A persistent problem is going unaddressed with no one in the ecosystem trying to solve it. That’s the cue for many an entrepreneur to make their entry with startups which would provide the panacea. In early 2015, three young entrepreneurs – Sumit Ghorawat, Deepak Dhanotiya and Tanutejas Saraswat took the unaddressed woes of kirana stores (mom-and-pop stores) as their cue to enter the world of startups with ShopKirana.
Sumit was appalled by the long turnaround time that Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and other brands took while meeting the demands of kirana stores. A graduate from Carnegie Mellon University, Sumit was working with Procter & Gamble when he made the observation that it took a kirana store owner almost 10-15 days to replenish the exhausted stock of branded products. So, for instance, if any brand of soap or shampoo went out of stock at a kirana store, the shopkeeper had to wait for almost a fortnight before fresh stock was made available.
Typically, a sales executive from a FMCG brand would visit every kirana store and take the supplies order on a piece of paper. He would then go back to the brand’s office and enter the orders into the system, against the name of each kirana store. The systems department would update the inventory team of distributors and then they, in turn, would deliver the supplies on behalf of the brand to the stores. The entire process, from placing an order to delivery of the supplies, would take approximately 10 days. To avoid the delay, a kirana storekeeper would, therefore pre-order for goods in advance before the stock got over.
At P&G, Sumit was working with Deepak, whose father owned a kirana store. Deepak knew the agony of managing inventory. In the era of technology and smartphone penetration, it was a surprise that unorganised retail market, which made up for 92% of the $300 Bn market economy, was still following the traditional path. They regularly deliberated on methods of solving this problem by reducing the turnaround time to just 24 hours. Their discussions sowed the seed of a concept, when the duo met Tanutejas, a business graduate from Proton Business School. The concept metamorphised into a startup called ShopKirana.
ShopKirana, a B2B M-distribution platform for merchants and small retailers came to being in early 2015 in Indore.
“In India, retail still follows the traditional route of a supply chain. Around 92% of the retail industry is unorganised that presented a huge opportunity for us. Having watched the retail sector so closely, we could understand the pain points of the sector,” says Sumit.