A large fisheries house in Kochi once employed a large MNC’s software, which, while knowing everything about the type of fish captured, processed, canned, and shipped, was lost when it came to last-mile inventory management.
This was a gap filled by Jose Kuttan and Jacob when they built a system that could track the entire chain of inventory management. But that's not all they did — the cloud-based system can track more than a million invoices for the group, ensure that it receives payments from its supply chain, and also extend credit to preferred sellers. This company — WeavedIn — is working with close to 100 SMBs in the country, trying to solve their need for well-thought-out and affordable enterprise resource planning (ERP).
"When we started three years ago, we did not begin with this idea. We wanted to build point-of-sale (POS) solutions and software for mom and pop retailers," says Jose, Co-founder, WeavedIn.
The two founders, who have known each other since 2009, came together in 2013 to build affordable cloud-based retail and ERP systems. Although their strategy was to go after the eight million kiranas or mom and pop stores in the country, they soon realised that there were more than 50 million SMEs that did not have access to cloud-based ERP systems with analytics as a major component.
After finishing his engineering at the University of Kerala in 2006, Jose worked in the corporate world for a couple of years. He left, in 2008, to finish his higher studies in the USA, and that's where the entrepreneurship bug bit him. While in the USA, he also finished a programme in business along with his master's in engineering. He also worked in the USA for a couple of years.
Jacob, on the other hand, remained in India. He finished his engineering in 2009 and worked in EMC for four years before teaming up with Jose.
"The exposure in talking to smaller retail stores and restaurants in the USA showed me that they were all using smartphone apps for inventory management and data capture," says Jose.
He contacted Jacob and discussed the idea, and the next thing you know, they decided to convert the idea into a company. They called the idea WeavedIn, a tribute to all small stores trying to weave and make sense of data.
The early days of 2013 were spent building mobile POS solutions which did not see much traction because, as they came to realise, India being a cash-led nation the demonetisation was yet to hit, small stores did not want POS solutions. However, they did find that there were small businesses who wanted mobile solutions to track their inventory and purchases. "They were not necessarily interested POS solutions — they wanted an entire array of affordable data-led software," says Jose.
So when the fisheries company piloted their product in 2014, they began replicating the entire planning software to record and reconcile transactions for all small businesses. Today there are over 100 customers using WeavedIn.
In two years, the duo has invested less than Rs 50 lakh. WeavedIn is a 10-member team.
Their competition comes mainly from GoFrugal, SnapBizz, and Fulfil because while there are several other companies that offer affordable solutions, they are all in bits and pieces. For example, some would be good only at inventory management, others at logistics management, and some only at mPOS solutions, and this is exactly where the opportunity lies for WeavedIn.
WeavedIn’s business model is to charge on the number of transactions and a subscription model. The numbers though are there to be captured in the industry, but not everyone has succeeded in winning the SMB business. Only Tally Solutions has covered millions of SMBs.
However, Tally is only an accounting software that is necessary to understand that business includes several components. The HR component is being disrupted by DarwinBox. The job-search part is disrupted by TruJobs. The mPOS device side is being cracked by EzeTap. The cloud-based POS is dominated by GoFrugal. SnapBizz and StockWise are disrupting the wholesale and mom and pop value chain management.
There are 50 million SMBs in India. Of these, only one million export globally and there are not more than three million with the software to manage entire processes.
"The next decade will be about winning the smaller businesses. The cloud has enabled a drop in technology implementation and the smartphone has helped businesses to access information faster," says Srinibas Behera, Founder, StockWise.
"There are several SaaS-based business models. It would be interesting to see how they focus on scaling up from the Indian context, which has not been easy," says Naganand Doraswamy, Founder, IdeaSpring Capital. WeavedIn, as a technology company, may be ready for growth, but it needs to go after the market that is technology-starved. The company hopes to raise $500,000 soon and can, hopefully, weave a successful future.