Satish Balakrishnan, Jumadi.in : E-commerce platform for books, entertainments and gadgets

Team YS
9th Feb 2011
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“We have solid experience in backend supply chain management. For an e-commerce platform, that is vital.” – Satish Balakrishnan, Co-founder, Jumadi.in

Last week, we at YourStory had done an ‘e-commerce digest’ (check out http://yourstory.in/news/5281-the-e-commerce-digest-from-diapers-to-dart-boards) featuring portals serving niche interests. A day after we did that story, we had the opportunity to meet Satish Balakrishnan, co-founder of Jumadi, an e-commerce startup, setup by two ex-Amazon employees. In this exclusive chat with YourStory, Satish speaks about his entrepreneurial journey with Jumadi.


If someone asked you to tell them about Jumadi in about 50 words, what would you say?

Jumadi.in is a cool new place to buy books, music CDs/DVDs and lifestyle gadgets with excellent service and great discounts. And we offer free shipping that delivers on-the-dot.

How is Jumadi different from other e-commerce platforms?

Currently, prices along with service would be the differentiator. However, we don't claim to be the lowest priced store around. We’ll be on Facebook soon. In fact, we’re going to be the first e-commerce platform which will allow you to search, select and buy products without having to leave the Facebook page at any given point of time during the transaction. That would differentiate us considerably.

How did the business idea for Jumadi come about?

Both Pradeep (the other co-founder) and I have worked on the backend supply chain processes of Amazon.com. In fact, it’s their quest for perfection that has inspired us to provide a similar kind of a service in India. We experimented and learnt the business by selling on third-party sites. The response was great and we think it’s primarily because of the service that we offered. We knew the market had a huge potential and started Jumadi.

Jumadi is an interesting name. What does it mean? How did you zero in on it?

To be honest, Jumadi does not mean anything. From a branding perspective, we were looking for a catchy name that would ‘stick’. Someone suggested ‘Jumadi’ on a lark and we decided to adopt it.

Give us a bit of gyaan about your background.

I did my B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Durgapur. I have worked for a couple of start-ups early on, before being associated with Amazon.com's backend operations for a little over 4 years. It was here that I met Pradeep, my co-founder. We were in the same team. Pradeep has an MBA from ICFAI. We were like-minded individuals wanting do to something on our own and hence, we joined hands to start Jumadi. 

Let us know about the tie-ups that you have. Is there acceptance for your concept? Can you give us some incidents to illustrate the same?

The best thing about Jumadi is that we had set up our supply chain by the time we launched the website. We have tie-ups with over 850+ publishers/studios/distributors in India and we’ve also have tied up with a few international distributors as well, to ensure seamless supply of the products that we sell. In addition, we’ve also tied up with BlueDart & FedEx for logistical support. We’ve had our own share of hardships in setting up the supply chain, as many of the distributors were reluctant in granting us an account. There was even a case where a distributor referred to us online retailers as scammers. Somehow, we managed to get into their groove and managed to convince them. It took us around 9 months. But it was worth it.

Where do you see e-commerce platforms and Jumadi five years from now?

We strongly believe that e-commerce is going be the next big wave, similar to the telecom boom a few years ago. Less than 1% of our population has transacted over the internet even once. So, there is a huge potential and this is only aided by the exponential growth of internet and credit card penetration. We see Jumadi as a major e-commerce player in India in the next 5 years, selling products across every possible category. 

What is Jumadi's revenue model?

Like any other retail business, we make money with the margins that we get from the suppliers. Though we pass on a chunk of the discounts to the customers, we do manage to save some for ourselves. 

As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?

We enjoy what we do and we enjoy every minute of it because of the sheer passion towards the business. The truth is, running around like crazy to fulfill orders on time gives us more satisfaction than sitting in a corporate cubicle. Setting up the supply chain and getting the catalog up and running was the biggest challenge. We are updating our catalog to cover about 5 million titles in books. This requires a lot of manual intervention in validating the data, prices etc. which we intend to do gradually over the next 3 months. 

How big is the Jumadi team? Give us some info on team composition, in terms of number of people and their roles. Also, are you looking at hiring?

We are a five-member team now. One is a programmer and we have two guys to look into operations. Pradeep and I don’t restrict ourselves to a single domain. We are involved in everything. And yes, we are looking to hire a programmer and probably two more people to take care of operations.

So, how’s Jumadi doing as a company? What’s next?

We have acquired close to 2300 registered customers in the past 4 months and we are adding more customers every day. Our revenues too have been growing steadily. We had crossed the Rs. 5 lakhs mark last month (Jan '11). Books are the most sold products and we've had a decent number of orders for gadgets as well. We had put up a stall in the recently-concluded Chennai Book Fair and it was a great success. We managed to establish our presence among the book buyers in Chennai. Our goal is to reach the Rs. 10 lakhs per month revenue mark before August 2011 and more importantly, sustain that growth.

We at YourStory wish this young startup all the best. We’ll be watching Jumadi closely. So, do come back for updates. To know more or to buy from them, check out http://www.jumadi.in/. We’d love to hear from you about your thoughts on this story. You can write to us atfeedback@yourstory.in.

Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 9th February 2010 | Bangalore

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