The clouds had gathered overhead in Bangalore and I was hoping not to be zapped by rain before I reach the ZopNow office. But perhaps the rain gods too didn’t want to dampen the story and the sun was shining by the time the happy-go-lucky face of Bal Krishna Birla guided me to his office. You know you’re meeting a startup soul when you see someone clad in a comfortable tee shirt and shorts enthusiastically greeting you, ushering into the office. Tucked away in a business center in one of the lesser dense areas of Bangalore, Zopnow has found a place for itself in HSR Layout.
Founded by two ex-Amazon employees, Bal Krishna and Mukesh Singh, Zopnow is an upcoming eCommerce site delivering items of ‘daily needs’. Currently focused on South Bangalore (and some areas in central and east Bangalore), Zopnow swears by a 3 hour delivery policy. The Hyper market delivers everything from eggs to soaps to batteries; the choice is befuddling.
Starting Up and the Ramu Problem
Bal Krishna was previously the founder at AskLaila and has had an experience of running a handful of restaurants. Mukesh Singh, the co-founder has also been in the startup world and was the CTO of MakeMyTrip in his previous avatar. They were both at a point in life when thoughts were whirling around in their minds. They knew each other back from Amazon days, and one fine day tried to explore opportunities. eCommerce was huge and both believed in it but just so that they don’t interfere with the others thought process, they decided to chart out differently what they had in mind and then compare. On comparing the two papers, the ideals matched, it was more like a match made in heaven and thus was born Zopnow.
And the Ramu problem is what they endearingly call the problem they’re trying to solve. ‘Ramu’ is any boy who delivers items to your home from the local mom and pop store. Ramu can be quick. He can deliver within 10 minutes. Many people asked that will you be able to beat this kiranawala? “Probably not,” says Bal Krishna, “but one thing is for sure. Ramu, sometimes can be a day late,” he continues. And this is the problem Zopnow is trying to solve. They promise a delivery within 3 hours and considerable predictability. “When you order from us, you can be rest assured, the items will be delivered in the stipulated time.” says Bal.
Building the team and the “Two Pizza” Philosophy
Surprisingly, building the team hasn’t been a very big problem for Zopnow. “Coming from a technology background, getting good people to get the backend functioning wasn’t a big issue. Marketing and sales guys was a problem but there are people around if you look at the right places,” informs Bal. Coming from Amazon, both Bal and Mukesh, believe in the Two Pizza Philosphy which basically states that any team should be small enough that two pizzas can feed them. “I believe in that way of working. Smaller teams. More focused work. I don’t intend to make a mammoth 1000 member team.” says Bal.
Logistics, Numbers and Trends
Zopnow believes the backend to be the heart of an eCommerce business. “You cannot succeed with an eCommerce business in India unless you’re well backed with capital and have a strong back-end that you own.” Zopnow has its technology system built inhouse and keeps a track of everything that’s happening. The team (and even customers now) can track where the delivery boys are. They also have their own warehouse where the items are stocked from the supplier and a sophisticated system is in place to deliver the customer.
Being a business of ‘daily needs’, Zopnow has a great advantage of repeat customers. Delivery upto Rs 500 is charged with a Rs 30 delivery cost and anything above Rs 500 is delivered without shipment charges. Having been in business for a few months now, Zopnow has seen a trend that the first buy is usually around Rs 500 but once the customer is satisfied, the ticket size speedily goes upto RS 6000, with close to 75% individuals as repeat customers.
“Bangalore is one city where customers give you that very important first chance. People are ready to experiment online and once satisfied, they’ll obviously re-order. This ‘first chance’ is crucial and is something that drew me to start up with Bangalore. Also the fact that Bangalore has been my base for 17 years now was an added advantage ,” says a smiling Bal.
Having been sufficiently funded, Zopnow plans to keep to Bangalore for the next few months. Zopnow will be delivering all across Bangalore in 2-3 months, post which they’ll be thinking about going to different cities. “We’re very sure of what we want to do and believe that a steady pace will take us there. We don’t want to be rash and make rookie mistakes.” concludes Bal Krishna.
Earn yourself a few Zoppies, order at Zopnow.