India has 450,000 goldsmiths, 100,000 gold jewellers, 6,000 diamond processors, and 8,000 diamond jewellers. Most of these businesses are SMEs (small and medium enterprises).
This is the scope of the gems and jewellery industry, according to a report by India Law Offices. And this industry, like many others, is still stuck in the ‘old ways’ of doing business i.e. following manual and handwritten processes for everything, from checking sales to taking inventory and paying employee salaries. The business owners are wary of digitising their business for two reasons – it’s extremely cash-dependent and cash-sensitive.
Being the owner of jewellery stores in Chennai, Arvind Uttam Chand’s family too faced these problems. Post his masters in Technopreneurship and Innovation from Singapore’s Nanyang University in conjunction with Stanford University, he realised he was ideally placed to do something about this situation.
“The idea was very simple – to enable the jewellery business with technology.”
And that’s how a simple holiday visit with family in 2012, turned into an enterprise solutions platform for the gems and jewellery industry – offering inventory and sales management including an RFID scanner to reduce stock-taking time, simplifying business processes and more – Sales Neuron.
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After starting a business in college and exiting from it, Arvind understood the value of conducting due diligence before starting a new venture. He spent one and a half years (2012-2013) to properly understand the market and existing operating software, namely, Acme Infinity, Jilaba, Ornate Software. “The main problems in these systems was that the tech was not advanced, available only on desktop and no other platforms. They were not mobile-ready, never mind having a web app presence with cloud,” he chuckles.
The company was incorporated in March 2014 and they took about four-five months to build the product. The first version was a simple inventory management software that ran on barcodes, the way it does in supermarkets. The most important feature of the app was that it was a web app that could be run seamlessly on a tablet or a smartphone.
Arvind first installed the system at his father’s stores and validated the product for two months and moved on to replicate it for 10 more businesses in Chennai by the end of 2014. But the challenge of convincing the non-tech-savvy business owners was a task in itself. The first few meetings were all about educating them about the use case and efficiency of the platform, following by assuring them that data privacy and security will be maintained on the client’s end.