How the outside-in perspective from Reliance Industries is helping 2 startups in their scaling-up plansSindhu MV
Scoring high by easing retailers’ pain points
Suraj Vazirani, Sumit Karanji, and Harshad Vagdoda have had a roller-coaster entrepreneurial journey. Whether it was running a mobile retail store or starting their own marketplace, maniacstore.com. These experiences led to the trio building a successful startup, which goes by a very quirky name – Don’t Scratch Your Head (DSYH).
True to its name, the startup aims to reduce the challenges involved in the backend of e-commerce by serving as a central pillar between logistics companies, payment gateways, marketplaces and online sellers. DSYH does complex reconciliations based on smart algorithms and rule boxes, making lives easier for all the entities involved.
Elaborating on how DSYH addresses retailers’ pain points, Harshad Vagdoda, CTO, says, “Any seller who sells on multiple portals (Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Paytm) processes orders and gets paid as per marketplace policies. Marketplaces deduct their charges, commission, weight handling and other overheads before paying the seller. For a seller dealing in multiple marketplaces, it becomes impossible to reconcile accounts, payments, returned orders, promotional amounts and other items under a single window.” He adds, “DSYH solves their reconciliation problems and acts as an MIS (Management Information System) for their profitability and collectibles. It gives an exact picture of their accounting transactions with marketplaces in real time, while also offering past reconciliations of business already done, probably for the first time in the world.” While reconciliation is a core aspect of DSYH, it also offers order processing, inventory management, offline POS modules and a single window for all the needs of a retailer and e-tailer. Suraj Vazirani, CEO, says,
“We always thought Maniacstore could be the next Flipkart, but coming from a non-metro like Gandhinagar, we did not have access to mentorship, technology or the venture capital ecosystem. At times, it felt that the initial enthusiasm about every solution being built was wearing down but we kept our hopes high and eventually rolled out DSYH in November 2015.” Today, DSYH has processed more than 1 million orders, with seller GMV crossing more than $12 million.
Sharing how the team got traction and also the industry interested in their startup idea, Sumit Karanji, COO, says, “We began applying and presenting at various industry forums and contests such as ThinkNext2016, and those conducted by MindBatteries and NextBigWhat. And then we got the big break into GenNext Hub.”
Explaining why they were keen on making it to the GenNext Hub, Suraj shares that Dhruvil Sanghvi, CEO of LogiNext, has been a mentor to DSYH since its initial days. “We saw the success that LogiNext garnered after being selected in the GenNext Hub programme. This encouraged us. Also, we have always been obsessed with the sheer scale that Reliance has achieved. So we thought why not learn it directly from a company which achieved scale, and help ourselves for our scale-up plans.”
Sumit describes GenNext Hub as an excellent hub for startups like them. One of the biggest advantages for the team has been that GenNext Hub has enabled DSYH to connect with the biggest accounting software solution company in India which, according to Sumit, has been “a big hack in initiating the enterprise solutions and a big confidence booster.” DSYH is also doing a pilot with two of Reliance's business units, enabling the startup to gain scale.
GenNext Hub is also supporting the co-founders to improvise on their pitches and communication skills to be able to present to big VCs in future, and helping them build an annual operating plan. Suraj says, “These initiatives will help us bring clarity into our future roadmap and make fewer mistakes.”
DSYH has recently raised $250,000 from Venture Catalysts headed by Dr. Apoorv Sharma and sees itself becoming the fastest company achieving Rs 1,000 crore in revenue in the reconciliation space. The co-founders are pinning their hopes on DSYH playing a pivotal role in shaping and redefining reconciliation-as-a-service in India and around the globe. Recently, DSYH has started pilots with banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) to co-develop a credit rating tool for lending to the e-commerce seller ecosystem with DSYH’s Smart Data Analytics.
Bridging the digital divide among the non-English speaking audience
Founded by two former Microsoft employees with more than 40+ years of cumulative experience, Megdap Innovation Labs is working to make the business and entrepreneurial ecosystem more inclusive for non-English speakers through language technology.
Meghashyam Karanam, co-founder and CEO, says, “Megdap was founded with the singular goal of bridging the digital divide by creating an ecosystem for business that blends local relevance with a sustainable business model for all stakeholders.” Pradeep Parappil, co-founder & CTO, explains that Megdap’s focus is to bring the collective power of technology, language, and business to a global non-English speaking audience and address the language technology demands of large enterprise customers and consumers. It is towards this larger aim that the startup is building a highly scalable cloud-based language technology platform – TexLang.
One of the nine startups from the GenNext Hub 2016 summer batch, the duo were keen on Megdap being part of the programme for two reasons. The first was the backing of two major corporates – Reliance and Microsoft. The second reason – great feedback from a startup that was part of GenNext Hub’s earlier batch.
They were very excited when they found out that they would be part of GenNext Hub. In Meghashyam’s words, this excitement has continued into the programme, with GenNext Hub enabling Megdap access to ‘customers, cash, and cloud. He further says, “GenNext Hub has connected us to RIL’s internal stakeholders, investors, and even major tech companies.”
Additionally, the programme has helped them improvise on aspects such as product planning, legal procedures, financial models, etc. Meghashyam says, “We have made some significant improvements, especially in product planning. We are much more agile now. We have changed our focus to build for the market, build to suit customer needs, rather than building because we want those features in our product. We have also fine-tuned our pricing models.”
Another area where GenNext Hub has made a big impact for Megdap is helping them refine their pitch and the way they present their story. Meghashyam says,
“As entrepreneurs, we are super focused on what we are capable of developing and delivering. It’s more of an inside-out view. But, customer interactions will get you an outside-in perspective. This helps to strengthen your pitch and your story. The more customer interactions you have, the better it gets. GenNext Hub gave us that opportunity by introducing us to many of their business units.”
The startup has been bootstrapped so far and is looking to raise funding shortly. Sharing their experience as first-time entrepreneurs, Pradeep says, “Starting on our own has been a very different experience altogether. Things that we have taken for granted for so many years, became very difficult to organise – be it furniture, an internet connection or paying bills on time.”
The co-founders say that the entrepreneurial journey has been a mixed bag of ups and downs. Meghashyam says,
“The biggest learning has been that as an entrepreneur, anything and everything about your startup becomes your responsibility. You can no longer shy away from it or rely on someone else to do it, even though it may not be your forte.”
As part of its four-month long immersive programme, GenNext Hub gives chosen startups access to funding, business mentors, technical and design experts, plug-and-play office space and other resources and thereby enables startups achieve scale.