How this ex-CA from PwC helps SMBs, MSMEs scale their business
“Starting a business is not so difficult, the real problem comes when you scale the business to an extent; start getting maybe Rs 2 or 3 crore revenue a year, but have no clue of the way forward. There is a lack of financial literacy,” says Ashutosh Kharangate, Founder, Mangal Analytics and Research Consulting (MARC).
During an interaction with SMBStory, he says entrepreneurs often face challenges when it comes to expanding their business, and one wrong step leads them towards degrowth, which many businesses fear.
MARC is a Goa-based SME started in 2011 by Ashutosh, which helps MSMEs transform and succeed in their business by examining problems and determining solutions for the same.
Ashutosh started the company at the young age of 26 after he quit his cushy job at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
“I am a CA by profession, and while working with PwC, I became aware of the business world. It did not take me long to realise that behind big brands lay small businesses and MSMEs who support them either through raw materials, supply, logistics, or services,” he says.
However, he realised that the MSME sector lacks infrastructure and has no skills to scale up, and something needed to be done.
Ashutosh always wanted to start a business in his mother’s name, and after seeing the problems faced by small businesses, he decided to launch MARC, which now stands with 250 SME clients and 50 large enterprises. The company has around 28 employees.
Solving major problems
Citing an example of Astra Metal Systems — a company that manufactures precision sheet metal components — Ashutosh says in 2012-13, the company suffered a loss for the first time and the management appointed MARC to find reasons.
“We undertook a major analytical exercise. Typically in an SME, data availability is a challenge. Even if it’s available, it isn't in great shape. Hence our first task was to filter the data and arrive at data points that we were confident about. We ran a lot of data analyses using several tools at our disposal,” Ashutosh tells SMBStory.
Based on the research and analysis, MARC realised that products within the basket of products were making losses and were not gross margin positive.
“We made a presentation to MNC (Astra’s clients) to showcase this fact and to request for a price correction,” he adds.
In fact, the research also showed that during the year, purchases made from suppliers were not as per the approved price list. MARC figured out that due to the lack of robust internal controls, SOPs were breached and helped the company in mending its policies.
“We put together a management information system (MIS) system, which allowed the management to track performance every month. This allowed an immediate corrective action rather than waiting till the end of the year to realise mishaps,” Ashutosh explains.
MARC offers project feasibility studies and market research for small businesses, MSMEs, and large enterprises who plan to set up shops or launch new products in a new market. It also offers finance analytics, MIS, and guides them through mergers and acquisitions as a core competency.
“Our job starts where a CAs job would end. We provide a deep-dive market analysis — right from investment to supply chain, and competitor analysis to companies and not just the financial know-how,” he says.
In 2013, after reviving from the losses suffered, MARC identified an opportunity for Astra to move beyond the market by purchasing an entity sold by HCL in Chennai.
Being in the market for over a decade now, MARC has clients like Planet Hollywood, Chocolate Room, Tulip Diagnostics, Dr Batra's, New Millennium Bakers (Monginis master franchise in Goa), etc. The company claims to clock a revenue of over Rs 1 crore as of March 2020.
Riding tough waves
In the Indian business ecosystem, especially among micro and small businesses, entrepreneurs avoid hiring research and analytics firms to save costs.
However, Ashutosh explains that MSMEs should consider investing in research and analytics as it would give them insights and help operate in their sector.
Speaking on the major challenge MARC goes through, Ashutosh says, “You see people ignore consulting firms, and even when they think to reach out, they are too scared to trust and disclose numbers.”
For MARC, this is a continuous juggle — as it has to convince people to adopt measures that would help the business grow.
Right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, in January 2020, MARC also launched a free tool called Bizpally — a DIY fintech platform for entrepreneurs and the startup ecosystem — to help them with financial literacy.
“Bizpally helps entrepreneurs understand and calculate profit and loss statements, cash flow, and valuation. Besides, it also shares information on startup schemes that would be suitable for a particular business, understand state policies, and connect startups with the right set of angel investors,” he adds.
The way forward
Ashutosh is associated with 91 Springboard and BITS Pilani, where he imparts mentorship programmes to entrepreneurs.
Moving forward, Ashutosh aims to hit the global markets with local values the brand has created for itself.
“I want to make MARC a “glocal” brand that is recognised by entrepreneurs when they are on a stage of scaling up or growing their business,” says Ashutosh.
While MNCs are well networked, MSMEs and small businesses need real help when it comes to running a successful business, and he wants MARC to be the go-to place for such businesses.