This Kolkata-based social commerce startup wants to disrupt live shopping in small towns

Founded in July 2020, Kolkata-based social commerce startup SaahiHain enables SMB owners to sell their products and reach social users effectively.
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Computer engineer Rajanya Guha saw her mother, a boutique owner, struggle to operate her business amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“She had been running her business since I was a kid, and now, online selling became a necessity for her as the store suffered from a lack of customer visits and orders,” Rajanaya, Co-founder, SaahiHain, tells YourStory

She tried helping her mother by selling the products using Facebook’s live feature. However, that did not work out very well. 

The social media platform had its limitations. She says, “First, not everyone watching your live session is a shopper. Secondly, the platform does not give you insights into how to sell your products as the customer base is diverse. Moreover, many live sessions happen at the same time. And lastly, showcasing products as a girl also draws unwanted comments.” 

To tackle these issues, Rajanya roped in her colleague from IBM, Arijit Mukherjee, to start social commerce startup SaahiHain in July 2020. 

Run by Abhishari Pvt Ltd, SaahiHain is a web-only, cost-effective, and live-selling platform for local businesses to sell their products and reach social users effectively. 

According to the startup, “SaahiHain is not just another technology ecommerce platform. It is an experience that bridges online shopping and personalised brand discoverability with the use of innovative social strategies.” 

Unlike other similar apps, the platform aims to grow organically by onboarding small and medium business owners.

The beginning

According to the co-founders, the startup is headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal surrounded by states, including Bihar, Jharkhand, and Meghalaya, which has low digital literacy. 

To onboard shopkeepers on the platform, Arijit personally spoke and gave a demo of the platform to SMB owners in and around Kolkata. 

“In Kolkata, no one shows interest in your product if you go and sell it personally and if they know you are the business owner. But, when I started introducing myself as SaahiHain’s sales representative, they were ready to listen,” Arijit shares. 

Besides conducting on-ground sales meetings, it also runs organic social media campaigns to create brand awareness. 

The startup’s approach is simple – connecting buyers with various vendors through its digital Haat Bazaar and offering the same experience that people are accustomed to while visiting their favourite shops.

At present, about 58 sellers are showcasing their products to nearly 1,500 daily active users (DAUs) who spend at least 13 minutes on the platform. 

Almost 70 percent of these sellers use the platform for live selling, while the remaining use it as an ecommerce site to sell their products. These sellers come from various parts of India, including Kolkata, Mumbai, Gujarat, and Goa. 

Business model

The platform also runs various schemes, where if one person shares the details about the platform with seven more people, they can win a free reward. 

“One of the best things about operating in small towns is that if one seller likes your platform, he tells at least three-four other sellers in the mandi (market),” says Arijit. The team also does cold calls to onboard sellers. 

SMBs who use SaahiHain’s platform include Delhi-based OSR Jewellery and a few clothing stores in Ghumar Mandi in Ludhiana, Punjab, to name a few.  

SaahiHain charges a 10 percent commission on sales for its freemium model. 

The startup has two subscription plans for Rs 499 and Rs 1,999. Depending on the plan, sellers are charged a 3-10 percent commission. Sellers who are not interested in the subscription model can opt to use a small set of services for free.

Market and competition

According to Bain & Company, social commerce in India (in terms of GMV) was estimated at $2 billion in 2020, projected to reach $16-20 billion by 2025 and $60-70 billion by 2030.

So far, SaahiHain has earned Rs 1,20,000 in total revenue since July 2020

SaahiHain competes with some of the noted players, including Bengaluru-based Meesho, ex-Makemytrip Founder Sachin Bhatia’s Bulbul, Accel-backed Simsim, and Elevation Capital-backed WMall. 

Bootstrapped with about Rs 10 lakh, the startup is now looking to raise institutional funding as it looks forward to growing in the social commerce sector. 

Edited by Suman Singh

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