nightmare for the retail investors that have already invested in the company. Just because of T2T, big seasoned investors lost their interest and that’s why retail investors panicked and lower circuit started.
If you look at Atlas cycles same thing happened with that company as well, so it is nothing like it was the fault of Kushal Tradelink or there is anything wrong with their financials, or company suddenly started making losses, this phenomenon is due to varying supply and demand of the stock.
I have met many people and they were claiming that Kushal Tradelink’s stock price rose substantially because of manipulation but in reality it rose higher than their expectations and expert’s knowledge and therefore it was easy for them to say so. However, if you look from my point of view it is clearly visible that price rise was just due to demand and supply. According to my study based on shareholding pattern of December, I concluded that the price rose during the time frame October~December 2016 and it can be attributed to the formula of Supply v/s Demand.
How you can say that numbers were not manipulated and it was pure role of supply and demand ?
If you ask any person that is not involved in the stock market, he would claim that whole stock market is like satta bazar or it is manipulative. In last September there were more than 19000 shareholders and in December there were 31000 shareholders. More than 11200 retail investors have shown their faith in the December quarter. A single quarter has 60 trading sessions which means that every day on an average every two minutes, one ‘new’ shareholder has purchased shares of Kushal Tradelink. We have not included intra-day and short-term traders for this calculation and total 30938 shareholders have shown their faith and made money in the December quarter alone. This huge number itself spells for the trust that retail investors have in Kushal Tradelink.
If we talk about FIIs than 4 new FIIs and 16 new foreign portfolio investors are currently holding stocks of Kushal Tradelink. In addition to that more than 300 new clearing members are holding it and 130 corporates have also purchased it. Because of the heavy demand, stock price of Kushal Tradelink sky rocketed in December and critics think it is manipulative.
Market capitalization is decided based on number of shares multiplied by price and the price rose because of demand and supply, and not because of PE, EPS and book value or peers comparison. People who criticize Kushal Tradelink must understand the demand and supply mechanism first since that is driving the growth for Kushal Tradelink. I am a shareholder in Kushal Tradelink and it has given me millions of moments to rejoice and same holds good for all the other investors of Kushal Tradelink. On the contrary I have not heard any expert opinions on Kingfisher, Unitech, and Satyam scams but their expert opinion are voiced out for the company that has consistently created fortune for thousands of people.
What is your next step, are you placing sell orders like others or you will buy shares of Kushal Tradelink in the lower circuit ?
According to me selling shares of Kushal Tradelink in the near future is a very bad option, let me tell you why – Company is going to do amalgamation of four companies, in addition to that, I have also heard from reliable sources that they are in process of buying few stressed business assets and they are diversifying and entering into the I.T, entertainment and Textile industries as well. Above all, Kushal Tradelink is debt free company and it’s financials are growing YoY and that will again reflect on it’s stock price. Therefore performance of Kushal Tradelink would remain intact and it would grow much faster because substantial number of people who have doubts on it’s performance are becoming positive buyers now and that will help in increasing it’s new and strong base of shareholders. My suggestion as a seasoned investor is to hold on to shares of Kushal Tradelink and buy it in case you haven’t.
Financial experts say that it will be penny stock because all shareholders will sell it when they will get opportunity, there is no chance of opening lower circuit. On what base you are giving the call to buy stocks of Kushal Tradelink ?
Popularity always makes a difference and I can predict that huge buying is about to start in the next coming days. Kushal is very popular all over India because of its price, performance and thousands of retail investor’s profitability. If you have not seen America that doesn’t mean America does not exist, same thing happened with the experts and I don’t think expert’s opinion matter. Apart from that let me give you an example how lower circuit will open, why people will not sell their holdings and my prediction of the future.
Assume that one share holder of Kushal Tradelink tells 5 people about the company or it’s amazing run at the stock market. Out of those 5 people may buy it because they trust the person who is giving that suggestion. Out of those five people, two of them invest in Kushal Tradelink as per the financial plan chartered by them.
Now let’s look at the bigger picture. At the end of September quarter, Kushal Tradelink was having more than 19000 shareholders. Out of that let’s say 9000 people recommended it to 5 people out 45000 people, out of that let’s say 18000 people actually purchased. However remaining 27000 are tentative to invest and when they get its reference from other reliable source they may jump in to buy stock at any time. Because of ~18000 new investors (short and long term) in Kushal Tradelink in December quarter, stock price of Kushal Tradelink sky rocketed.
In a nutshell, all people in the market that have either earned short term profit from Kushal Tradelink or have heard about it’s earlier rally or are referred by someone will come to buy it at 50% corrected price from it’s high price and people that plan to sell will anyways do it. This is how popularity of Kushal Tradelink is going to increase day by day and more number of retail investors will invest in the company’s stock.
Now let’s talk about predicted future:
According to our market research, we have found out that all those people that have booked full or partial profit are interested to buy Kushal Tradelink, apart from those people that have missed earlier rally or those who criticized Kushal Tradelink earlier are also interested in buying its shares. It is visible that many investors are buying it daily. Based on a research, the conclusion is that more than 1 crore shares are expected to be bought by old and new individual shareholders and the number does not include FIIs. We are also expecting more than 2 crore shares would be bought by HNIs and on the other side only 75 lakh shares are expected to be sold. Therefore we believe that demand remains higher than supply hence high rise in price is expected until demand and supply becomes equal.
Another thing is that demand in Kushal Tradelink was very high and it will remain higher in future because it has tripled investors’ money in a short span of time and based on it’s capacity, similar performance is expected in the future.
I am not talking anything about fundamentals as they are available for you on the BSE websiteand you do your own research. However company is on it’s way to buy more businesses and starting new ventures that you will get notification from BSE website, I am not suggesting popular mobile app for stock market because it does not have all the updated figures available. Hence I prefer BSE website for authentic data, besides this I am going to buy at lower price because of my research, simple logic and common sense. I am sure that price will get necessary support from the big boys forever just like earlier events 🙂
There are lot of negative talks about Kushal Tradelink, so what is the reason you are so optimistic about the company & its performance ?
You know our Indian culture, we rarely appreciate others for their success because we think we are the smarter than others and that’s the problem. People that don’t hold stock are in race to prove their self as experts by recalling their previous advice. I would like to thank all those people that have given space to Kushal Tradelink in their mind for free.
However let me tell you one thing that I am not going to make money by listening to their expert opinion, I am going to make money by taking my own call because it’s my own money so I cannot let others take decision for my money. If I will hold the stock, it is better to ignore those freebies since they are nothing but enemy of your profit. Can you tell me which is next Wipro, Infosys or TCS after 15 to 20 years?, no right. I am looking at Kushal Tradelink after a decade like one of these companies. So my suggestion is to buy it around Rs. 150 in quantity and when it price rises, get your invested amount back by selling few stocks and remain invested with your profitable shares, I am sure you will thank me after few years. In fact, you are invest in a lesser risky option like Fixed Deposits (FD) and let the profit from Kushal Tradelink be invested in buying it’s shares!
To sum off this lengthy discussion,
According to me Kushal Tradelink is people’s company and since more & more hands are joining forces together, its strength is growing. You can be a part of people’s company and create fortune or become a lone spectator, choice is in your hands…
Create history or Witness History
Disclaimer : Information provided in the article is based on my research, retail investor’s knowledge. I have personally invested in Kushal Tradelink stock. Investment in stocks involves huge risk, so consult your financial adviser or do your own analysis before making any investment.