Open for business: Oyela helps small brands sell big through digital storefronts
Gurugram-based startup Oyela helps new-age social media stores and product creators grow their businesses through its network-driven platform.
In the early days of establishing an online brand for women’s clothing on Instagram, 26-year-old Vitsi Vitseivono was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running the entire store on her own. “Collecting payments, shipping, and customer support was daunting to handle at one go,” she says.
As per a Deloitte survey, 63% of millennials and GenZs aspire to start something of their own and become financially independent. However, social media platforms are not originally designed for commercial purposes, thus, presenting a barrier.
Enter, a network-driven collaborative commerce platform that helps small business owners on social media platforms with the tools, resources, and mentorship to expand their run-out-of-home businesses.
Founded in 2021 by IIT Bombay alumni Rahul Gope and Anjan Kumar Patel, the Gurugram-based startup helped Vitseivono automate the entire process, letting her focus on curating and showcasing her products. She says streamlining the operations helped bump up sales—from selling 200 products a month to now recording 3,000+ monthly product sales.
“Through our Oyela earnings, we even took the plunge into the physical retail space,” she tells YourStory.
The startup, with a 40-member team, helps businesses set up and manage their digital storefronts by providing them with tools to collaborate with other sellers, streamline their operations, and enhance their social reach through Instagram automation.
Oyela’s collaboration tech tool enables stores to collaborate and gain endorsements through each other’s storefronts for more visibility. The integration of the social media automation feature facilitates the export of products as posts on Instagram, automates customer interaction, and streamlines order collection through Instagram DMs, Stories, and comments.
Moreover, Oyela's AI system helps businesses spot and stop fake sellers and transactions. The aim is to build trust for buyers by showing clear ratings and reviews on the storefront. The built-in AI system takes into account 14 behavioural and sales parameters of a seller to identify and block potentially fraudulent sellers or transactions.
“As per our platform data, out of the last 100,000 orders, there were only 3,000 returns and refunds. This results in consistent and higher sales for Oyela sellers,” says Gope.
Helping small-scale businesses
Gope started Oyela with Patel to provide tools and opportunities for other businesses he wished he had during his entrepreneurial journey. The entrepreneurs were earlier roommates when they studied at IIT Bombay, after which Patel worked in Product Development roles atand .
“Hailing from the Andaman Islands, I ran an online pearl boutique alongside my parents. However, I felt like a passenger rather than the driver of my own business. Ultimately, my venture died down due to lack of discovery and operational barriers,” says CEO Gope.
“Witnessing this surge of creative entrepreneurship in India, I realised that the challenges I faced may very well be shared across an entire generation,” he adds.
Oyela operates with a single goal: convert social media platforms into highly effective sales channels. It wants to help sellers overcome operational barriers by building their supply chain over time.
Funding and the road ahead
In October 2023, Oyela secured Rs 14.4 crore in the seed funding round led by. The startup aims to use the funds for infrastructure and add new intuitive sales-enhancing features and services to streamline the supply chain.
In the last 12 months, more than 20,000 Instagram stores have joined Oyela organically, many of whom have seen up to 2.5X growth in orders at no cost of new buyer acquisition, the startup says. Currently, the company has over 25,000 sellers on its platform.
“Over the next five years, the goal is to establish and empower two million such social stores, capturing 1.6% of the ecommerce market and 9.5% of the social commerce market in India,” says Gope.
Oyela onboards a large number of sellers organically through their collaborations with other sellers. It charges a fixed commission from the sellers.
The startup’s projected Revenue Run Rate for FY 2024 is $3 million in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) and $300,000 in revenue. The month-on-month revenue growth rate is reported at 20%.
Oyela competes with the likes of ETSY and Swiggy Minis. While SaaS solutions such as Dukaan focus on operations, larger marketplaces (such as, , ETSY) suit big sellers. This leads small businesses to use social media platforms like Instagram for product visibility.
As per Bain and Company, the social and content commerce market in India is projected to reach $70 billion by 2030, driven by the rising trend of small and medium businesses utilising social media channels for sales.
“Presently, there are more than 200 million businesses and sellers on Instagram globally. The next 10 years of ecommerce growth will have a meaningful contribution from Gen Z sellers,” Gope notes.
Edited by Kanishk Singh