These traditional businesses are tapping into technology to make a place in the online world and other top stories of the week

This week, SMBStory also caught up with Shachindra Nath, Executive Chairman and Managing Director of U GRO Capital, who threw light on the MSME lending platform’s recent developments.

Across the world, there is not a single sector that did not find a solution in digital tools and technology to survive the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic, infact, reinstated and compelled one and all to move towards a more technology-driven future. 

This week, SMBStory spoke to entrepreneurs Prashant Jain and Deepak Jain. Belonging to traditional family businesses, they have witnessed India’s transition to an internet economy.

Oswaal Books

The education sector in India underwent a massive shift with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As offline activities came to a halt, schools and other institutions had to quickly shift to the online mode. The sector thrived despite the crisis due to the presence of digital tools. 

Keeping this in mind, SMBStory spoke to entrepreneur, Prashant Jain, who handles the marketing and finance verticals of Agra-based Oswaal Books, one India’s most widely known academic publishers.

Oswaal Books, started in 1984, is a dominant player in the offline space. The business has an annual circulation of 35 lakh books, which includes guidebooks for CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and ICSE (Indian School Certificate Examinations) as well as for the Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka boards. It also offers material for competitive exams such as NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), RRB (Railway Recruitment Boards), and more. 

Sensing that “learning will happen online”, Oswaal Books launched its test-preparation platform for high-school classes called Oswaal 360 in September 2021 on a trial basis and then officially last month. It has been able to garner more than one lakh users (nearly) since the launch, Prashant claims.

He tells SMBStory how the company sailed through the pandemic, the trend around edtech, and the evolution of the company.

Read the full story here.

Lass Naturals 

Over the years, the cosmetics and personal care products market has seen both global and local growth, with increasing shelf space across retail stores, boutiques. The market is both dynamic, with trends changing every four-five years, as well as competitive due to the sheer number of companies vying for consumers’ attention. 

Deepak Jain, Founder and CEO of Lass Natural, a Made-in-India global brand providing personal care products range, says that trends in the beauty segment are fast-paced and that a brand that wants to stay relevant in the business must keep up with these changes.  

“From Ayurveda to herbal, natural, organic and whatnot; the beauty and personal care industry has grown by leaps and bounds and customers are spoilt for choice. Customers now need a safe product and we as a brand are trying to keep up with their expectations,” Deepak says in an interaction with SMBStory

Talking about building Lass Naturals from a completely offline to now an online brand, Deepak sheds light on industry dynamics and reveals how the brand is gearing up to stand out amid the crowded online marketplace. 

Read the full story here.

Other top stories of the week-

U GRO Capital

The MSME sector faces numerous challenges, the biggest of which is access to formal credit. 

The last few years have seen fintech platforms and non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) ease capital flow, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Shachindra Nath, Executive Chairman and Managing Director of MSME lending platform U GRO Capital.

U GRO Capital, formerly Chokhani Securities, is a BSE-listed NBFC established in 1993. The birth of U GRO Capital happened after Shachindra acquired Chokhani Securities, and revamped its management team in December 2017.

In the last few months, U GRO has reported several developments, including a partnership with traditional banks such as IDBI Bank, SBI and Bank of Baroda. A market leader, the business is set to usher in a new era of co-lending. 

In an interaction with SMBStory, Shachindra shares how the small business lending ecosystem has evolved over the years, role of banks and other fintechs and his vision for the ecosystem in the next few months. 

Read the full story here.

Edited by Anju Narayanan