SabkaMandi, an idealistic digital platform founded by Navin Prajapati, simply and efficiently connects retailers to their authorised distributors to streamline buying and selling.
Navin Prajapati can you give us a brief about Sabkamandi.com and its growth story?
SABKAMANDI is a unique hyper-local aggregator ordering platform that connects the retailers digitally with their authorized distributors. I would like to share my happiness with you all. SabkaMandi has officially completed its one year of operations today. What started as a dream of one person has now become a life-changing experience for many clients, companies, and growth partners. It was just an idea on a napkin that has now taken a strong form and has proven its might in spite of all the challenges thrown at us in the span of the last year. Currently, we have a team of 16 individuals, working hard to take SabkaMandi forward. Some are with us, some have parted ways, but whatever SabkaMandi is today, it would not have been possible without the contribution of this team.
We are changing the decades-old order taking process and moving the distributors into the digital age. Thus creating flexible and agile last mile operations for the FMCG companies. We are digitising the existing distribution network of FMCG companies, determined to support the distributors and retailers of this country and help them survive this digital transformation.
SabkaMandi started as an idea resulting from the frustration of the retailers, distributors and the sales team of companies who all felt helpless because of the inefficiency of the system. India is a unique country and when you talk about distribution network it has its own well established year old ways of doing thing, but the stakeholders have now realised that the system may work but the ways of doing things must be upgraded, and this is where SabkaMandi comes into play. You talk about any industry in the country, everyone is dependent on the distribution system, with the same decades old order taking process. While everyone wants to retain the trust of the existing system, they want an upgraded order taking mechanism. The idea came when I was working for Colgate on the sales role, talking to existing distributors, salesman, retailers while also finding ways to reach out the new retailers. While I realised that the distributors and retailers want a digital solution, but what people are not seeing is that the salesman are frustrated with the work that they are doing, they feel their skills are not utilised properly and instead of improving their skills, they have become order taking machines. Simultaneously, they are getting more interesting and flexible offers from startups like Swiggy, Zomato etc. The skill gap created in this class of work force, is a major industry changing problem which will come to haunt many players in distinct future. After talking to stakeholders I realised that their must be a digital solution which gives the freedom to retailers, distributors and more importantly the salesman to work on demand generation.
SabkaMandi started as an idea in early December 2018, I didn’t mind pitching this idea to all the industry experts and soon I found myself working with mentors and industry experts researching more about the process and industry scenario. After being confident about the tech process flow, I on-boarded my childhood friend Sourav Lahoti, who coming from a startup industry was quick in picking up the process flow and started building system around it. I did a lot of research till April 2018 and then I took a call to quit my job and work on it full time. Since then I had a discussion with multiple distributors, company, we did a market survey in Nashik, Mumbai and Goa. And by Aug 2019 we were able to launch our startup in Goa.
Tell us everything about your company, what does it do? What were the challenges of setting up and scale? How did you overcome them?
We connect the retailers directly with their authorized distributors, thus giving them freedom and flexibility to take control of their business, also simultaneously reach out to multiple distributors through a simple easy to use ordering platform. They know what they need, they will order what they need in under 2 mins. Instead of handling multiple people, spending multiple hours to place orders, they can do it within few minutes with 100% transparency. Distributors and retailers share a relationship of trust and co-existence. And hence instead of creating an alternative supply chain, we are digitising this network to enhance this relationship even further.
The biggest challenge that we faced was convincing the stakeholders that it is possible, they all came up the same opinion that it is too good to be true. After hearing us out they understood that it can be possible and we can do it. We had multiple discussions with distributors from Nashik, Mumbai and Goa. And after going through all the Q&As we were able to convince the stakeholders that it can be done and we have delivered that in the last few months. Building the team is one of the key challenges which all the founders have to go through initially and I found Sourav with complementary skills who is able to take care of the technology and help me out with the operations. As told by my mentors, the challenges will be there and there are a lot of ups and downs, but once you are convinced and your customers are convinced that the solution is required, everything else can be taken care of. And with this thought process we have managed to resolve all the problems which came in our way till date.
Give us a background of your core team along with the total strength of Sabkamandi.com.
We are a team of scrappy founders who can run tight operations, who believe in creating long term relationships with their customers and users based on trust and transparency. In a span of 3 months SabkaMandi has become a trusted brand for all retailers irrespective of their size, who believe in calling our team instead of their distributors to sort out their supply problems. We run operations with a vision that our brand should be the closest friend to the retailer, and they should approach us with all their problems irrespective of the fact that we are providing that service or not. We are in this business to help our business partners, and in-return they provide us with honest feedback and help us to explore new business verticals and revenue stream. We are determined to give the same experience to all our business partners, being their helping hand and help them become more efficient and profitable.
Navin Prajapati: Founder & CEO: IIM Calcutta & Chartered Accountant. Navin Prajapati has worked on multiple projects to identify opportunity in automation to create efficiency. Navin was associated with Colgate Palmolive, HUL, Credit Suisse and Accenture, delivering on critical projects for the organizations.
Important projects: New geography entrance planning, Automation of salesman monthly incentives, GST implementation for HUL, Automation of accounting and reporting process
Skill Set: Strategy & Vision, Sales, organisational capabilities, business acumen, business system integration, and project management.
Sourav Lahoti – Co-founder & CTO: Sourav is a full stack developer who mostly likes building web applications. He was associated with TCS, Intel, Babajobs, Growfit, Nutritown and Prescriber 360
Important projects: Tech revamping for Babajobs, tech building for Growfit, Nutritown and Prescriber 360
Skill Set: Business & system integration, Project Management, Full stack developer
Advisors & Mentors: We have a strong support team compromising of Mr. Robert Lobo, team from my incubation center, the Goa distributors association, my college professors to name a few.
What is the business model of Sabkamandi.com and how does it work?
SabkaMandi provides turnkey operations and demand generations service to the distributors (like a plug and play model) and we charge a fixed commission from distributors for that.
In the last one year, we have served 5000 orders, clocked a GMV of INR 1.5 Cr, serving close to 1800 retailers, 54 distributors, 160 listed companies. Currently, we also have all Goa exclusive distribution rights for 10 companies, all this with zero inventory model.
Recognitions & Awards: We don’t apply for any competitions as we believe in showing result in the actual market.
What is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors and what’s your revenue model?
The biggest differentiating factor is the effort to digitise the existing network. Instead of creating an e distributor model, we are digitising the existing distributors. Thus working with the existing players and give them solution that they actually need. SabkaMandi provides turnkey operations and demand generations service to the distributors (like a plug and play model) and we charge a fixed commission from distributors for that.
What are the services offered to the customers?
We provide customers with demand generation, order management, and delivery management services.
What is your Future plan?
And how do you see your Startup in the coming years? Navin aims to digitise the entire distribution ecosystem in the coming 4-5 years. They wish to make the system streamlined in such a way that there will be a free flow of all the data and information will be available just by the click of a button, allowing everyone to take quicker and data-driven decisions.
Finally, your advice for Budding Entrepreneurs?
The journey of an entrepreneurs is tough and its harder then it seems. Build your support system as quickly as you can, develop a network which you can tap into to get regular advice. But remember it is your company, your vision and you should have the courage to take strong decision, based on facts. And the most important thing is always have a plan B, because trust me more than often you will need it. This is not like any corporate job where you have the might of your company behind you, this is a real time battle field where you have to take real time decisions.