Every year millions of students spend thousands of rupees to buy their text books, knowing fully well all these books will be of no relevance after the semester. Some books get donated to libraries or other schools, some are resold to new students, some goto charity and a bulk of it find their way either with the paanwala, or the peanut seller on roads. This was the same routine that Kashyap Juthani had followed as a student, until now when he saw a business opportunity in buying and selling these text books.
Kashyap along with his three friends from his engineering days, started the first online textbook buy back model in Bucketbolt.com. The portal allows all the graduating and under graduating students to buy and sell new or old used textbooks with a buyback guarantee and an offer of upto 60% money back on return of books at the end of the year. Starting from law, business management, CA, engineering, MBBS, nursing, BDS, overseas examination prep books to Mumbai University books, religious books, social sciences etc. all are bought and sold through the website. Only those books, which have been bought from the portal, are sold and resold as second hand books on the website. The used books have a shelf life on the catalogue for only 3 months and can be churned for 4-5 cycles until it becomes unusable. Normally books which are torn, or have pages missing, have markings on them will not be taken back. The website also offers delivery and pick up services, free shipping on orders above Rs 300.
“There is no end to creative thinking and exploiting opportunities. We work in an asset light model & have built a proprietary cloud based technology platform to manage inventory and manage supply chain,” says Kashyap. Of the total stock only 2-3% of the inventory of books is kept in the system. Currently there are more than 100,000 SKUs of academic textbooks on the website alongwith data on local university based publishers for any other textbooks that maybe needed. Books are procured from retailers and local publishers on requirement basis and disbursed from there to the buyers. The website also showcases database of books available with the retailer. “Our biggest competitors are offline brick & mortar stores who have been dealing in used books since ages. So our attempt is to give a better experience to students enabled through technology” says Kashyap. The venture was completely bootstrapped till October, 2012 and did not spend a penny on paid marketing. To attract students in the early days they started campaigns to appointing Student Brand Managers and build book banks in various colleges. These interns and brand managers helped spread the word around Currently they have 100-plus brand managers across 25-plus colleges in the country and 8 book banks In Mumbai. Kashyap says another 25 book banks will be opened this year across the country to help streamline their logistics and increase penetration within the colleges. The venture has been funded by GSF Super Angels as part of accelerator program. Bucketbolt also sponsors many promotional activities, cultural festivals and events for students across colleges. On Facebook, they have two mascots Eyn and Styn to engage with their community on the site. Kashyap says that despite making negligible spends on paid marketing; the portal has seen good traction of more than 30,000 visitors on a monthly basis. The site on an average processes around 30-35 orders are each day and ships 120-150 books per day. Kashyap’s immediate goals is to set up operations in Pune & Gujarat and expand to 13 cities across the country in the coming years. He wants to replicate a similar model and implement reverse logistics (buyback of books) as even that is the core part of the business. “I also want to optimize reverse logistics in India and expand to other verticals apart from books where used and refurbished goods can be of great value to students,” says Kashyap.