Trio that started up with empty pockets and office under a tree now serves 2.5 lakh MSMEs with accounting and inventory software
The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India are key to India’s economic growth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target to make India a $5 trillion economy by increasing the contribution of MSMEs to 50 percent in GDP.
At a time where there has been a five percent economic slowdown in the first quarter of FY20 - the lowest in the last six years - a lot needs to be done to strengthen and boost the sector, which comprises 36 million MSMEs in India.
SMBs are vital and the Indian economy cannot survive without them. With emerging consolidations where technology may drive off authentic business models, we should do something to boost MSMEs by making them tech independent and not destroy the industry,” says Sudhir Singh, Managing Director, Marg ERP, in an interaction with SMBStory.
Sudhir Singh, Managing Director, Marg ERP.
MSMEs remain unaware of their power and impact on the Indian economy. They feel lost amid the big brands and global markets, and their sole failure lies in being technologically poor, Sudhir adds.
Understanding the grievances of the MSME industry, Thakur Anup Singh, Mahender Singh, and Sudhir Singh founded Marg ERP in 2000 in Delhi to empower MSMEs to achieve their full potential to transform the economic growth of the country.
The organisation, founded by three technocrats under a tree in Ashok Vihar, Delhi, has today flourished into a global technology solution provider.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
SMBStory: What is Marg ERP? How was it started?
Sudhir Singh: Marg ERP is one of the leading accounting and inventory software companies for success, growth, and ease of doing business for MSMEs.
We were doing our respective jobs and my brother Anup Singh was working in a pharma company as a tech programmer in 1992 where he developed software to help the owner manage his inventory and finances. Things changed and the three of us decided to start something of our own in 1997. But what could have been done with empty pockets? We used to sit under a tree in Ashok Vihar, discussing our vision and plans. It was our first office for the initial five months.
Since then, Marg ERP has grown and is developing trend-setting solutions and broadening the scope of technology via a smart approach, capability, and determination.
Being one of the most versatile software solution providers for every business need of MSMEs across economies, Marg ERP is democratising technology for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers to fuel empowerment, profitability, and growth of businesses.
By disrupting future technologies such as big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to enable maximum automation, better information for quick decision making and accelerate operational efficiency, the company is successfully simplifying inventory management, accounting, payments, GST compliance, sales, marketing, HR, and other basic yet complex needs of last-mile MSMEs in India and other geographies.
The market for MSMEs, especially in the micro segment, was cluttered, unorganised, and complex with multiple solutions for different problems and needs. Few technologies were offering only accounting solutions, while others were focused on inventory management. Some players were busy creating mobile applications to lure the customer. We disrupted the space for ease of doing business by offering all three on one platform.
SMBS: How did the company diversify into so many categories?
SS: At Marg ERP, we aimed at creating solutions that can efficiently address almost every obstacle in the progress path of MSMEs in the most practical manner. Our trade-specific software solution ensures guaranteed business growth, which is the end objective of every trade.
We started by developing software. However, in the SMB ecosystem where entrepreneurs need to hire experts to operate that software, it increases their expenditure. Thus, we created a product that an entrepreneur can handle and run his own business without any dependency. We implemented AI when there was no talk about it.
Mahender Singh, MD-Technical (left), Sudhir Singh, MD-Sales & Marketing (centre), and Thakur Anup Singh, CMD at Marg ERP
Our first product was an inventory software that was launched in 2005. Later, we diversified by launching an app that connects distributors and retailers real time, eliminating the tedious process of travelling and taking orders, thus saving time and money.
At present, Marg ERP boasts of capturing 60 percent market share of the pharma industry. It has over one million active users and caters to 250,000 MSMEs, including the FMCG sector spread across 707 districts and 25+ countries.
We believe our biggest milestones were at the time of VAT (Value Added Tax 2005) and GST (Goods and Services Tax 2017). When these reforms came into existence, we ensured smooth transition of our customers into GST and VAT. We provided seamless conversions. We believe that somehow we played our role for the national cause.
SMBS: What is the market size of your sector and how are you differentiating from the competition?
SS: With around 63.4 million units across the country, the SME and MSME sector is one of the largest employment generators. Our target is to capture 40 percent of these businesses and, with the strength of our channel partners, we are a 100 percent indirect company. We are aiming to add 100 more channel partners by next year to strengthen our network and reach out to underserved SMBs with disruptive, efficient, and affordable solutions.
Most software companies in India focus on accounting while we focus on all sides of the business. Thus, we feel we do not have any competition. Rather, we have turned the competition complementary by our project Milaap, which was launched last year.
We know and dominate the network in Delhi. However, to expand reach, we must know the region’s local connect. In other areas small software companies exist; these lack a strong product but have a strong local connect. So, to avoid competition, we join hands. These companies help us in establishing local connect and we provide them with our product.
Since last year, we have done closed around 45-50 Milaap projects.
SMBS: What is your advice to people who want to set up their business in the same sector?
SS: We understand that every industry comes along with its own set of challenges. But the first thing any budding entrepreneur needs is the courage to fight and a strong belief in his/her idea.
Once you start believing in something, the motivation and other factors come automatically. It is crucial for anyone in the business, new or veteran, to spot the right opportunity and grab it. Also, I will put in a word of caution: in today’s business dynamics, all ideas will not be successful so one should understand when to quit. Every entrepreneur should understand and believe that the spirit of entrepreneurship is not limited to one idea. If you are consistent and true to the cause, eventually success will come.
SMBS: What are your future prospects?
SS: As an organisation, Marg has always put industry acumen and innovation to create excellence in the field. The organisation is driven by the vision to make technology available and affordable to all. In line with this philosophy, we are continuously developing newer platforms and solutions that can participate in shaping the future of technology.
We aim to reach out to five million customers by 2025. Fueling ease, comfort and speed across retail, distribution, and manufacturing chains, Marg ERP is supporting New India to gear up for hyper-growth.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)