How this startup helps over 100 brands like Paragon, Soch, BodyShop and MTR ace their ecommerce game

Entrepreneur Sonu Somapalan says the pandemic changed companies' perception of ecommerce from a good-to-have channel to something of strategic importance. Her Bengaluru-based ecommerce analytics firm is helping over 100 brands make the most of it.

How this startup helps over 100 brands like Paragon, Soch, BodyShop and MTR ace their ecommerce game

Thursday June 02, 2022,

4 min Read

The year was 2006. Sonu Somapalan was working as a marketer when ecommerce was only just beginning to generate interest and dominant players such as Flipkart and Amazon were yet to make a mark in India.

With a bachelor's in business management from PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore and PGDM in marketing and finance from TA Pai Management Institute in Manipal, Sonu was working closely on brand management and digital marketing for companies like Mahindra Holidays & Resorts. 

She noted that companies not only lacked insights from their data regarding digital marketing and ecommerce but many traditional businesses were not very comfortable navigating the space. 

For Sonu who has always wanted to start something on her own, it seemed like the perfect time and co-founded ecommerce analytics company Tenovia, along with Murali Balan in 2006.

Women entrepreneur

Murali Balan and Sonu Somapalan, Co-founders, Tenovia

Starting up

Based in Bengaluru, Tenovia offers a range of services and products to help brands in the areas of ecommerce technology, marketplace management, marketing and analytics. 

Its flagship product, Tensight, allows brands to manage and optimise their performance across major platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and Myntra. It also allows brands to track their competitor’s pricing and discounting strategies in real-time. 

In addition to services in digital transformation, providing ecommerce marketplace support, and data analytics, Tenovia does not follow a cookie-cutter approach and offers customised solutions to various problems a brand may be facing. 

For example, it has built the entire technology stack for Tata International and built, operated, and transferred the whole ecommerce process for MTR and BodyShop. 

With Landmark Books as its first client, Tenovia now serves more than 100 clients including the likes of Paragon, Soch, BodyShop, Hackett, MTR, Anita Dongre, Levi's, Aditya Birla, Emami, Kesh King, Health and Glow, among others.

In the last 15 years of operation, Tenovia has clocked a cumulative revenue of Rs 100 crore. 

Over the years, many global and domestic players have emerged to help brands ace their online presence and navigate ecommerce marketplaces. Valued at $46.2 billion in 2020, the Indian ecommerce market is expected to grow to $188 billion by 2025 and $ 350 billion by 2030, according to India Brand Equity Foundation.

While most global brands focus on Amazon as the most mature ecommerce marketplace, Sonu believes it would take more to grow in India where other platforms like Flipkart and Myntra are equally favoured online shopping destinations for end consumers. Tenovia helps brands manage their presence across these marketplaces via a single platform. 

At the same time, it enjoys an early mover’s advantage in the domestic market. 

Being a ‘woman entrepreneur’ and other challenges 

Working in a traditionally male-oriented industry came with its share of gender biases for Sonu.

"At a boardroom of one of the top brands in the country, I was among a group of 16 men in the room representing my company for a negotiating exercise. People assumed I would not survive but I closed the deal," she recalls. 

However, Sonu says gender bias also includes women showing internalised bias that they need to unlearn. At the end of the day, she says focusing on the work at hand and value that needs to be delivered helps.

Speaking of business operations, Sonu says the venture has been fortunate with onboarding very enterprising clients initially. But as it scaled further, Tenovia had to do a lot of convincing and influencing with brands that would typically not think of online and ecommerce as a serious channel. 

“While there was a lot of interest and ecommerce was the buzzword, many weren’t sure if they wanted to put in the time and effort to grow the channel. 

The pandemic was pivotal in changing that and brands shifted from perceiving ecommerce as a “good-to-have” channel to a “must-have, strategic channel.”

This, Sonu believes, leaves ample scope of growth for ecommerce analytics companies like Tenovia. 

(This story has been updated to correct that Landmark Books is the startup's first client instead of Tata International and with additional inputs regarding its services.)

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti