From the navy to building a cross-border e-commerce platform, Shayak Mazumder’s storyVishal Krishna
Shayak Mazumder’s eUnimart.com is going after the $1-trillion cross-border e-commerce business by helping SMBs.
Growing up in a Marxist family had a profound impact on little Shayak Mazumder. His father, a chemistry teacher in Bengal, exposed him to a plethora of books on nationalism, patriotism, science, mathematics, and literature. It was a stroke of luck, however, that made Shayak join the defence forces. He was preparing to write the IIT exams when he attempted the National Defence Academy entrance exam just for kicks. To his surprise, he cleared all the tests (including the physical) and was drafted into the prestigious school in 2004.
For the next eight years, he went around the world, training on a ship with distinction in gunnery, navigation, and communication. “Travelling across the world, as an officer, I realised that I wanted to do things on my own and even dreamed of being an entrepreneur,” says Shayak, founder of eUnimart in Hyderabad. He quit the navy in 2012 and began to dabble in entrepreneurship. He ran a successful restaurant and a couple of hotels in Goa and had an annual income of Rs 60 lakh for the next couple of years.
In 2014, after taking a break from his stint as a restopreneur, Shayak went off to INSEAD, Paris, to finish his MBA. While in France, he worked at a supply chain firm, heading cross-border transactions. It was here that 32-year-old Shayak realised that although cross-border e-commerce was huge in Europe and the rest of the world, Indian shoppers were yet to enjoy transactions with e-commerce companies in other countries.
That was why, in 2016, he returned to India to set up eUnimart.com, a company that helps sellers make it big in the cross-border e-commerce industry. eUnimart helps its clients with catalogue management, SKU management, listing, logistics, data analytics, customs clearance, and payments. Simply put, eUnimart will create an international presence for a brand or seller. It already works with international marketplaces like Amazon, Linio, Etsy, and Lazada.
“There are so many sellers globally that want to access different markets, but they don’t know how government duties work and how logistics works in each region,” says Shayak.
Many a time, it is the payment systems that confuse a business. A business from India selling a product in the USA requires a local bank account and address, and this can be difficult. Many mature businesses, therefore, have distribution partners in the USA who collect the payment and transfer it to the Indian account. This is how Amazon manages cross- border transactions for its merchants.
When eUnimart was being set up, Shayak was joined by co-founders Mahendra Kalkura and Saikat Roy to help build the business. Mahendra is a developer who has worked with startups as a senior engineer and developer before being roped in by Shayak. Saikat, who had worked with Shayak in Goa, has worked in logistics and also put in a stint at Myntra.
They invested less than Rs 1 crore to build the global business. The company is a platform where SMBs or sellers sign up to get advice from eUnimart’s experts to sell globally. eUnimart will charge the company a percentage of the global selling price of the product. Being only six months into operations, the company chose not to disclose its revenues.
India has over 5,00,000 sellers who have registered with various e-commerce market players. These sellers may need global services and this is where eUnimart steps in, with Shayak aggregating marketplaces in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The company is solving the following problems:
- Government regulation/documentation is simplified for sellers
- Cross-border payment settlements
- Managing returns
- Cancellations of orders
- Payment of local taxes
- Clearing outbound and inbound customs
The cross-border business
According to Accenture and AliResearch, AliBaba’s research arm, cross-border e-commerce can reach $1 trillion by 2020. Currently, it is pegged at $300 billion, mostly dominated by China, South Asia, the USA, and Europe. It is an opportunity for India to latch on to. Internet users in the world are growing. In China alone, there are 700 million shoppers online and in India, it is close to 100 million. Over the next few years, India will have more than 300 million online shoppers thanks to the penetration of the internet and the growth of smartphones.
“This is an opportunity that will be lucrative over the next decade. But the confusion that one has to solve on a platform is to understand government regulation and the kind of products that can be shopped,” says Prem Kumar, Founder, SnapBizz.
But Shayak, the one-time navy officer, believes he can do anything. He has travelled the world and understands the opportunities the gaps in cross-border trade present. Hopefully, he can scale up his revenues and make his company a platform where SMBs meet their consumers.