This SaaS startup is helping brands, retailers track their products in real time
Supply chains today lack visibility and transparency at every stage of the journey. However, most manufacturers have realised that technology can help mitigate these issues and create more intelligent supply chains capable of tracking, tracing, and authenticating everything.
To give manufacturers visibility in the supply chain, Divay Kumar and Shreyans Sipani launched O4S in early 2016. The startup helps manufacturers know where their products are, in real time.
“We are solving the issue of track and trace across supply chains and removing dependence on third parties. This is crucial for manufacturers to proactively plan production and respond to varying demands, thereby increasing profitability. The proof of the pudding is in how we are achieving this feat,” says Divay.
The Gurugram based SaaS platform is currently enabling end-to-end supply chain visibility and traceability for some of the Prominent Fortune 500 clients like Honeywell, PepsiCo, and ITC.
Divay and Shreyans were college friends, and graduated from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology. They were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug while at their respective jobs in 2013. Divay worked with companies like Emergent Ventures and Shreyans worked for Lybate.
In 2015, after months of discussion and throwing ideas around, the duo realised there was a huge gap in information accessibility in the supply chain for manufacturers.
“Most manufacturers have zero visibility across secondary and tertiary sales. They are totally dependent on third-party logistic service providers and distributors for product movement visibility. After months of brainstorming on how technology could help manufacturers gain visibility at the movement of their stock without disrupting physical supply-chain model, upsetting distribution supply chain partners or escalating costs in a low margin horizontal, the idea of O4S was evolved,” says Shreyans.
The main focus was on building a solution that could weave itself into the existing supply-chain, focusing on technology while not disrupting traditional supply chain, he adds.
O4S began with product serialisation on assigning a unique Identification ID (UID) to individual products, which could be tracked through the supply chain, using existing infrastructure.
The startup offers a B2B solution, which helps manufacturers integrate all stakeholders responsible for the movement of their products, sales, and consumption. This includes truckers and warehouses. On the B2C front, the “Original4Sure” app helps users authenticate the purchased products by scanning the O4S QR codes. The codes can also be scanned using any open source QR code scanning app.
How does it work?
O4S serialises products by providing them with a unique digital ID at the manufacturing site. Warehouses can use these UIDs for tracking incoming and outgoing inventories using android-based apps.
The retailers are required to scan these IDs upon the delivery of the products in order to participate and redeem the trade incentives. Manufacturers can then verify the collected data to understand the market penetration of products and evaluate the effectiveness of their trade promotion campaigns.
With its ‘track and trace’ capability, companies can also realise some of the key benefits like real-time visibility, product movement, inventory efficiency, and consumer profiling.
The startup offers a suite of easily scalable web software and mobile app to be used as a service for features such as product serialisation, consumer verification, retailer loyalty programme, and inventory management, among others.
It has also hosted a cloud infrastructure where businesses pay a monthly fee to get access to various modules as per their requirements. It also allows businesses to cater to their distributors, retailers, and customers worldwide, without limiting their scope to any specific region or country.
“O4S’ value proposition lies in the fact that we use technologies such as machine learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) to integrate into an existing ecosystem. The solution is easy to deploy (mobile app based), incurs negligible capital expenditure (SaaS), and does not cause disruption to existing way of functioning,” says Shreyans.
Shreyans and Divay have invested close to $35,000 from their personal savings. Till date, they have raised a funding of $3.5 million, which includes Pre-Series A from VC firm Venture Highway and prominent angel investors such as Amit Singhal and Subhrakant Panda, amongst others. The founders refused to reveal their revenue numbers as yet.
Speaking about challenges, Divay says, the founders had to spend a lot of time educating their customers regarding the concept.
“While businesses are usually very excited to see how we are solving the issue of distribution supply-chain, they are equally curious to know how we achieved this feat. Getting the right talent was also a challenge. We have selected our workforce holding specific skill sets, and then further molded them into our brand ambassadors,” says Divay.
“Expanding in the Middle East has been a good challenge for us. We have not faced any difficulty with UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, but expanding to other countries has been a challenging experience. We had to rebuild our strategies on export, import, invoicing, and accounting standards. We hope with growing open markets, inter country trade between these countries will improve over time, and we will be able to serve them even better,’’ says Divay.
However, in 2019, the startup was able to successfully expand its geographical presence in the Middle East. By the end of 2020, it aims to expand in the South-East Asian region.
Currently, O4S has over 30 clients across industries in India and the Middle East region, including eight Fortune 500 companies belonging to FMCG, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and apparels industries. Some of its prominent clients include Honeywell, PepsiCo, ITC, Campus, Sterling Agro, Pasura, and JK Agri among others.
“Our first customer win was PepsiCo. Pepsi’s two litre jars were a highly counterfeited commodity in the market. We understood the urgency to safeguard their brand image and weed out elements putting a dent in their revenues. What was more critical was the health-risk that people faced after consuming counterfeited products. So, when we showcased our solution to the management, PepsiCo personnel were very responsive to our technology, and highly enthusiastic about working with a startup,” says Shreyans.
This was in 2017. The startup competes with ERP players like RAMCO and GoFrugal.
The COVID-19 impact
The startup’s existing customers/manufacturers have witnessed a slowdown in production, but O4S claims it has not incurred any direct impact.
“The COVID-19 is an unfortunate situation, which is going to affect masses and businesses, including new business. However, being a product that is core to supply-chain’s effectiveness, we will still be relevant,” say the founders.
The startup is now focussing on building newer products and upgrading the existing ones for its customers. Additionally, it is taking this situation as a challenge and is developing new solutions to cater to the businesses which are prone to get affected. Issues such as supply chain visibility, product movement, and counterfeited products will be more prevalent during COVID-19, and O4S believes that is prepared to help customers overcome challenges.
Edited by Megha Reddy