How this B2B procurement enablement startup grew 10X over 1 year
“Before we started this business, I did not know that there were 90 types of eggs or even 800 types of brooms,” quips Udit Karan Chandhok. The business he is referring to is Delhi-headquartered, a bottom of the pyramid focused B2B (business-to-business) procurement enablement platform for large-size enterprises that he launched with his long-time friend Akash Narain Mittal.
The business introduced the duo to an all-new world of products that not many were aware of or talking about.
“WCube started with the sole objective of making unsexy sexy,” Udit tells YourStory. “Because of my previous role at ad firm Dentsu Aegis Network, I was aware of the challenges the industry had in terms of customer acquisition and product supply, and that is where I found a sweet spot that I can target mid and large size enterprises and sell them something that is very unsexy.”
Over the last two years, the startup has gone from serving a few horeca (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) clients to serving 280 clients while selling 50 million products across 30 categories. WCube’s clients include IndiaMart, PVR Cinemas, The Oberoi Group, Orient electric, JLL, Quess, Concentrix, OLX, Westin Hotel Group, Max Healthcare, and Nirula’s among others.
The startup’s first client was Lemon Tree Hotels. WCube had an initial meeting with the client with a tray of eggs to pitch the quality and standardisation that they would be able to offer. They got a trial order for 1,000 eggs for a single day and scaled that up to 5,000 eggs a day with just the same client in a month, Udit recalls.
On March 25 this year, WCube raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round from Mumbai Angels, x10xventures and FAAD Network through Business Ally, a business networking platform.
“WCube is leading the way in helping mid and large-sized enterprises buy better and is solidly positioned to grow sustainably and rapidly into Indian entities’ preferred procurement partner,” said Rishabh Dugar, Co-Founder and CMD, x10xventures at the time of the funding.
How it works
The startup operates on a buy-and-sell model, wherein WCube buys in bulk from its suppliers and MSME partners, and sells it to large enterprises as per their requirements.
The startup also procures products through institutional sales partnerships with companies like Hindustan Unilever, Nestle, Luxor, Havells, Castrol, and Diversey.
WCube’s product lines can broadly be catalogued into six categories, i.e., facility management, engineering products, soft and hard tools, stationery and office supplies, hospitality supplies, furniture, and furnishing.
To maintain its supply, the startup currently has two hubs in Delhi and Mumbai.
Udit says with quality being a high priority, quality checks are done by WCube at its warehouses.
Right from the beginning, the startup has looked to solve three problem statements faced by large enterprises - consistency of product quality, consistency in supply and timely delivery, and accountability and transparency.
Brand acquisition and relationship building
WCube deals in six product lines while acquiring brands and partnering with vendors, and these are further divided into 35 smaller categories.
For branded products, the startup partners with the brand and is then allotted a vendor in its area who supplies the products. For instance, for a product like Harpic, a cleaning liquid, WCube partnered with the FMCG giant Reckitt and was assigned a vendor by the company.
This makes expansion to new cities a smoother process because WCube would then have lesser vendor contracts to sign, explains Udit, citing an example of the startup’s recent launch in Mumbai.
“For non-branded products, we partner with manufacturers because it gives us control over the quality of the product and consistency of supply,” explains Udit.
WCube has a feet-on-street acquisition strategy for customers. Commonly known as field merchandising, in this style of marketing, sales folks travel to individual stores to place products and negotiate better display presence.
Once a new customer is acquired, the startup farms the clients. Udit claims that in October 2021, WCube was earning Rs 6 lakh monthly revenue from one single client. Having worked with the client for a few months, the startup was able to make approximately Rs 3.4 crore monthly revenue from the same client.
By December 2022, WCube plans to launch CubeCredit, a discounting platform for the company’s vendors.
“The idea behind building this entire engine on the vendor’s side is that this would help us look at stronger manufacturing contacts,” says Udit.
In the current financial year, the startup wants to turn its vendors into its clients by procuring raw materials for them.
The startup also plans to expand its business by opening hubs in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Ahmedabad and having multiple dispatch centres under these hubs.
WCube became profitable in 2020 and continued to remain so in 2021, Udit tells YS. The company has grown 10x over the last year, he concludes happily.
Edited by Anju Narayanan and Affirunisa Kankudti