Plotch.ai’s pursuit to help brands join ONDC is a push towards expanding India’s retail sector
Within just two years of starting up, Mumbai-based Plotch.ai has assisted 19 big names like Paytm, Meesho, and Snapdeal to join the open ecommerce network. With a $3 million funding round underway, it aims to log revenue of Rs 10 crore by the end of FY25.
ONDC—the government’s effort towards democratising ecommerce in India—has been the talk of the town for over a year and a half now. With big players like , , , and joining the league, the protocol is touted to bring about UPI-like success in the country.
The prospect of nurturing a trillion-dollar opportunity and the ability to set an inspirational example for the rest of the world has excited many, including Manoj Gupta, Co-founder of , who has developed a software-enabling platform for brands that wish to join the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).
“When the potential ofwas recognised two years ago, nobody was trying to build the software. Imagine the volume of software capabilities we would need if we’re trying to build a trillion-dollar network,” Gupta tells YourStory.
Gupta, who co-founded online ethnic fashion brandalong with his wife Monica Gupta, set out to build software for ONDC aspirants in April 2021, making its mark as an early mover in the space. Plotch.ai enables digital companies to join the open ecommerce network by offering technical support in the form of a tech stack for both buyers and sellers.
“We took a leap of faith by betting on a brand-new proposition. We are focused on grabbing opportunities early so that we can become the next big thing,” Gupta says, speaking about how it feels to build something nobody has tried before.
In July, Plotch.ai raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding led by early-stage investor Antler India with participation from Peak XV Partners and Global Founders Capital.
Plotch.ai was part of YourStory’s Tech30 cohort for 2023.
The business strategy
Gupta derives optimism towards ecommerce from his experience as the co-founder of direct-to-consumer brand Craftsvilla, which he has been running for the last 12 years with his wife.
“E-retail today is just 5%-6% of total retail in the country and the government is working towards boosting the number to 50%-60%. We will see a dramatic shift and it will be powered by ONDC,” he says.
ONDC will experience exponential growth in the coming years across categories such as mobility, insurance, education, and agriculture, among others, according to Gupta.
However, the network is novel and will require players—businesses as well as consumers—to adapt. For enterprises, Plotch.ai helps them get started on the open network quickly and without a hassle by offering a technology stack.
The Mumbai-based firm’s stack consists of three main components—an application layer, middleware, and a network layer. However, the three layers perform different functions for buyer-side and seller-side applications depending on the requirements.
In the context of ONDC, buyer-side apps are those that enable users to purchase goods through their own app or platform (like Paytm, PhonePe’s Pincode, and Spice Money). Seller apps, on the other hand, facilitate buyer requests and in response, produce a catalogue of products and fulfill buyer orders.
On the buyer-side, the software’s application layer refers to the smartphone application or website which facilitates transactions. The middleware layer is essentially the enterprise resource planning (ERP) layer, which is required to run the different features of the purchase process, including refund and customer ticket management.
On the seller side, the application and ERP layer consists of a seller-focused panel which will enable brands to manage orders, inventory, and catalogues through a browser.
The ONDC layer in both applications will expedite the process of integrating the brand’s API with the ONDC ecosystem.
Plotch.ai promises to help brands go live with the integrated software within four weeks, which would otherwise take at least a year, says Gupta.
“We follow two distinct approaches during the onboarding process—brands can opt for our bundled solution, which is the easiest way to join ONDC quickly, or connect their existing ERPs with our tech stack,” Gupta explains, adding that the first option is popular since it is convenient.
Scaling the business
Plotch.ai, which has a 42-member team, now aims to onboard a total of 50 clients by the end of FY24 and 200 by March 2025, Gupta tells YourStory.
The firm’s revenue model consists of a one-time setup fee and draws up an annual maintenance contract to schedule software updates and other upgrades. Separately, it charges a small fee as transaction charges on every order fulfilled by a Plotch.ai-supported brand.
“Once the order volume scales up, the transaction fee will help us cover the cost of handling orders on the network,” Gupta says.
The ONDC infrastructure company is also looking to raise capital to the tune of $3 million to expand into new categories such as insurance, lending, and mutual funds, according to Gupta. “We have received good interest from several investors and should close the round soon,” he adds.
Gupta notes that Plotch.ai is well on its way to log a revenue of Rs 2.5 crore in FY24 and touch Rs 10 crore by the end of FY25.
Plotch.ai’s foundation rests on the fact that Gupta is bullish on India’s ecommerce potential. Moreover, he believes that enterprises must join the ONDC bandwagon to realise the opportunity.
“We’re still only scratching the surface. There’s so much more within ONDC waiting to be explored—right from insurance to mobility. This means that most brands would require external software and that’s where we come in,” Gupta adds.
(Lead image design by Nihar Apte)
Edited by Megha Reddy