[Startup Bharat] These Patna-based entrepreneurs are empowering retailers and consumers with last-mile ecommerce
Twenty-four-year-old Manish Kumar, who grew up in Bihar, realised that both retailers as well as consumers in the state do not get the same experience when it comes to logistics, prices, ease of business, and tech as compared to metro cities.
This realisation, which hit him during the first COVID lockdown, unleashed his entrepreneurial spirit. Manish started, a platform that brings last-mile businesses online and helps consumers to buy directly from them, in August 2021.
“We want to be much more than Udaan, as it is just a B2B company, while we are a B2B-B2C-D2C company,” says Manish.
He adds that none of the major companies have been able to crack the supply chain, last-mile business, and logistics in small towns, and Flyseas is confident that it will be able to do so, as the founders understand the problem first hand and have done all the footwork.
Manish formally launched the platform in August this year with his friends Ashish Kumar Babul, Prakash Kumar, Shivam Kumar, and Sumit Kumar, with a simple aim to make last-mile online services like FMCG and other essentials less complex in Tier II and Tier III towns of India.
In the last three months, the Patna-based startup has been marking 100 percent growth month-on-month, with a revenue of more than Rs 1.5 crore in just three months.
How it started?
A marine engineering graduate from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Manish says, he always had an itch of doing something of his own, but he could act upon it only when he saw a problem statement. After doing a six-month training on a ship, he could understand the basics of logistics. He returned to Patna in early 2020, but he had to stay back because of the coronavirus outbreak and the first nationwide lockdown.
During this time, as a consumer, he realised that people in smaller towns do not have access to buying essentials online similar to people living in metro cities. His curiosity led him to dig some more and speak to sellers in Patna as to why they don't operate online, and he found out that till the time brands and items reach the last mile, the prices keep increasing and commissions are high for these businesses.
“Similarly, quality products were not accessible to all in smaller towns,” he says. He realised that this problem statement will become the foundation of his startup and he started putting things together. He roped in his friends as co-founders and together they backtracked the supply chain and broke the chain to connect businesses directly with the suppliers, and hence benefit both retailers as well as consumers in terms of pricing.
Market and competition
The ecommerce industry was largely dominated by the fashion and electronic segments, but the pandemic changed this status quo and other categories such as personal care, beauty and wellness, and FMCG and healthcare are witnessing massive online growth.
According to a report by Avendus, India's D2C market is going to be worth $100 billion in five years, and FMCG is one of India’s largest sectors with the ecommerce industry being pegged at $38 billion in size.
Flyseas aims to tap into all these segments and is confident to co-exist with the likes of Udaan, Amazon, and ITC, for its focus being on last-mile enablement of retailers and consumers with fast delivery like in two hours, claims Manish.
He claims that Flyseas has a simple process to onboard new sellers and manage their business on the platform.
“We observed a big loophole in retail chain business in small towns of Bihar. Observing the market closely, we saw the system of wholesaling and retailing is not well-organised. On the other hand, the profit margins were thin for on-ground retailers. This led us to create a platform where we will connect retailers to wholesalers and also connect consumers to the retailers,” explains Manish.
The startup is currently catering to FMCG products and grocery items, and it will soon expand to other categories with a focus on daily needs.
Funding, business, and plans ahead
Flyseas is currently working on three business models -- B2B, B2C, and D2C. Besides getting a percentage of transactions, the startup also earns revenue from its direct-to-consumer line where it has launched its own private label of products like rice, dry fruits, flour, sea buckthorn and others.
“We are yet to name our private label, but we will ensure that small towns get quality at par with metros,” says Manish. He says, in just three months, the startup’s revenue has crossed Rs 1.5 crore mark and it is looking to grow 100 percent month-on-month. It has so far onboarded more than 1,000 retailers and aims to grow exponentially in the next 12-18 months.
“We will also help people to start business from home like housewives or people looking for jobs, and help them with finance as well,” says Manish.
The founding team has been bootstrapping the company and has invested about Rs 35 lakh from their personal savings, friends, and family, and are now looking for investors to strengthen the offering and expand the business to other cities.
With a team of 25 members that include delivery riders as well, the startup is doing about 100 orders a day in Muzaffarpur and Patna, and is looking to expand to other cities in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh in FY22, and increase the order number ten times, says Manish.
“We have planned various methods to promote our ecommerce platform and are expecting one million registered customers in the next year,” he adds.