Not every Indian college startup is an e-commerce

Get into a top engineering college of repute, study hard, party harder, be fans of Dexter’s Laboratory and get a campus placement offer even before you graduate. Everything seems going perfectly for this duo until one day they decide they want to do something different. While still in college Shiv and Nitin juggled their course schedule and joined our 1-month Entrepreneurship program in Mumbai. I still remember a conversation with them, where they did not know initially what they wanted to do, but they knew they wanted to do something cool and meaningful. And when they told us that they want to improve the logistics flow in the country, our first reaction was — Do you guys anything about it? They said, we know that there is a problem and we want to solve it and that’s it.

At the end of this 1-month program, they had an investors pitch-deck, a rough prototype and a business model sketch to solve the problem of logistics inefficiency in India. They did not have any experience or even related experience in this field. They had many assumptions that set them up for failure. They were not taken seriously when they would go out on the field and try to talk to small-to-medium sized business owners about their logistics and tech capabilities. And finally, they did not even know how much to price their own product? Everything that could be pitted against you and your chances of success is listed here. But that didn’t stop Shivkumar and Nitin, co-founders for a “technology for logistics” startup Revolo Info Tech.

Their first ever pitch at Ycenter’s final pitch day in 2016.

2 months after graduation, Shiv and Nitin, registered their company in August 2017. Now they are out of college and it is no more a hobby venture or just another dorm room venture with a hope to make it big and drop out of college. They have rejected their college campus placement offer and their Plan A and Plan B and also Plan C is now their startup company. The first thing they did when going full-time was one of the most important things any Entrepreneur could do for their startup. Shut up and Listen to your customer! They knew they are far from creating a quality product and hence threw out the code out of the window that they wrote while still in college and went back to drawing board to start product development from scratch. Only this time, fewer assumptions and real-world knowledge of what the actual needs and wants are.

Working with team on product development

Go-to-Market Strategy

Many of their potential customers are not using any sophisticated technology to handle their logistics because they are too scared to Change, even if it means for better. Shiv and Nitin knew this and hence they built a modular product, wherein, they can only offer certain parts of their product to have their customers start feeling better before they purchase the full stack version from them. For example — One of their product — TruckToday is a general software easily catering to basic needs of accounting, tracking your vehicle, billing and operations. They can offer you only the accounting piece to get started so the shift from not using technology at all, to using this software product is less dramatic and provides a smooth transition for their customers.

Field visit: Going where your customers are. Flipkart warehouse in Bhiwandi

The second strategy is suited for more established businesses that have identified the need for a technology product and service but have no resources to do so or afford the expense of building their own IT team, unlike bigger companies. For them, Revolo Info Tech provides a customized product built from the ground up specifically to meet the company’s business needs. This takes to Software as a Service model and helps them get bigger customers. Shiv mentions they almost act as “Consulting CTO and Tech partners” for these companies and not just as vendors or software providers.

L-R: Nitin Shenoy, Shivkumar Krishnamurthy: Co-founders of Revolo Info Tech

Shivkumar Krishnamurthy and Nitin Shenoy are friends turned co-founders of Revolo Info Tech. The name of the company comes from the phrase — revolutionizing logistics with information technology. They have a team of 6 people, 5 coders and 1 business development intern and all of them are paid (Shiv insisted on this when sharing his story). Their story hasn’t been without major f#*kups. They spent months building a customized software completely on trust without any legally binding agreement with one of the big customers, only to find out that the customer no longer wants to buy it from them. And by the way, they didn’t turn back because of the software but because of the founding team being too young for them to believe that they can actually build something so solid. What a classic blunder! Moving past this failure (but, is it really a failure, if it was actually meant to teach you a valuable business lesson and help you grow?!), they now have 4 major clients across Pune and Mumbai and their operational management for these companies is spread across 9 Indian states and handling transactions worth lakhs of rupees for their clients. All of these in less than a year. They started dreaming in college and now they are building upon their dreams, in a modular way, just like their software! Yet another story that not all college students in India are building e-commerce companies.

Bonus Content:

These guys are moving so fast. Between the time of sharing their story with our team and publishing date for this article, this happened.

At a recent national-level pitch event — Startup Conclave hosted by Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, out of the 367 startups that applied, 15 startups were selected to pitch. They had 5 minutes to pitch. And Shiv and Nitin secured a 3rd place at this national level event. Congratulations to the entire team!