I have always shopped locally for things I need… a charger, my groceries, medicines, shoes… but that’s been slipping. Yes I am part of the 45% growth that India is seeing for online retail. The 70 million-odd Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) that sell products and services across the country have been hit by a wave of digital-first distribution platforms that offer delivery at your doorstep. Can technology enable the SMBs to do the same, i.e., leverage their proximity to the customer to augment their edge?
While many SMBs conduct their business on the phone and WhatsApp, solutions to optimise their sales and operations remain limited. One of the things we have learned, especially when working with small businesses, is that they want a complete solution and not a single product, and so you see the phrase ‘full-stack” applied to address this. We were excited about the full-stack solution that Wasabi is using to build its business and bring in digital productivity tools for small businesses. Their offering is a single layer platform that will serve the needs of such businesses, from customer acquisition and maintenance, to payments and business management. To top it all, it’s on a tool that the business is already used to — WhatsApp!
The hallmark of a good product is simplicity, delivering a solution that is actually far from easy. In Wasabi we saw a simple product that addressed complex workflows. Most SMB’s have many different sources of customers all of who are given very individualized attention and this holds true on their supplier base as well. Using a tool that has already gained traction and building on top of it to offer solutions to businesses made complete sense; take out the friction and build a world-class product. No new apps and no new skills to learn, just simplification and a single tool to drive business growth.
Reimagining how SMBs do business is an ambitious vision, but we believe that Pradeep and Nikhil have the requisite experience and complement each other well to realise this. Pradeep has many stints in consumer-facing businesses, digital commerce and payments; Ola, Flipkart and PhonePe where he assumed multiple roles, from launching new verticals to strategy. At PhonePe, SMBs was the beat, and Pradeep acquired first-hand experience of the challenges and the strategies for conversion. Nikhil and Pradeep met at Flipkart, where Nikhil led various product build-outs. Nikhil also has set up several ventures before in content media and social shopping. The latter he sold to Glow Road before embarking on Wasabi.
At Ankur we are always stoked about solutions for large, underserved markets that overlap with impacting the next billion, and Wasabi fits nicely into that thesis. SMBs are the backbone of the Indian economy, generating 30% of India’s GDP and employing approximately 120 million people. It is about time that technology comes in to upgrade and expand the influence and reach of this sector.
I am thrilled to announce that Ankur, along with 021 and many individuals who have been mentors to Pradeep and Nikhil in the past, have come together to support Wasabi in their pre Series A round. I look forward to an incredible journey with an incredible team.