[Startup Bharat] Despite internet shutdowns, this Kashmiri engineer is betting on ecommerce

Started in July 2019, Koshur Store sources goods from local vendors and sells them across India. In 2021, the startup delivered 37,409 orders at an average ticket size of Rs 1,000.
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The pandemic came as a blessing in disguise for several ecommerce and quick commerce giants including Amazon, Flipkart, Zepto, and Swiggy

According to Rakuten Insights, around 59 percent of consumers surveyed said that purchased online during the pandemic as they were practising social distancing. The 2021 Global Payments Report by Worldpay FIS said the Indian ecommerce market was projected to grow 21 percent annually over the next four years.

While the COVID-19 pandemic gave a major boost to digital commerce in metropolitan cities, it also opened up opportunities in Tier-II and III cities, as well as in rural areas, where people did not have easy access to online commerce.

One of the startups that took off was Srinagar-based digital marketplace Koshur Store founded by 23-year-old computer engineer Moris Adam.

Starting up young in Kashmir

Moris’ fascination with coding started at the age of 12, and he even began designing web pages for local businesses.

In 2017, he joined Punjab Technical University to study computer science. While designing web pages, Moris gained knowledge about businesses in Kashmir and got in touch with many vendors. 

“I wanted to start an ecommerce platform in Srinagar because the penetration in the region is still quite low,” says Moris. “Bigger marketplaces have tried to enter the state, but something or the other does not work out,” he tells YourStory

Started in July 2019, Koshur Store is a curated digital marketplace that sources products from local vendors and sells them on its website. The startup began by selling across categories including fashion, home care, small electronics, and accessories. 

However, after only a month into its operations, the Kashmir Valley faced an internet shutdown following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Due to the shutdown, Koshur Store’s operations came to a screeching halt.

“We were getting a few orders every day but after the internet was disconnected, what can anyone do,” sighs Moris. 

Faced with the challenge of delivering in the Valley, Moris expanded the operations to serve across India. “For six to seven months, to keep the portal operational, I had partnered with third-party logistics players and were delivering local goods across India. Major demand would come from neighbouring states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh,” says Moris.

Credit: YourStory Design

To make up for the lost earnings, the founder took up more web development work for a larger number of businesses, alongside running Koshur Store. “I used to take up a lot of freelance projects; there were also a few international projects, and I also created the website for my college,” he adds.

Running an ecommerce marketplace 

Once internet restrictions started getting lifted in January 2020, Moris developed versions of his existing app and website that were compatible with the 2G network. The startup also restarted local deliveries in May 2020. 

Riding on the ecommerce wave amid the COVID-19-led lockdowns, Koshur Store fulfilled 2,885 orders with an average ticket size of Rs 800 in eight months of restarting the operations, delivering 300 orders every month. 

In 2021, the startup delivered 37,409 orders at an average ticket size of Rs 1,000, averaging 3,000 orders every month. 

The startup also added more categories, serving up to 30 categories with over 10,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs). 

Business model and future

Koshur Store, which started as a bootstrapped firm, raised Rs 5 lakh from Punjab Angel Network in 2021. The startup also has its own delivery fleet of over 15 personnel operating across 25 delivery units. 

These partners deliver across India through third-party delivery players. However, the startup also offers quick delivery in Srinagar, Baramullah, Anantnag, and Budgam. Koshur Store claims to deliver products within an hour and is now trying to bring the delivery time in the Valley down to 30-40 minutes. 

While Koshur Store delivers pan India, local deliveries account for 70 percent of the startup’s revenue. In FY 2022, the company generated a revenue of Rs 2.9 crore, and it is now targeting Rs 5 crore in the current fiscal year.

However, for Moris, the biggest challenge is to keep the delivery executives motivated. “When I was in Chandigarh, I saw a delivery partner having a Dominos box on his scooter. He was wearing a Zomato t-shirt and also had a Rapido sticker on his vehicle. This culture still does not exist in Jammu and Kashmir. I want to bring that here,” says Moris. 

As of now, the startup provides these partners with incentives, including extra commission for products delivered. 

Relying on the growing demand for ecommerce, along with the increasing reach of the internet, Koshur Store aims to reach 10,000 orders per month in the next 12 months. The startup is also adding more categories and SKUs.

Edited by Kanishk Singh