From Products to Services – The Mantra Labs journey
Back in 2009, when Flipkart was still selling books and e-commerce was trying to find its feet, Parag - an IITian who had worked in many hot-shot internet companies and Kaushal - his batch-mate with a steady job in an MNC, decided to make Bangalore’s life easier.
Online grocery was still an unexplored territory and no-one had really cracked the market. Buy-Easy – the first product by Mantra Labs, wanted to change all that. They set about creating the website, setting up the logistics and even managing the deliveries.
While the orders started piling up, logistics was a major challenge. In 2009, a robust supply chain and inventory management were issues which the fledgling start-up was not yet equipped to handle. Funding was non-existent for this space and Mantra started picking up small IT services projects to keep funding the products vertical.
Pivot! Pivot!! Pivot!!!
A common problem most of the entrepreneurs face, is not knowing when to let go of their baby
The eco-system was looking up and while the orders were still stacking up – the lack of robust inventory control and warehousing meant that operations were not efficient.
A severely depreciating Rupee might be bad news for many, but for a young startup dependent on some US projects and its green dollar – it was manna from heaven.
Eventually, there was realisation that Buy-Easy wasn’t going to be so ‘Easy’ after-all. The website was given a quiet burial and there was now a renewed focus on working on bleeding edge technologies to be ready for the next generation of web and mobile applications.
-The Accelerated Evolution-
While Node JS and Ruby on Rails were still abstract concepts for many, the 20 people who made up Mantra were deep diving in it to create a very attractive value proposition – A young IT Services company with a very strong product DNA.
While the team was working on projects, the sense of ownership was so strong that often, there would be conflicts on the best solution to take the product forward. The shift from products to services was smooth without any of the traditional IT Services problems like rigid processes, over-emphasis on billing and the dreaded timesheets.
Mikhail – a veteran of companies like MakeMyTrip and Jabong, joined Parag & Kaushal and together they have repositioned Mantra as a full-stack software services company which takes ideas to market for entrepreneurs and enterprises.
A very strong product incubation practice is present and one of the three floors in its office is dedicated to startups solving very interesting problems in healthcare, real estate and social shopping. Touchkin by Stayclose is a Mantra incubated product which was recently featured in major publications and on CNBC-Awaaz.
The client profile includes Hotshot start-ups like Ola, Bluestone, EzeTap, Leadsquared and many enterprise clients in Finance.
-The way forward-