Gurugram-based StartupArena is a B2B marketplace for product and services focussed on small businesses and startups.
Founders: Shantanu Singh Chauhan, Sunita Maheshwari, and Deepak Maheshwari
Year it was founded: 2017
Where is it based: Gurugram
Sector: B2B marketplace
The problem it solves: Offers a B2B marketplace for products and services for small businesses and startups
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
Starting up isn’t easy, and finding the right partners and vendors for your business is forever a hassle.
To help startups and small businesses find the right lead, Shantanu Singh Chauhan, Sunita Maheshwari, and Deepak Maheshwari founded StartupArena — a B2B marketplace for product and services focussed on small businesses and startups.
“We help startups and small businesses scale by connecting them with right partners for their business needs,” says Shantanu.
StartupArena, through its website, provides products and services with a clearly stated price point from a variety of verified vendors to choose from.
Besides, for those startups and small businesses who need leads to grow their business, Startup Arena provides an advanced lead management system that allows the business to manage the end-to-end needs of the customer.
The beta testing of its platform started in January 2017 and it was ready within six months.
Explaining the process, Shantanu says, “All our end-customers visit vendor deal page — they go through his prices, his terms, and condition and we finally connect them with him by providing his details. This is a one-to-one process — each lead is passed to the selected vendor only. We follow up with vendor to make sure the customer is served. We believe sharing leads with the customer only increases cost-based competition (who can provide cheaper), and quality is always forgotten or set aside while delivering services.”
Not an easy start
The founders of StartupArena realised that every business has to negotiate a way out of the maze of vendors who seem to offer best services at best prices, yet only a few deliver what they promise.
“We realised that if we list all such vendors who are known to provide high-quality services in one place, we could help startups and small businesses too. Simultaneously, by bringing business to such service providers, we can help them to eliminate their cost of sales,” he added.
They claim to verify every vendor before on-boarding them to the site.
Strength lies in the team
After starting with only three members, the founders gradually added people in marketing, development and sales, and they now have a team of 14.
Prior to this, Shantanu had helped in founding, ValueFirst — a messaging and digital media company. With a background in technology and business, he was looking for partner who understood the nuances of finance and business.
Deepak was previously the CFO for multiple business units at GE Capital, India. He also ran a boutique business advisory firm (Jindagi Live Consulting) based out of Gurugram which is focussed on helping startups, small and medium business units, as well as large corporates.
Sunita is a Chartered Accountant and runs a successful Chartered Accountancy firm (Sunita Maheshwari & Co) based out of Gurugram which helps startups, SMBs as well as large corporates on all kinds of financial, tax and compliance matters.
Power-packed market opportunity
With a commission-based revenue model, StartupArena started acquiring paid customers from May last year. It has over 0.6 million business visitors, over 6,000 service providers/businesses listed, and over 12,000 businesses served.
The team expects to close this financial year with Rs 0.7 crore of revenue.
A report from SPO India states that the Indian B2B market is currently worth $300 billion, and is estimated to grow to $700 billion by 2020. There are 4.8 crore SMEs that need to secure bulk supplies, a market much bigger than B2C. Currently, China, Japan and the US are the biggest drivers of the B2B e-commerce market. However, some of the big players in India include Amazon Business, Power2SME, IndustryBuying and Bizongo. Many more startups are joining the league.
Talking about its differentiator, Shantanu says, “Our USP is that leads are given to customers post a strong verification process and a single lead does not go to multiple providers. This helps in a great customer experience for both the sellers as well as the buyers. It significantly improves the chances of a deal getting closed without the buyer getting harassed from multiple sellers and also helps the seller as he does not have to unnecessarily fight with multiple other sellers to get business.”
Presently bootstrapped, StartupArena is actively looking to raise fund to expand its product portfolio and market reach.
In the future, StartupArena would like to expand month-on-month with paying customers onboard, by delivering quality leads. Shantanu says, “Over the next 12 months we expect to cross 50,000 small and medium businesses getting served through our platform.”