How this ex-Amazon employee built a platform to digitise SMBs, reports 50K downloads in less than a year
It’s not unknown that the COVID-19 pandemic brought unique challenges for Indian small and medium businesses (SMBs).
“Forget about new customers; it was difficult retaining the existing ones during the pandemic,” says Gowtham, a shop owner in Chennai.
However, he found some respite when he came across the Ghoshak app. He immediately decided to avail Ghoshak’s loyalty programme, where he could start selling online. He was also able to offer reward points and other benefits to his customers.
“This led to an increase in the customer repeat rate and motivated them to purchase more products and new items from me repeatedly,” he tells SMBStory.
Gowtham is just one of many examples of SMB owners who were struggling to find solutions amidst the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Chennai-based Ghoshak helps SMBs conduct their day-to-day operations like creating an online store, building a website, generating e-bills, sales reports, customer data, inventory management, and more.
According to Dun & Bradstreet, digital adoption has accelerated by several years due to the COVID-19 crisis globally. About 82 percent of the surveyed SMBs have digitised their daily operations amidst the pandemic.
However, a significant portion is yet to adopt digital tools to run their business.
Founded in September 2020 by Rajesh Kumar Subramanium, the retail-SaaS company raised Rs 1.2 crore in seed funding last month from his friends and family members. The company has a team of 20 people.
Rajesh, however, declined to reveal the revenue of the company.
The story behind Ghoshak
While working at the enterprise software company SAP, Rajesh first realised he wanted to start a similar platform for small enterprises.
He, however, went to work at Amazon for about 10 years before deciding to start Ghoshak amidst the pandemic.
“I realised that there is an immense opportunity, especially in the Asian market, wherein small businesses have to compete with larger ecommerce companies and retail chains,” he tells SMBStory.
With the world moving at a fast pace, Rajesh was concerned about customers gradually moving online but SMB owners still using “pen and paper” for their day-to-day operations.
Digitising local shops
Rajesh says, initially, it was a challenge to convince the small shop owners to adopt the Ghoshak business app. The company’s sales team would personally visit SMB owners, explain to them the benefits of using the application, and this is how it got its first few customers on board.
The team also decided to penetrate certain sectors, including local kirana shops, grocery stores, parlours, mobile shops, etc. Gradually, they diversified their portfolio.
Today, Ghoshak has over 10,000 active customers, including footwear shops, meat shops, jewellery stores, chemists, restaurant owners, toy shops, and more.
Since its inception, it has seen about 50,000 downloads of its app on Google Play Store. While the app is not available on App Store now, Rajesh adds that they plan to launch it in 2022.
Rajesh also points out that the platform has a simple and user-friendly interface. Users are required to enter basic information about their business and can avail themselves of a list of services they wish to choose.
Ghoshak is primarily built on Amazon’s cloud-based Amazon Web Services platform, which according to Rajesh, has further enabled the company in providing a seamless experience to its customers.
Competing with the top guns
Several Indian companies are digitising small and medium businesses, including SAP, Zoho, Udaan, and Meesho, among others.
However, Rajesh is confident that Ghoshak can compete and survive in this market by virtue of its price.
The Chennai-based B2B company offers an annual subscription model and the price of availing of any service is Rs 1,000 per annum.
“A lot of the bigger enterprises charge as much as Rs 50,000, which these SMBs just cannot afford,” he says.
In fact, Ghoshak is a DIY solution for SMBs, and they don’t have to rely on any external agency to fulfil their needs. According to a survey conducted by Bluehost, about 58 percent of MSME respondents took a DIY approach for setting up their websites rather than outsourcing them.
A majority of SMBs have realised that they need to leverage technology to survive and thrive amidst such uncertain times.
For now, Ghoshak’s presence is restricted to Chennai, but it plans to gradually expand to other markets.
Rajesh’s sole aim is to get more and more SMBs on board while competing with the big players in the market. When asked about the future plans, Rajesh replies, “Technology is the key.”